The Key to Ubuntu Server Edition's Success? The Key to Ubuntu Server Edition's Success?

Amazon Web Services and Elastic Compute CloudAs you may have heard, Ubuntu is leaping from desktop computers all the way to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Although Ubuntu Server Edition 8.10 on Amazon EC2 remains in beta, the Amazon relationship could energize Canonical's server strategy, WorksWithU believes. Here's why.

First, the undeniable truth: Canonical's Ubuntu Server Edition strategy is going to take years -- rather than months -- to gain momentum. Other than Sun Microsystems and niche players like System76 and ZaReason, traditional server makers have been slow to endorse or ship Ubuntu on their server systems. At the same time, server application developers have been slow to port their applications to Ubuntu.

It's hard to criticize Canonical for the lack of big-name server wins. I believe the situation will gradually change as a few open source application providers (Alfresco and Openbravo, for instance) polish their applications on Ubuntu.

Enter Amazon

Amazon's EC2 changes the rules of the server game, however, by shifting the competitive ground from customer data centers into Amazon's cloud. There, software developers and forward-thinking application providers can begin testing -- and deploying -- various cloud services.

If everything goes as planned, it sounds like Ubuntu Server Edition for Amazon EC2 will leap from beta to production in January or February 2009. At that point, Canonical will be on equal footing with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, OpenSolaris, Windows Server 2003, Oracle Enterprise Linux and a range of databases that already live in Amazon's cloud. (You can find a list of current Amazon EC2 software offerings here.)

Assuming Ubuntu Server Edition works as advertised in the cloud, it could trigger a new generation of Ubuntu-based applications -- and also create pull for Ubuntu Server Edition in corporate data centers.

The Long Haul

Still, Ubuntu Server Edition's march toward success is going to be a long one. There's no doubting the continued momentum of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and growing momentum of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise. Keeping pace won't be easy for Canonical.

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