Canonical: 3 Signs of Progress for Ubuntu Linux Partners

The VAR Guy

July 29, 2011

2 Min Read
Canonical: 3 Signs of Progress for Ubuntu Linux Partners

The VAR Guy has to concede: In mid-2010, he was losing faith in Canonical — promoter of Ubuntu Linux. Amid multiple management changes, Canonical seemed focused on too many different priorities. And emerging threats like Google Android seemed to suffocate Canonical’s mobile Internet device (MID) strategy and even Ubuntu’s netbook momentum. Fast forward to the present, and several business developments suggest that Canonical is finally getting the Ubuntu house in order.

Among the three Canonical moves worth watching this week…

1. Partnering Up: First up, Canonical finally launched a real partner program. Sure, Canonical has always worked with VARs and resellers. But there didn’t seem to be any central, urgent partner focus at Canonical. Without certified VARs and resellers, Ubuntu remained a mystery option to many businesses. Perhaps that’s changing now that Canonical has launched the Ubuntu Advantage Partner Program.

2. Remote Cloud Management: Next up, Canonical has updated its cloud strategy. The latest effort is called Ubuntu Advantage Cloud Guest, which gives partners and customers a set of support services and management tools for running Ubuntu in public clouds. Initial support options cover Ubuntu running in Amazon Web Services, GoGrid and Rackspace. A single Cloud Guest subscription covers up to 100 public cloud instances, Canonical stated. The Cloud Guest effort depends heavily on Landscape — Canonical’s remote systems management tool.

Sources say Ubuntu is the most popular server operating system within the RackSpace Cloud. Perhaps through Ubuntu Advantage Cloud Guest, Canonical can more effectively monetize all of those Ubuntu cloud deployments.

3. Cloud Storage: Finally, Canonical says the Ubuntu One cloud service has reached 1 million users. Somewhat like DropBox and perhaps even the forthcoming Apple iCloud service, Ubuntu One is a storage service that allows Ubuntu users to manage a range of multimedia files.

Remaining Challenges

Despite those business milestones and strategic moves, Canonical still faces multiple challenges.

In the channel, Canonical must somehow differentiate Ubuntu from closed-source rivals (Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X) and entrenched business Linux systems (Red Hat, SUSE). In the mobile market, Canonical has to some how differentiate from Apple iOS, Google Android, RIM, HP WebOS and yes… even Windows Phone 7. In the cloud, Canonical must strive to remain relevant even as Red Hat rolls out OpenShift (Platform as a Service, or PaaS) and CloudForms (Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS).

But most of all: Canonical has to prove that emerging services and tools — such as Ubuntu One and Landscape — can actually generate profits for the company.

For instance: Of the 1 million Ubuntu One subscribers, how many of those users actually pay for the cloud storage service? Only Canonical knows for sure…

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