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February 17, 2010
Canonical’s channel partner program for Ubuntu, the fast-growing Linux distribution, took two promising steps forward this week. One step involves a vote of confidence from a key consulting company. The other step involves a key move in the government market. Here are the details.
On the consulting front, The Linux Box of Ann Arbor, Mich., has vowed to “sell, install and support customized Ubuntu-based solutions to organizations running Linux systems. It will also provide businesses with large-scale migration deployment support and training services for cloud computing infrastructures and enterprise desktop alternatives.”
A big win for Canonical? Not really. But The Linux Box represents a small, significant step forward for Canonical’s channel partner program. Canonical didn’t land on last year’s Open Source 50 report — which tracks the most promising open source partner programs — because Canonical’s partner efforts were still in their infancy.
In recent months, Canonical has been bolstering its Ubuntu training and certification efforts. At the same time, Canonical has been shaking up its executive ranks — transitioning the CEO title to Jane Silber and hiring new COO Matt Asay.
While Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth focuses on the Ubuntu community, Silber and Asay must find ways to further monetize and manage Canonical’s business. Many of those efforts will involve channel partners.
For instance, The Linux Box hopes to offer Ubuntu and related professional services to organizations that are “looking to gain competitive advantage, reduce IT costs and increase the control they have over their open source technologies.”
Of course, The VAR Guy will need to check in with The Linux Box to see if they manage to profit from Ubuntu deployments.
Meanwhile, Autonomic Resources, an IT and service integration firm serving the U.S. federal government, says the General Services Administration (GSA) has approved Autonomic to offer Canonical’s Ubuntu and Landscape to government customers.
According to a press release:
The agreement makes Autonomic the Federal reseller/integrator of Canonical Ubuntu and Landscape products…The new Landscape release allows IT departments & managers to remotely administer physical or virtual servers within the government and corporate networks and on their private cloud platforms.
Autonomic has several close open source relationships, including partnerships with EnterpriseDB, Novell, Jaspersoft, Likewise Software, Pentaho, Red Hat, SugarCRM and Untangle. Adding Canonical to the list positions Autonomic to potentially promote Ubuntu and Landscape to federal customers.
Canonical’s channel partner moves come at a critical time. Both Red Hat and Novell, respectively, have been building stronger relationships with major distributors such as Synnex and Tech Data.
Red Hat and Synnex launched the Open Source Channel Alliance in 2009, and Tech Data followed with the Open Tech launch in late 2009. More recently, Lenovo, Tech Data and Red Hat introduced discounted servers to Tech Data resellers.
No doubt, most solutions providers have yet to jump on the Ubuntu bandwagon. But The VAR Guy will be watching Canonical’s strategy closely.
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