Canonical, Ubuntu: We’re More Than Mark Shuttleworth
Amid heightened competition in the Linux market, Canonical — the promoter of Ubuntu Linux — is growing up and pushing beyond the massive shadow of founder Mark Shuttleworth (pictured). Here’s the evidence and some perspective from The VAR Guy.
First, a little background: The Linux market seems to have reached an inflection point. Novell and Mandriva both are seeking potential suitors and both companies could be acquired. Novell is set to announce quarterly results on May 27, Red Hat continues to show healthy growth while gearing up for the Red Hat Summit (June 22-25, Boston), and Google seems to be gaining critical mass with Android while Chrome OS is waiting in the wings.
Meanwhile, Canonical is perhaps best known for two things: Ubuntu and founder/evangelist Mark Shuttleworth. But during 2010, Canonical has been expanding its management staff. Shuttleworth has shifted to the chairman position — opening the door for a new CEO (Jane Silber) and new Chief Operating Officer (Matt Asay).
Take A Closer Look
Now, Canonical is further expanding its corporate identity to include additional faces and software initiatives. A redesigned Canonical Web site puts the spotlight on multiple Canonical executives. Plus, Canonical’s home page is quick to note that Canonical now has more than 350 employees in more than 30 countries.
Translation: Canonical ranks among the largest companies on The VAR Guy’s Open Source 50 report (2010 edition), which tracks the world’s most promising open source partner programs. (The 2010 report launches really soon.)
But is Canonical succeeding financially? CEO Silber provided some clues in March 2010 — though Canonical doesn’t really disclose deep financial information to reporters and anonymous bloggers. And COO Asay sees significant revenue opportunities tied to Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC).
No doubt, Canonical is working hard to push beyond its core Ubuntu focus. The Ubuntu One storage and file synchronization service, Ubuntu One Music Store and Landscape 1.5 remote management service each provide potential revenue opportunities ahead.
Canonical also is preparing new training programs and channel efforts wrapped around the Ubuntu 10.04 launch — thought it’s safe to say Canonical’s partner program remains a work in progress amid entrenched competition from Novell and Red Hat VARs.
Still, Canonical is growing beyond Shuttleworth’s ever-present shadow. And that’s a good thing. Bill Gates needed dynamic executives around him to build Microsoft. Larry Ellison has had plenty of help guiding Oracle (first from Ray Lane, and more recently from two co-presidents).
Shuttleworth will need similar help to keep Canonical moving in the right direction, especially as new rivals potentially step in to acquire Novell and/or Mandriva.