Ubuntu: 3 Requirements for Canonical’s Partner Program
As Ubuntu 10.04 nears its official launch later this week, the Ubuntu hype could become overwhelming. There’s a lot to like in Canonical’s latest Linux distribution. But Canonical’s partner program remains a work in progress. Here are three steps Canonical will need to make in order for Ubuntu to gain critical mass with channel partners.
First, a little background: Canonical has been making progress with its partner program. The software company is working closely with several IT training centers across the globe, potentially seeding the market for Ubuntu-trained resellers and IT managers. At the same time, Canonical has scored a few strategic partnerships — including a virtual desktop relationship involving both IBM and Virtual Bridges, and a recent cloud partnership with Dell.
Also in April 2010, Canonical announced a certification for junior-level system administrators “to help them with Ubuntu deployments in their office environments.” That sounds like a smart move.
According to a press release:
The e-learning course version will be available shortly after the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Long Term Support) release on 29 April 2010 with students able to study in the classroom from June 2010 and the new exam available from October 2010.
Potential Next Moves?
Still, there’s more room for improvement. At the very least Canonical will ultimately need:
- A Partner Locator: Need technical help with Ubuntu? Want to find the nearest, certified Ubuntu solution provider? Canonical will need to create and publish a searchable database of partners. The effort will put established partners in the spotlight, while also exposing towns, cities and regions where more partners are needed.
- A Deal Registration System: If you’re a partner working on an Ubuntu-related customer engagement (desktop, server, mobile, cloud, Landscape management, etc.), wouldn’t it be nice if you could register for deal protection, receive favorable financial terms, and further raise your company’s visibility in the partner ecosystem?
- An Executive Vote of Confidence for the Channel: Canonical’s top three executives — Chairman Mark Shuttleworth, CEO Jane Silber and COO Matt Asay — are making progress on the partner and customer front. During a conversation last week, Asay told The VAR Guy that he sees real opportunity for Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) to catch on as a revenue-producing platform for Canonical. It sounds promising. But if you really, really quiz Shuttleworth, Silber and Asay about Canonical’s partner strategy, some of the answers are a bit generic and some of the strategy once again remains a work in progress.
Rivals like Red Hat now derive more than 60 percent of annual revenues from channel partners, according to The VAR Guy’s 2010 Open Source 50 report (complete results coming in May 2010). For Ubuntu to truly thrive, Canonical’s ecosystem of partners must push beyond volunteers and open system champions. Ubuntu needs a revenue generating partner base in order for Ubuntu to really generate mind share and market share within businesses.
All that said, The VAR Guy thinks the glass remains half full for Ubuntu. ISVs such as Groundwork Open Source and Alfresco remain upbeat on Ubuntu. And it’s always nice to have growing relationships with Dell (in the cloud) and IBM (on virtualized servers). The arrival of Ubuntu 10.04 and its Long Term Support (LTS) status should help Canonical to further solidify its partner and customer relationships.
But more work is needed on the channel front.