Ubuntu Server Edition At Wikipedia: Where's the Revenue?
First, the good news for Canonical and its loyal followers: Yes, Wikimedia Foundation (the company behind Wikipedia) is embracing Ubuntu on its servers in a big way. This is the latest in a growing list of large and small organizations that are betting their back offices on Ubuntu. Now, the challenge: It sounds like there really isn’t much — if any — money flowing from Wikipedia to Canonical.
If you read this blog regularly, you know I believe Ubuntu has a bright future on servers. As someone who covered the birth and rise of Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1 for InformationWeek back in the 1990s, I believe Ubuntu Server Edition is catching on faster — yes, faster — than NT did during its early years.
But there are some key differences here. First, the market for server operating systems is probably a few thousand times larger today than it was in 1994. Second, I’m worried that very few customers are actually paying Canonical to support Ubuntu Server Edition.
According to The Register, Wikipedia has roughly 350 servers today — most of which run Ubuntu. Canonical Marketing Manager Gerry Carr, a stand-up guy who doesn’t hide from facts, conceded in The Register article that:
“Wikimedia has not engaged Canonical for support contracts but there is some discussion about Wikimedia using Canonical’s Landscape system management tool, announced in March, as well as doing some sort of custom support contract.”
So let’s keep things in perspective. Our own Works With U 1000 list tracks hundreds of companies and organizations that have eagerly embraced Ubuntu Server Edition. But monetizing Ubuntu? That seems to be an entirely separate challenge. We’re still very early in the Ubuntu server game.