Canonical Ltd. is betting that its latest Ubuntu release, to be available April 24, will attract more partner support and build credibility in business accounts.
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Ubuntu has been something of a developer and enthusiast cult favorite among Linux distributions, but the company's long-term support (LTS) releases are gaining traction among businesses. This latest is the Ubuntu 8.04 release, sometimes known by its code name Hardy Heron. LTSes roll out every 18 months and carry five years of support.
This is the first Ubuntu release to really focus on garnering third-party support from hardware and software vendors, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth told SearchITChannel.com.
"The essential ingredient for us to migrate from being an exciting community phenomenon to being a commercial phenomenon is certification," Shuttleworth said
Sun Microsystems, Palo Alto, Calif., is certifying this release to run on its Intel X86 boxes, for example.
That blessing from third parties may help win over more VAR and systems integrator partners. That, in turn, could ease Ubuntu's entry into accounts that might otherwise have opted for the more mainstream-seeming Red Hat Linux releases.
Carl Richell, president of System76, a maker of laptops, desktops and servers is an Ubuntu booster. The Denver company preloads Ubuntu on the laptops, desktop PCs and servers it sells -- mostly into small and medium-sized companies, many of which are already quite comfortable with the Ubuntu distribution.
Corra Technology Inc., a Montclair, N.J., integrator specializing in open source solutions, is also sold on Ubuntu. "Our development teams have used Ubuntu to deploy operating systems and apps for a long time, but when they rolled out their Landscape systems management, we thought it was time to expand the relationship," said CEO Ron Bongo.
Landscape has been available since March.
Ubuntu wants partners
Shuttleworth said integrator and VAR partners can make real money selling and implementing what many see as free software.
"What's in it for them? The business model for the channel is aligned with our own model, which is purely focused on services and solutions on the platform. We underwrite the cost of the platform itself," Shuttleworth said. "It's all published free of charge. Our business model is services, and the channel provides solutions and services directly, which we encourage."
He said 500 organizations have registered as Ubuntu service providers, and "ideally we want to work with them in partnership. We provide some services -- escalation support that gets you to the developers -- and we offer the channel the opportunity to resell that. They can also offer their own direct support."
"If you know IBM's DB2 runs on Ubuntu, there's the opportunity to architect, resell and deploy DB2 on Ubuntu," Shuttleworth said. "In a very real sense, integrators are in a position to offer deeper, more important services with open source than proprietary software. They can get more deeply involved with the platform itself. They are not locked out."