Ubuntu Linux gets serious about business partners

Linux users loves Ubuntu. Technology businesses, though... not so much. Canonical is working on improving its corporate partnership relationships.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Most people, who like Linux, love Ubuntu. Oh they may object to Ubuntu's new Unity desktop, but at day's end, they still use Ubuntu. Technology businesses though have a more jaundiced view of Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company. Canonical, though, is now taking steps now to make its potential hardware and software partners happier.

First, Canonical is trying to become better friends with its reseller partners. Their new channel partner program, Ubuntu Advantage (UA) is "designed to help resellers bring a new set of support services for Ubuntu server, desktop and cloud installations direct to businesses. The program is launching with global partners, including CSS in the US, Asia and Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA)."

The name of the game, according to Canonical, is to "provide enterprise customers with access to the tools and support they need to get maximum return from their Ubuntu infrastructure including round the clock support, Ubuntu Landscape management and monitoring tool, knowledge base and legal cover. Ubuntu Advantage helps to minimize any impact on mission-critical services and reduce the cost of system downtime. The Ubuntu Advantage partner program extends the availability of these services beyond Canonical and, for customers, adds local resources and responsiveness to the expertise that Canonical continues to provide."

What resellers will get out of this is the usual additional revenue streams from new services. In addition, Canonical promises that they'll get "marketing, technical, commercial and pre-sales support and an assigned account manager as part of the UA program."

We've been here before. Canonical has offered enterprise software stacks in partnership with IBM; the Ubuntu distributor also briefly tried a retail, open-source software package; and has long been targeting Red Hat and the other server operating system giants for the Linux server market. While Canonical has had some success with that last mission-albeit Red Hat continues to be server Linux's 800-pound gorilla--over the years its partners have been happy with it.

As The VAR Guy Website observed Canonical has lots of good partner ideas but they haven't pulled them off because "Canonical experienced multiple management changes and product launches that pushed - and pulled - the company into new directions."

After years of covering the reseller and enterprise market, I can safely tell you that neither resellers nor business customers like constant change from a company. They want, they need, a constant, steady channel program and product line. As a Linux lover, you probably find constant change and small improvements exciting. Businesses much prefer stability.

In addition, Canonical is simplifying its hardware certification program. In the past manufacturers had a choice of two levels of endorsement for systems: "Ubuntu Certified" and "Ubuntu Ready." Canonical recognized that this was confusing so starting with October's Ubuntu 11.10 release there will only be one Canonical-endorsed hardware certification program: Ubuntu Certified.

Just like resellers and corporate customers, original equipment manufacturers (OEM)s and original design manufacturer (ODM)s much prefer simple and stable over constant small changes and tweaks.

If Canonical is successful in doing all this, and in stabilizing it own management structure, then Canonical, and Ubuntu, will have a much better chance of moving from Linux lovers' desktops to corporate offices and server rooms. That's easier said than done though. We'll see how they do this time around.

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