Canonical intends to raise $32 million to develop Ubuntu Edge, a combination PC/smartphone. It will run Ubuntu and Google Android. It sounds wildly promising. The big question: Who exactly is going to manage the device for BYOD consumers, corporate IT and business users? The VAR Guy's advice: Canonical should dial AirWatch -- a Tpp 100 Cloud Services Provider -- right now. Here's why. 

Steven J. Vaughan Nichols, whom The VAR Guy has known since around 1998, explains the Ubuntu Edge concept with this very compelling statement: "Give people a single device. Make it so people don't need to carry a laptop, even a Chromebook, and a smartphone. Make it so that you can carry all your needed computing power in a shirt pocket. They [Canonical] foresee a post-PC future where you simply plug your super-smartphone into your office, hotel, conference center, or home keyboard and monitor and you'll be ready to go."

Well said, SJVN. If it works as advertised, Ubuntu Edge could disrupt the mobile and desktop markets -- in the home and perhaps in business. But Canonical will need a range of partners to make Ubuntu touch and mobile devices a success --  including:

  • Smartphone makers;
  • Carriers and telecom companies;
  • ISVs (independent software vendors); and
  • MSPs and VARs that offer mobile device management (MDM) and mobile applications management (MAM).

Canonical's Carrier Advisory Group (CAG) may bring smartphone makers and carriers to the partner table. But Canonical is somewhat weaker on the ISV, MSP and VAR front. Alas, the company has never really had a strong channel partner program. 

Time to Dial AirWatch

That's where AirWatch potentially enters the picture. That company specializes in mobile device management (MDM) and mobile applications management (MAM). AirWatch's smartphone and tablet management business is growing fast, and the company now ranks among the world's Top 100 Cloud Services Providers. Talkin' Cloud, The VAR Guy's sister site, will unveil  the complete Top 100 CSP list on July 30. 

AirWatch also has a strong channel partner program. In fact, the company is set to host a major ISV and channel partner gathering in September, according to MSPmentor Associate Blogger CJ Arlotta.

If AirWatch offers management capabilities for Ubuntu Edge, it could give Canonical instant credibility with BYOD consumers; corporate IT managers; and MSPs and VARs that remotely manage customer devices.

Make the call, Canonical.