What's more important: Ubuntu's success in cloud computing or on mobile devices? The answer is both, according to Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth. During a quick conversation with The VAR Guy at the recent OpenStack Summit, Shuttleworth said Ubuntu -- a popular Linux distribution for PCs -- must succeed both in the cloud and mobile worlds because they are the two biggest IT waves empowering customers today. Plus, he added, the world wants a Google Android alternative.

Most of Shuttleworth's keynote at the conference described how big service providers -- including AT&T -- now leverage Ubuntu for cloud services. Again and again, Shuttleworth described big service providers and telecom companies that now use Ubuntu.

During that quick chat in the Canonical booth, The VAR Guy asked if those service providers were paying Canonical for Ubuntu support and related services. Without naming names, Shuttleworth said many service providers were, indeed, paying customers. And during a separate conversation with one of Canonical's top server executives, The VAR Guy heard cloud computing was one of Canonical's fastest-growing revenue streams.

Still, firm revenue numbers from Canonical are hard to come by. And Shuttleworth isn't letting the cloud overshadow his mobile ambitions. "The world wants an alternative to Android" on smartphones, Shuttleworth told The VAR Guy. Naturally, Shuttleworth is betting Ubuntu can be that alternative...

Canonical's secret sauce is a single Ubuntu code base that scales across smart phones, tablets, PCs, servers and cloud systems -- oh, and TVs. In the mobile space, keep an eye on Canonical's MIR project. And in the cloud market, channel partners should closely monitor Canonical's focus on OpenStack and ongoing relationships with server makers like Dell and HP.

Can Canonical really balance the worlds of cloud computing and mobile? Shuttleworth sure sounded optimistic at the OpenStack summit. But entrenched rivals like Apple iOS, Android and a range of cloud platforms won't be easy to leapfrog.