Am I suggesting that Canonical is abandoning potential support revenue from Ubuntu? Certainly not. Rather, I'm pointing to a range of services built around Ubuntu.
Three quick examples include:
1. Ubuntu One: The online storage and file sharing system is in beta test now. The first 2GB are free; 10GB of storage costs (US)$10 per month.
- The Opportunity: 12 percent of WorksWithU readers say they're willing to pay for Ubuntu One. That figure, based on a reader poll we conducted in June, may sound low. But I think it's a reasonably good figure.
- The Challenge: Ubuntu One only works with Ubuntu 9.o4. No Windows. No Mac OS X. I move between Mac OS X and Ubuntu regularly... and I wish Ubuntu One allowed me to share files between those two systems.
- The Opportunity: No doubt, CIOs and business executives are trying to figure out how to build and maintain secure private clouds that drive down IT costs but increase information sharing.
- The Challenges: Do CIOs really think of Ubuntu when they think of clouds? Canonical is going to need some big-name partners for the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud Services. (Collect call to IBM...). Meanwhile, Red Hat has announced a cloud certification/partner program, and Amazon.com -- a powerful brand in cloud computing -- is the first named partner.
- The Opportunity: Canonical could take Landscape in multiple directions. Canonical itself could become a managed service provider that remotely administers customers' Ubuntu networks, much in the way that Dell launched ProManage Managed Services to remotely manage customer systems. Canonical could also promote Landscape as a platform for VARs and resellers to use to remotely manage customer networks.
- The Challenges: Landscape remains a work in progress. Until Ubuntu more deeply penetrates corporate networks, Landscape won't be able to fully flex it's own muscles.
Smart StrategyGenerally speaking I like Canonical's decision to pursue revenue opportunities outside of the base Ubuntu operating system support services.
Think of it this way: Cisco Systems has a core operating system (IOS), but Cisco made its profits on a range of solutions built around that operating system.
Or think of it this way: Netscape originally made its money around a core product (the Navigator browser). But when the browser market became a zero-sum revenue game, Netscape didn't have strong enough alternative revenue streams.
No doubt, Microsoft wants to crush Canonical before Ubuntu is a financially viable, self-sustaining operating system. Canonical is wise to put a few additional irons in the fire.
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