In an effort to rally solutions providers around Ubuntu Linux, Canonical is telling resellers that 11 percent of U.S. businesses already run Ubuntu. That's impressive, but when will VARs truly jump on the Ubuntu bandwagon? Here are some clues from The VAR Guy.

For more than a year, Canonical has been piecing together a global channel of partners, distributors and solutions providers. Much of the effort started during Ubuntu Live, a mid-2007 conference in Portland, Oregon. At the time, Canonical executives described how the company was developing training centers to help get IT pros acclimated to Ubuntu.

Fast forward to the present day, and Canonical's partner program remains in its infancy. The VAR Guy recently spoke with five solutions providers listed on Canonical's web site, and three of them conceded they had done no business with Canonical so far in 2008. Ouch.

Canonical is hoping to change that by bolstering Ubuntu Server Edition's support among ISVs (independent software vendors). As more ISVs rally around Ubuntu, more server hardware makers and resellers will promote Ubuntu, asserted Canonical VP Malcolm Yates during a chat at LinuxWorld Expo. The VAR Guy certainly agrees with that reasoning.

When The VAR Guy toured Canonical's LinuxWorld Expo booth, he noticed some marketing materials especially prepared for solutions providers. One handout noted that:
"Around 11 percent of businesses in the US are using Ubuntu according to a recent IDC report."
Impressive. But perhaps a tiny bit misleading? Many of those businesses run Ubuntu as their development or testing environments, relying instead on Unix, Red Hat, Novell and Windows Server for production environments.

Still, growing ISV interest in Ubuntu may stir demand for Ubuntu in the channel, The VAR Guy believes. In that handout for solutions providers, Canonical noted that the company is:
"...constantly increasing the number of products that are built and certified to run on Ubuntu."
A sample list of ISVs included:
  • Alfresco
  • Centrify
  • EnterpriseDB
  • IBM DB2
  • IBM Domino Server
  • IBM Lotus Notes
  • IBM WebSphere
  • Ingres
  • Likewise
  • MySQL
  • Openbravo
  • Open-Xchange
  • Parallels
  • Qumranet
  • SugarCRM
  • Userful
  • VMware ESX Server
  • VMware Server
  • Zarafa
  • Zimbra
  • Zmanda
That's not the longest ISV list in the world. But it's a start. With any luck, VARs will follow ISVs into the Ubuntu market.