During a phone briefing today, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth described the Ubuntu 9.10 desktop, server and cloud strategy to members of the IT media. WorksWithU tuned in and posed some key questions to Shuttleworth. Here are 10 highlights from the call.
As you'll recall, Ubuntu 9.10 is scheduled to debut Oct. 29. Shuttleworth's thoughts from today's call included:
1. The User Experience: "We wanted to bring design and user experience to [the Linux] desktop." Shuttleworth believes Ubuntu 9.10 achieves those goals.
2. Competition with Microsoft, Windows 7: Shuttleworth concedes that Windows 7 is impressive but "it's still proprietary and expensive." Also, he says, OEMs have "no desire" to go back to a single-vendor operating system market.
3. On the Netbook Market: Shuttleworth concedes that Microsoft "clawed its way" back dramatically in the U.S. netbook market with Windows XP. But he hopes once the Windows 7 dust settles, vendors and users alike will realize Ubuntu netbooks are a natural choice.
4. On Oracle's Buyout of Sun (and MySQL): Shuttleworth sees no reason for regulators to block Oracle's buyout of Sun Microsystems nor, by association, the MySQL open source database. Shuttleworth doesn't see an opportunity for Oracle to abuse its database power. Plus, he notes that open source code can quickly fragment if there's community concern about the governance and leadership of a project.
5. On Canonical's March Toward Profits: Shuttleworth says he has "no concerns" at this stage about Canonical's ability to achieve profitability. If necessary, Canonical could quickly focus on specific business areas that are self-sustainable in the near-term, he asserted. But at this point in Canonical's five-year business journey, Shuttleworth remains convinced that the best strategy is to make Ubuntu an end-to-end solution.
Translation: Shuttleworth isn't ready to say how soon Canonical could achieve profitability. But he's basically saying the company is willing to lose money in certain areas as new businesses ramp up and strengthen the overall Ubuntu ecosystem.
It's a daring bet considering how many different areas of focus Canonical has taken on. But then again, I doubt we would have launched WorksWithU if Canonical only wanted Ubuntu to be a desktop operating system.
6. Simple Commercial Software Installs: The Ubuntu Software Center will gradually gain more and more commercial software options -- though the exact details of those efforts are still being worked out.
7. Closed Source ISVs -- Still A Challenge: Shuttleworth conceded that Canonical's biggest weakness in the enterprise remains a lack of traditional closed source ISVs. The elephant in the room was Oracle...
8. But There Is ISV Progress: Still, Shuttleworth was quick to note continued ISV progress with such companies as IBM's information management group, Alfresco (open source content management) and JasperSoft (open source business intelligence).
9. Amazon As A Cloud Standard: Shuttleworth said Amazon's cloud APIs are emerging as a de facto cloud standard, though he expects open, vendor-neutral cloud standards to gradually materialize.
10. Sever Hardware Relationships: Shuttleworth conceded that he had no new server relationship or certification deals to disclose. From where I sit, it seems as if Amazon Web Services (particularly, the Elastic Compute Cloud/EC2) and Eucalyptus cloud technology are emerging as Canonical's most reliable doorway into the server market.
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