The biggest headlines Canonical has made recently have involved its endeavor to "converge" Ubuntu across devices by adding support for phones, tablets and TVs. But in a sign that it remains invested in the server realm as well--and that it is continuing to build a closer relationship with Dell (NASDAQ: DELL)--Canonical has also announced a new agreement to support Ubuntu on Dell PowerEdge servers.
Under this most recent Canonical-Dell partnership, which Canonical announced on its blog March 11, 2013, Dell will now list Ubuntu Server in its Linux OS Support Matrix. Previously, only Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and SUSE products were included on that short list specifying which Linux variants Dell supports through collaborative agreements with channel partners.
Meanwhile, Canonical will add Dell's 11G & 12G PowerEdge servers to its database of hardware officially certified to work with Ubuntu 12.04. For enterprise customers, the agreement means a more streamlined support experience, according to Canonical, especially for those who purchase the Ubuntu Advantage enterprise support program that the company offers.
To make the partnership possible, Dell and Canonical implemented several specific improvements to Ubuntu support for PowerEdge hardware. These include better support for SSD devices connected via PCIe interfaces, consistent naming of network devices and PowerEdge RAID controller support.
The agreement comes in the midst of what seems to be a reinvigorated trend toward close collaboration between Dell and Canonical. Although partnerships between the two companies go back quite a while--with the most memorable being the effort, starting in 2007, to sell Dell PCs and laptops with Ubuntu preinstalled--there seemed to be a bit of a lapse in close relations for the last few years. That changed recently with the debut of the Project Sputnik laptop, and the momentum now seems to be continuing in the server space.
At the same time, this news is also a reminder that even as Canonical expands aggressively into new hardware niches, it has hardly given up on the enterprise-server space that represents the bread-and-butter of many major open source vendors. That's a smart strategy, since putting Ubuntu on mobile devices and TVs is a big investment that might take a long time to pay dividends. Keeping a finger in the server pie is an assurance for Canonical as it also moves into uncharted waters.