Two key partners -- IBM and Virtual Bridges -- seem to be giving Canonical and Ubuntu a substantial lift. Specifically, IBM and Virtual Bridges have been lining up channel partners and customers that are embracing virtualized Ubuntu desktops.

IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical first announced their joint efforts back in December 2008. Today, the trio provided an update on that work. During the first quarter of 2009, sixteen new VARs and integrators signed up to support Virtual Bridges' software -- which centralizes and virtualizes Ubuntu desktops on IBM servers.

True believers include Midas Networks, a managed service provider in Austin, Texas, that is hosting virtualized Linux desktops for customers -- using a Software as a Service (SaaS) architecture.

Also today, IBM released a research report claiming Linux desktops are easier to implement than IT staff expected -- if the deployments targeted ideal user groups.

Who Needs Preloads?

The Virtual Bridges news, however, is the item that really caught my attention. Here's why: Plenty of critics want Canonical to earn more preload deals with PC and server vendors. And Canonical is working hard to sign those preload agreements.

Virtualization and cloud computing bypass the preload challenge, however, since desktop customers can go directly to a server or hosted system for Ubuntu services and productivity applications.

Of course, I need to offer my usual caveats:
  • I don't know if Virtual Bridges and its channel partners are actually profiting from these virtualized Ubuntu desktops.
  • I don't know how many customers (seats) actually license and use the technology.
  • Nor do I know how much money flows from customers to resellers to Virtual Bridges and finally to Canonical.
That's a lot of question marks. I'm speaking with IBM later today about the research study and Big Blue's relationship with Canonical and Virtual Bridges. Stay tuned.

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