When Canonical launched Landscape 1.5 this week, it was a timely reminder that the software company is trying to develop multiple revenue streams beyond Ubuntu services. Moreover, Landscape 1.5 represents Canonical's latest attempt to make Ubuntu easier for businesses and solutions providers to remotely manage. Here's a closer look at the Landscape strategy.

Canonical will go into deeper details about Landscape 1.5 during a webcast on May 27. In the meantime, Landscape Manager Ken Drachnik points to three Landscape enhancements. According to a blog entry from Drachnik, Landscape 1.5 supports:
  • Package Profiles, which allow users to define profiles (lists of packages) that constitute a configuration (e.g. a Web server) then deploy that list of packages to a new system.
  • LTS to LTS Upgrades: Drachnik says it's now easy for administrators to automate upgrades from one Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release to the latest LTS release.
  • Package pinning, which ensures you can lock down a legacy application and its dependencies. If someone tries to upgrade the locked packages, the packages will remain in their current state.
Canonical in 2009 also made some strategic changes to how Landscape is delivered. Originally, Landscape was purely a SaaS (software as a service) platform that partners and customers could remotely access. But Canonical took the extra step to introduce an on-premises Landscape release.

Canonical now brands Landscape around a Hosted Edition and the Dedicated Server Edition. Plus, Landscape can manage both physical and virtual Ubuntu systems -- including virtual instances in the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud or Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). There are also signs that Canonical will fine-tune Landscape for VARs and managed services providers (MSPs).

But how exactly is Landscape doing in the market? First, is it generating substantial revenues for Canonical? And second, is it helping partners and customers to more easily remotely manage Ubuntu systems?

I think it's safe to say that Landscape, like many emerging Canonical efforts, remains a solid work in progress. I've reached out to Drachnik to see if he can share deeper details about how Landscape is performing in the market. No doubt, Canonical needs to spotlight a few Landscape partners and customers to generate more buzz around the platform. We'll dig for those case studies in the months ahead.