No doubt, you know Ubuntu 10.04 debuts today. Most Ubuntu trackers are focused on the desktop and server editions -- where Canonical seems to be making progress with ISVs and partners. But during a recent discussion with Canonical Chief Operating Officer Matt Asay (pictured), it became clear to me that Canonical thinks Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud may unlock key revenue opportunities for the company. Here's why.

Of course, Canonical is pursuing multiple strategies to drive revenue. A few examples include:
  • Ubuntu desktop and server support
  • Subscription revenue from Landscape, a remote management tool for Ubuntu. Landscape is available as both as SaaS and on-premises solution
  • Subscription revenue from Ubuntu One, the online storage and file sharing system
  • Revenues from the new Ubuntu One Music Store
  • Consulting revenues from multiple projects, including Canonical's decision to help Google with Chrome OS
  • Some new opportunities around Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud
How are all of those revenue streams performing? As an outsider looking in, it's impossible for me to say. But my recent conversation with Asay offered some interesting insights -- especially with regard to Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. "I think the cloud was made for Canonical," said Asay. "On the desktop and the server some people have been conditioned not to pay. We remain one-thousand percent committed to a free OS strategy. That makes my job hard. But in the cloud -- it doesn't. People are conditioned to pay in the cloud."

Asay says Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud now has 12,000 active deployments, with 200 new ones coming online each day. (Still, we didn't get into deep details about how many of those deployments are monetized.)

Within a few months, Canonical plans to announce "more cloud services" and Canonical will keep "rolling out new functionality into a subscription offering," said Asay.

More Money Matters

Asay declined to discuss specific details about Canonical's revenue streams. But he did offer some more clues about how Canonical's business is shaping up.

On the revenue front, Canonical's fiscal year runs April 2010 to March 2011. Asay predicts Canonical will "do multiples over what we did last year. We're starting from a good [revenue] number and we'll do several times more than in the previous year."

As part of that effort, Canonical is rolling out an enterprise subscription service within the next few weeks. And on the desktop, Canonical has signed a "fantastic deal" that's worth a lot every year."

Still, Asay concedes that Canonical faces challenges. Roughly 300 of the company's 330 employees are engineers -- meaning that Canonical still needs to ramp up its marketing and sales efforts more aggressively. But "because the company didn’t focus on money so long, the opportunities to make money are just sitting there."