Plenty of people jumped on the bandwagon when Ubuntu 9.04 debuted on April 23. But independent software vendors (ISVs) were mostly absent from the launch party. Fast forward to Ubuntu 9.10's anticipated launch in October 2009, and Canonical hopes to deliver a far more impressive ISV story. Here's the scoop.

Details are still sketchy. But sources tell me Canonical is adjusting some internal employee roles. The result will be a stronger, more immediate emphasis on ISV relations, especially as Canonical prepares to launch Ubuntu 9.10.

During the 9.04 launch in April, CEO Mark Shuttleworth conceded that Canonical needed to make more progress attracting proprietary applications to Ubuntu. Critics note that Oracle has yet to certify its database on Ubuntu.

Now that Oracle is acquiring Sun Microsystems (and the MySQL database), a strong Canonical-Oracle relationship could potentially bolster Canonical's enterprise credibility.

On the open source applications front, Ubuntu's progress has been hit and miss. During the LinuxWorld conference in mid-2008, several ISVs -- from Alfresco to Openbravo -- lined up and vowed to support Ubuntu. But few ISVs announced any major progress for the Ubuntu 9.04 launch.

The Developing ISV Picture

Still, Canonical and its partners are working to coordinate their efforts. A key example: During the Openbravo World Conference (April 17-19, Barcelona), Canonical ISV Manager John Pugh was on the agenda to describe the business case for running Openbravo's ERP software on Ubuntu Server Edition.

Pugh, by the way, had a 10-year tour of duty at Novell, where he was a systems engineer, strategist, and partner channel executive.

Another key ISV, open source email provider Zimbra, continues to work closely with Canonical. During a phone chat with me earlier this week, Zimbra VP of business development Andy Pflaum told me that desktop deployments of Zimbra on Ubuntu (and Mac OS X) were unusually high compared to industry norms.

In other words, Pflaum believes, Ubuntu and Mac OS X users are frustrated with other email clients and moving to Zimbra.

As we discussed the Linux distribution landscape, Pflaum seemed most proud of Zimbra's Red Hat relationship -- noting the recent Open Source Channel Alliance news involving Red Hat, Zimbra and nearly a dozen other companies. He also expressed support for Novell SUSE, though his tone wasn't quite as passionate during that point of the conversation. By the time we got to the desktop Ubuntu discussion, Pflaum's voice perked up again in a big way.

That's exactly what Canonical and Ubuntu need right now: Passionate ISVs.

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