I must concede: Sometimes I worry Canonical is trying to do too much too soon with Ubuntu. From mobile devices all the way to enterprise servers and cloud computing, founder Mark Shuttleworth has big aspirations for Ubuntu. There are times when I think Canonical is stretched too thin on multiple fronts. But just when I get really worried, the company makes a major move that impresses me. A case in point: Open source expert Matt Asay has joined Canonical as chief operating officer. It's a big move for Canonical, Ubuntu and Asay. Here's why.

Asay arrives at a critical time in Canonical's history. The company is transitioning the CEO role from Mark Shuttleworth to Jane Silber. A major product launch (Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx) seek to push Canonical much deeper in the business market, from mobile devices to cloud computing. And Canonical continues to launch and build new new services like Landesk Landscape and Ubuntu One.

So why do I worry? When I speak with Canonical insiders, I sometimes sense the enormity of the challenges they're facing. Different product groups are working toward different goals. Somebody has to coordinate all those efforts. That's where Silber and Asay enter the picture.

Asay's track record at Alfresco and Novell on open source business matters is strong. He understands how to monetize open source without alienating a community -- a difficult balancing act for many commercial open source efforts.

And full disclosure: I've met Asay a few times. And I've linked to his blog, The Open Road, over and over again because of his business insights.

Asay explains his move to Canonical in his own blog. And Canonical says Asay will be:
"Responsible for aligning strategic goals and operational activities, the optimization of day-to-day operations, and leadership of Canonical marketing and back-office functions.

Most recently VP, Business Development for Alfresco, Asay has been involved with open source since 1998, and is one of the industry's leading open source business strategists."
As I've pointed out multiple times, Canonical has grand ambitions in multiple software markets. The company needs an expanded executive team to potentially meet those lofty goals. Asay arrives just in time.