canonical-ubuntu-linux-gold-partnerCanonical has organized its Ubuntu partner program into three segments -- business partners, technology partners and training partners. But to spot the next generation of potential Ubuntu channel partners you need to check out two areas: Cloud computing and the so-called Ubuntu Marketplace. Here's the scoop from The VAR Guy.

First, it's important to keep things in perspective. Generally speaking, Canonical's partner program is a work in progress -- organized into three segments:
  1. Business Partners: Consultants, Resellers and Systems Integrators
  2. Technology Partners: Hardware Vendors (IHVs), Software Partners (ISVs) and Systems Builders/OEMs
  3. Training Partners: Academic trainers and Commercial Trainers
So far, so good.

Dig a little deeper and you'll find a new segment listed as Cloud Partners -- a critical area that could make-or-break Canonical's server strategy. Early cloud partners include Eucalyptus Systems, Amazon Web Services, Cohesive Flexible Technologies and RightScale.

The VAR Guy is familiar with three of those four cloud partners -- but he needs to read up on CohesiveFT -- which specializes in virtual and cloud computing infrastructures.

Next Steps

Canonical has started developing case studies to articulate Ubuntu's business value to end-customers and partners.

But looking ahead, the company need to articulate how partners (of all types) actually profit from Ubuntu and/or Canonical's related services (Ubuntu One, Landscape, etc.).

Also, Canonical needs to more strongly promote its system builder partners. In North America, for instance, LinuxCertified Inc. is the only certified system builder partner listed on Canonical's web site.

What about Dell, System76, ZaReason and a lengthy list of additional Ubuntu PC proponents? Are they not certified Ubuntu partners? If not, why not? (And let's not forget the Ubuntu server market, where System76 and ZaReason both compete.)

The VAR Guy will explore the Ubuntu certified system builder market a bit more closely in the days ahead.

The Ubuntu Marketplace

Meanwhile, Canonical is building out the Ubuntu Marketplace -- a "network of companies that provide local support for desktops and servers running Ubuntu."

The marketplace is filled with smaller resellers and IT consulting firms. And it could serve as a proving ground that transforms aspiring Ubuntu partners into some of Canonical's more strategic partners, The VAR Guy believes.

Still, Canonical's partner program remains a work in progress. More and more channel partners, it seems, are backing Ubuntu. But now it's time for Canonical and those partners to increasingly articulate how they're profiting from Ubuntu.

The VAR Guy covers channel partner programs on his own site. Follow WorksWithU via Identi.ca, Twitter and RSS (available now) and our newsletter (coming soon).