Canonical is diversifying how it delivers Landscape -- a remote management tool for Ubuntu servers, desktops and mobile devices. The forthcoming Canonical moves have clear implications for Ubuntu customers, resellers and managed service providers. Here's some analysis.

Until now, Landscape was only available through a hosted/SaaS (software as a service) configuration. But in September 2009, Canonical plans to launch Landscape Dedicated Server -- which customers will be able to install and run on their local networks.

According to a prepared statement from Canonical:
Landscape Dedicated Server will give customers the flexibility to download package updates from their own private repository or the Ubuntu public package repository.
Longer term, Canonical is working on a Landscape configuration that service providers (ISPs, MSPs, VARs, etc.) can leverage to remotely manage their customer networks, according to Ken Drachnick, Landscape manager at Canonical. It sounds like the potential Landscape service provider edition will debut sometime in 2010.

What It Does

In the meantime, Canonical says Landscape Dedicated Server will:
  • install in a customer’s data center and provide all of the package management, auditing and monitoring capability of the hosted service for both physical and cloud-based Ubuntu instances.
  • be able to be configured to manage systems on a network with limited or no access to the public Internet. All system configuration, policies, and profiles are stored locally on the internal infrastructure.
  • provide users with a web interface on which all machines are registered. From this single interface, packages and security updates are deployed to the entire network of servers and/or desktops with a single click.
Canonical says Landscape Dedicated Server will cost $150 per node -- plus server, installation and support fees (though I'm not sure what those fees involve). In contrast, Landscape Hosted Service (SaaS) costs $150 per node per year.

Three Reasons to Believe

Canonical's decision to deliver Landscape as a hosted or on-premise solution is a smart one. The reasons:
  1. Not everyone trusts the cloud; many customers continue to prefer on-premise options that they can lock away in their own data centers.
  2. Emerging markets often have weak or intermittent broadband connections -- limiting the potential use of Landscape Hosted Edition. Landscape Dedicated Server circumvents those broadband issues.
  3. Canonical's long-term Landscape strategy increasingly includes service providers and channel partners, reflecting the fact that Ubuntu's best chance for mass corporate adoption involves partners.
Still, Landscape remains an Ubuntu-only management tool, which could limit the software's appeal in heterogeneous enterprises.

We'll be in touch with Landscape Dedicated Server beta testers in the next few weeks to garner their feedback.

Follow WorksWithU via Identi.ca, Twitter and RSS (available now) and our newsletter (coming soon).