When the next version of Ubuntu Linux ships in April, there’s a reasonable chance that server vendors could start jumping on the Ubuntu bandwagon by May or so, according to our sister Web site, www.thevarguy.com. And if Ubuntu gains server traction, it could move more easily into the Software as a Service (SaaS) industry.

Here's The VAR Guy's complete post:

Ubuntu 8.04, code-named Hardy Heron, will contain several significant server-focused enhancements. Ars Technica offers readers a pretty comprehensive look at an Alpha release of the operating system upgrade.Canonical, the organization that backs Ubuntu, is quietly working behind the scenes to line up server support for the new operating system. Dell insiders say they are keeping a close eye on Ubuntu Server, and many bloggers have speculated that the PC giant would certify its servers for Ubuntu. But Dell’s official corporate blog, Direct2Dell, has been very quiet about that potential move.

Canonical, meanwhile, is walking a fine line as it evangelizes Ubuntu for the server but also tries not to hype its server initiative.During a phone conversation with The VAR Guy earlier this week, Canonical Marketing Manager Gerry Carr said the organization was in touch with all of the major server vendors — and he mentioned IBM, Sun and Dell in passing — but he conceded a lot of work needs to be done for Ubuntu to repeat its desktop success on the server.

That’s for sure. Red Hat remains firmly entrenched on enterprise servers and Novell has shown reasonable momentum on the server as well. And let’s not forget about Microsoft, which is making its big Windows Server 2008 push.

Still, Canonical sees a niche — small and midsize businesses — for its own server play. For starters, Canonical’s recent release of an administration tool — called Landscape — could make Ubuntu servers and desktops easier to manage. But Canonical will also need to get ISVs (independent software vendors) to more aggressively promote their applications on Ubuntu.

Who Will Be On Board?

Carr stopped short of predicting which server vendors will certify their systems for Ubuntu. However, Dell insiders continue to talk up the operating system to The VAR Guy. Our resident blogger is visiting Dell later this month, and will dig for more info.

Meanwhile, Sun has signed on to sponsor Ubuntu Live, an industry conference for the operating system that will be held this July in Portland, Oregon. Watch for potential relationships between Ubuntu Server and Sun’s newly acquired MySQL team. MySQL’s CEO spoke at last year’s Ubuntu Live conference.

The VAR Guy is still poking around IBM and HP for their views on Ubuntu Server. IBM and Canonical recently announced a relationship that introduces DB2 Express-C to small and midsize businesses running Ubuntu. But IBM’s DB2 team is not to be confused with Big Blue’s server hardware business.

On the HP front, The VAR Guy last year reported that HP planned to pre-load Ubuntu on some desktops. Those reports turned out to be false, but HP some major HP customers have deployed Ubuntu-based desktops.

When Ubuntu 8.04 arrives in April, we should begin to see if HP and other server vendors are ready to line up behind the new operating system.