First, some background: Ubuntu certainly has momentum on the desktop. But Canonical is evangelizing Ubuntu on servers as well. And that effort requires enterprise software partners, as Matt Asay points out.
What's MissingWhen Ubuntu 9.04 launched in April 2009, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said Ubuntu's server edition had been tested on 45 different server configurations from Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and other server suppliers. More recently, Canonical has launched server training through partners like Fast Lane and Bridge Education. And HP in June 2009 began certifying some ProLiant servers to run Ubuntu.
Nice. But Ubuntu still faces an uphill battle across...
1. Servers. Competing against Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE Linux won't be easy. Last week, Dell insiders told The VAR Guy that Dell has no plans to pre-load Ubuntu Server Edition -- even as Dell continues forward with Ubuntu on selected notebooks, netbooks and desktops. Simply put, Ubuntu needs more server sofware ISVs -- including Oracle -- to attract customers and hardware makers.
2. Desktops: As Windows 7 debuts, the noise around Windows and Mac OS will grow louder again -- threatening to push back Linux's recent desktop gains.
3. Netbooks: Windows 7 is one concern. But the bigger threats to Ubuntu come from the open source community itself. Google Android and Intel Moblin could potentially attract developer and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) attention away from Ubuntu on netbooks and mobile Internet devices (MIDs).
Oracle's ChallengesMeanwhile, Oracle's Unbreakable Linux strategy is... um... broken. Or stated more tactfully:
1. CIOs and VARs are not exactly banging on Oracle's door for Linux. And the Windows Server-SQL Server combination remains a powerful one-two punch for Microsoft.
2. Red Hat is gaining momentum outside of Linux, promoting JBoss middleware against Oracle's BEA and other middleware offerings. Yes, Red Hat is attacking -- and succeeding -- in a core Oracle market.
Oracle's OpportunitiesOne simple solution: Oracle should partner more closely with Canonical on both the server and the desktop.
On the server, an Oracle-Ubuntu combination could emerge as a popular alternative to Oracle-Red Hat, Oracle-SUSE and SQL Server-Windows.
On desktops, Oracle will likely inherit close ties to the OpenOffice community as part of the Sun Microsystems acquisition:
"Sun continues to sponsor development on OpenOffice.org and is the primary contributor of code to OpenOffice.org."Together, Oracle and Canonical could use OpenOffice to achieve some common goals:
1. Further harm Microsoft's desktop revenue stream.
2. Accelerate Ubuntu's desktop momentum.
3. Offset any potential desktop gains by Red Hat and Novell.
Hot SpeculationThe VAR Guy isn't suggesting Oracle and Canonical are in discussions about a partnership. Besides, Matt Asay is the guy you need to blame if you think the Oracle-Ubuntu chatter is a waste of time. Matt got this ball rolling. The VAR Guy merely threw a third name (OpenOffice) into the Oracle-Ubuntu chatter.
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