Dear Matt Asay,
It is great that you are now COO of the worlds leading Free Software company. We look forward to Canonical growing and changing over the next few years. Canonical has a world class management team, an epic engineering staff and the support of a huge and amazing community.
LONDON, February 5, 2010 – Canonical Ltd., the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, announced today that open source industry veteran Matt Asay has joined the company as chief operating officer (COO) — responsible for aligning strategic goals and operational activities, the optimization of day-to-day operations, and leadership of Canonical marketing and back-office functions.
Part of your role appears to be figuring out how to help a Free Software company make money (monetise is not a great word). We don’t think “Open Core” is the right way. That might work for a proprietary company that just wants to leverage a community to do free marketing for them. We would like Canonical to be a Free Software company – and for it to make money.
Here are some ideas we think offer good potential for a reasonably quick return on investment.
Please take a long hard look at the partner ecosystem and programmes. There has been staggering amounts of effort put into community building around Ubuntu, but really not much of this has been directed at companies who want to support and participate in Ubuntu. There is no Launchpad group for partners. No mailing list. No IRC channel. There are just three other partners apart from ourselves in the UK. We would like to see lots of UK partners, and we would like to see them talking to each other; doing joint marketing events, subbing business out to each other as they run out of capacity to meet the growing market demands, you know the kind of thing. Creating a community of partners is one sure way to get your messages across faster and more consistently.
We’d like Canonical to produce more business-focussed events where you show off some of the cool things you and your customers are doing with Ubuntu like Landscape and the Eucalyptus private enterprise cloud. Talk about some of the amazing business-centric applications that run on Ubuntu like OpenERP, Asterisk, Alfresco etc. With a strong partner network getting bums-on-seats is less of a chore and you are more likely to get quality delegates too.
Please encourage and promote the whole “opportunistic developer” thing that is going on with Quickly, Launchpad and Ground Control. This is really fantastic stuff and could be a big differentiator. Our opportunity is to show businesses how:
- They can use Quickly to develop internal applications hosted on launchpad and then with Ground Control they can empower all their staff to improve the tools they work with.
- Quickly and Launchpad and the Ubuntu One CouchDB back end can be used to develop internal applications that work online and offline and share information between desktopcouchdb instances.
- Quickly and CouchDB have all the security and authentication and workflow of Lotus Notes without the clunky UI widgets and general user interface direness. Couchdb can do that at the back end and Quickly/GTK can take care of the UI.
One last thing, get Alfresco back in the repositories. It was in the partner repo for 9.04 and was nearly great, just a few minor issues. In 9.10 and 10.04 it isn’t present. Simply not there. As it is in the partner repo and not one of the Canonical or community maintained repos there is very little we can do to help, much as we would like to. You know how great Alfresco is, you know how great Ubuntu is. They belong together. Jump up and down until it happens. If Canonical/Alfresco will commit to not putting it in the partner repo that is a perfectly acceptable alternative, it is GPL licensed Free Software, we will work with others in the community to get it in the Universe repo and maintain it there.
Good luck Matt, we very much look forward to working with you and Canonical over the coming years,
Alan Bell & Alan Lord
The Open Learning Centre