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

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41 Comments

  • Concerned Reader says:

    “…worlds leading Free Software company” – shouldn’t that be redhat?

  • Alan Bell says:

    Now that is an interesting question, is Red Hat the the worlds leading Free Software company, or a hybrid vendor?

    • Jef Spaleta says:

      If Red Hat isn’t a Free Software company… Canonical surely is not either. That proprietary Landscape dedicate on premises server offering at $10k a pop is pretty awesomely not a free software product.

      And I’ll point out that the Free Software principles set forth by the FSF do not require no-cost distribution of binaries. They require source code access for customers under licensing term which guarantees modification and reuse. The fact that Canonical chooses to distribute binary versions of Ubuntu at no charge does not make it a Free Software company..its the source access that matters. The fact that Canonical is offering an on premises version of Landscape product with no source access clearly keeps Canonical out of the pure Free Software company category..it even keeps it out of the pure Open Source software company category and puts it firmly in the same category you want to place Red Hat into..a hybrid.

      So now that we have established that Red Hat and Canonical are both companies following hybrid models..which one has had a more significant impact on the growth of Free software in the last 5 years? I’m prepared to argue that its Red Hat.

      • Alan Bell says:

        Actually I wouldn’t argue that Red Hat isn’t a Free Software company. I think they are doing great, and have their own strategy. In terms of leadership, there is a lot of RHEL out there, but if you look generally at stuff in development, it all happens on Ubuntu. Yes I agree somewhat about the Landscape stuff and non-free bits of U1 etc. My point isn’t so much about where things are at the moment, but directions in which to go. I don’t want is a huge focus now on getting the money to come from holding code to ransom.

        • Jef Spaleta says:

          You wouldn’t argue that Red Hat isn’t a free software company…but you are the one who questioned that status in your previous post. Nice rhetorical dodge and weave there, when Fox News is looking for a technology pundit again I’ll put your name in as a suggestion.

          Most development is happening on Ubuntu? Really? How exactly do you measure that?
          Are you suggesting that Red Hat employees are using Ubuntu as a development platform when they are doing all that work on the linux kernel, on the plumbing layer above the kernel.. or the work they are doing inside the Gnome project?

          -jef

          • Alan Bell says:

            I pointed to where Matt Asay had been talking about hybrid vendors in relation to Red Hat. If you look carefully I made no assertions, just asked a question. To be honest I am not that interested in Red Hat or the past five years or the Linux kernel plumbing. I am more interested in Canonical and the next five years and the business applications running on top of a great platform that has lots of people from lots of affiliations working on it.

          • Matt Asay says:

            Jef, I know I’m biased, but I had the same perspective long before I got to Canonical (see my blog posts on the topic – several of them): Canonical/Ubuntu is *by far* the most popular (Linux) developer platform. At least, for the open-source ecosystem. Period. It’s not even a close race.

            It’s easily measured by asking the people at Alfresco, MySQL, Zimbra, etc. etc. Every single one of them will tell you that Ubuntu is their #1 platform for evaluation/development phases. And they’ll also tell you that when people go into production, they generally use RHEL.

            But that’s the same thing that they used to do with JBoss (develop on JBoss, go into production on BEA/IBM). And MySQL. The trick for Canonical is to ensure that we give compelling reasons for companies to stay with the Ubuntu community into production. (This, Alan and Alan, more than anything else will ensure that Canonical can remain the free-software company that it is while still making money. Enterprises pay when they’re using a platform in production. But I like your other ideas, too, and will circulate them here. Plus we should get together when I’m in London next week.)

            This is the great opportunity, and big risk, for Canonical: to supercharge the wonderful Ubuntu community without stalling it through heavy-handed commercialization. I think Red Hat has done a fantastic job of commercializing Linux, but it may have done so at the expense of its community. I’m not criticizing the move (i.e., to go Advanced Server/RHEL only and defocus everything else), but believe there’s an even bigger opportunity for the company that can maintain both the community and commercial sides of things. I think Canonical has that opportunity.

          • Alan: “To be honest I am not that interested in Red Hat or the past five years or the Linux kernel plumbing.”

            Sure, but you’re (unintentionally, I expect) redirecting the discussion. The initial point was to dispute the article’s assertion that Canonical is “the worlds leading Free Software company.” You can’t base such an assertion on the future, only on the past and the present. It’s not really a huge deal, but surely you can appreciate why it would rub RH’ers up the wrong way. :)

          • Alan Bell says:

            @Adam, yeah, I was redirecting the discussion. Back to Ubuntu. Really not sure why we ended up discussing Red Hat. Maybe if we call Canonical “one of the worlds leading Free Software companies” we can all agree. I really have nothing against Red Hat, I am simply more interested in Canonical.

        • Jef Spaleta says:

          Matt,
          Do number of deployments of zero acquisition cost deployments equal “worlds leading Free Software company?” I would not characterize what Red Hat has done as being done at the expense of community. I would call it smart, sustainable growth as compared to the Canonical vision of suburban sprawl.

          Zimbra is a very interesting case in particular. When you go back and talk to them again about their use of Ubuntu internally as a development platform…can you asked them why exactly they are no longer part of Canonical’s partner repository? Is it because Canonical’s priced their packaging services too high to be considered a valuable service? Is that why Alfresco has never joined Canonical’s partner repository program?

          ISVs like Zimbra are leveraging the zero cost model for Ubuntu for their own immediate benefit..but that does not build a sustainable support model for either Canonical nor Ubuntu. Zimbra isn’t staffing any Core ubuntu developers are they? Are they paying for infrastructure and bandwidth that Ubuntu needs to do the packaging work are they?

          -jef

          • Alan Bell says:

            Zimbra was in the partner repo? There is something called zarafa in the Hardy partner repo, but I am unaware of Zimbra ever being there. It would be good if it was because Zimbra is a royal pain to install (or was last time I tried). Looking back through the partner repos for the various releases there is an interesting collection of applications coming and going. I don’t quite know what it means but I think I might have a go at assembling the data to see if it is interesting.

          • Alan Lord says:

            @Alan Bell, There was a press release many moons ago that Zimbra was “going to be” in the repos. It happened at a similar time to the announcement of Alfresco going there too.

            I don’t ever recall Zimbra actually getting there and it took an age for Alfresco only for it to disappear again.

            But this is a good discussion as it is clearly a problem worthy of solving IMHO.

          • Jef Spaleta says:

            The zdesktop product was available for at least Hardy. The server product never was.

            http://www.ubuntu.com/news/zimbra-desktop
            http://archive.canonical.com/pool/partner/z/zdesktop/

  • Ludovic Claude says:

    I would add: dear Matt, please read your charts without bias. Java is a great development environment, you have a very vast amount of developers who know the language, it’s now fully open-source (Open JDK is GPL licensed, and there are some very successful open source projects written in Java – Eclipse, Tomcat, Azureus and many more). So put more work to make Ubuntu more attractive to Java developers, and you will be rewarded with more great software for your platform.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10453213-16.html

    • Matt Asay says:

      Thanks, Ludovic. Don’t get me wrong: I love Java. Just remember that my CNET blog is an industry blog. I try to capture big-picture stuff there that may not reflect my views on everything (i.e., I try to report, though I’m not unbiased) and often won’t reflect Canonical’s perspective.

      I spent too long at a Java company to discard Java. :-)

  • Adam Hardy says:

    “We don’t think “Open Core” is the right way.”

    That’s why they didn’t hire you as COO.

    You lecturing Matt Assay how to run a business makes as much sense as Britain’s prime minister telling Linus how to maintain the Linux kernel.

    I know you feel important saying stuff like this publically but at the end of the day nobody who knows what they are doing is going to pay any attention to what you say. (Other than the fact that successful business people will probably be nice enough to make you feel as if you were somehow acknowledged.)

  • Bruno Girin says:

    I added this as solution #17 to this idea on Launchpad and linked back to this post. Alan & Alan, I completely agree with you.

  • Daeng Bo says:

    Quickly, Launchpad and Ground Control are certainly a revolution for Ubuntu development, but only if Ubuntu and Canonical actually _promote_ them. Right now, the Ubuntu Developer page just talks about packaging, not about how to get started writing anything. Quite sad, really.

    I just posted a blog about this fact. Since this kind of change in policy requires someone at a high level (e.g. Matt?) to make a decision about this, I don’t believe there’s anything I can do personally.

  • Matt Asay says:

    Jef, very good points, and I think I’m on the record enough over the past 10 years as to my admiration for Red Hat to not have to defend that further here. My thoughts on the company haven’t changed. It is an awesome organization (as I’m in the middle of blogging for cnet right now).

    I do think that Red Hat’s enterprise focus has left it exposed at the community level (Ubuntu has a much broader user base than Fedora), but that’s only a useful data point/point of differentiation if Canonical does something with it. We have plans on that score (which predate me joining the company), but there’s a lot of work to do (as you rightly point out).

    I personally feel that there is a lot of room for both companies in the market. There’s a heck of a lot of non-Linux stuff out there, and between the two companies I think we can nail it.

    • Jef Spaleta says:

      Between Red Hat and Canonical? What there’s no place for Google in your vision of a linux future? From where I sit, Google seem to be gearing up to fight directly with Apple for dominance of the growing consumer mobility sector. I think Google is going to nail it and push other linux offerings out except maybe for Nokia. I’m not really sure where that leaves Canonical.

      -jef

      • Holy crap, Jef, please stop depressing me. Google dominating the Linux future? it’s bad enough that it’s Tuesday…

        • Jef Spaleta says:

          It’s not my fault that the reality of Google’s march towards the Google neural implant is depressing. I’m just the messenger. None of us are going to escape getting one of those things implanted. But now that you know that, you can now make the most out of your remaining years of freedom before we are all assimilated.

          But here and now, to ignore the fact that Google really seems to be seriously focused about creating a consumer device experience that it controls is classic tunnel vision. The linux market can only be viewed as a two horse race between Red Hat and Canonical if you are wearing blinders and all you can see is Red Hat’s horse’s arse right in front of you.

          Google’s not just going to walk away from the consumer device space even if they screw up and fracture the Android marketplace. They are going to be engaging the exact same consumer OEM partners that Canonical wants to work with for both Intel and ARM and they are going to win OEM contracts. Hey anyone inside the Canonical fenceline want to comment on why exactly HP punted its Ubuntu based Mi netbook interface(they paid Canonical to help produce) but is now releasing an Android netbook? How that ARM porting work coming along? Any Ubuntu ARM devices going to hit retail in the next 6 months? And that’s not even commenting on the impending Android based MIPS device revolution which will need to happen ahead of the Google neural implant launch date.

          Shuttleworth’s ability to manage the burn rate of his personal cashpile for a decade to keep Canonical from sinking under its own weight maybe impressive. But it pales in comparison to the burnrate Google’s revenue can sustain while they prop up Android and ChromeOS and whatever comes after them as they shape society in preparation for the introduction of the Google neural implant.

          -jef

          • Alan Lord says:

            “… But it pales in comparison to the burnrate Google’s revenue can sustain while they prop up Android and ChromeOS and whatever comes after them as they shape society in preparation for the introduction of the Google neural implant.”

            Man, you sound like a fun guy to have a beer with ;-)

          • Google Brain: doing all that tiresome thinking for yourself is tiresome and inefficient. Let us do your thinking for you! Google already knows all your friends, work contacts, hobbies and interests; we can guide you through the rest of your life without you ever having to fire up another grey cell. Simply follow the prompts on your Google Phone in any work, social, private or family situation – any situation at all, really. Life is simple with Google Brain!

    • Bruno Girin says:

      Matt, I think there’s a lot of room for a lot of companies in the market, small and large. They don’t have to all be multi-nationals. As Alan points out, one way to do this is to develop the partner network. For instance, as an IT contractor and owner of my own small company, I am currently looking at whether it would make sense for me to do more Ubuntu related business and start becoming a partner. I’m sure I’m not alone and a lively partner community could get Ubuntu in places that none of us think of today.

  • Ed Daniel says:

    I’m going to chime in on this one as I like what I read in terms of what is ‘missing’ from many open source business strategies which is “how to engage the channel”. Everyone will agree how successful it has been to use open, transparent and collaborative software development practices but when it comes to ‘doing business’ there are few business people who have really understood or wanted to have transparent practices, after all when you go hunting you’re hardly going to want to share your kill, are you? Herein is the challenge that I feel is worth disrupting i.e. the traditional view of business sales / development practices – for now open source is a minority play in enterprise sales and a lot of that comes down to partner incentives. Recently Microsoft and HP inked a new deal to create a warchest to incentive their shared channel of partners in order to further compete against the rising tide of open source alternatives. Open source is quickly moving across the entire stack providing alternative choices to proprietary software – what is missing though is a collaborative effort between open source projects and service providers to improve go-to-market tools (think marcomms collateral, standard contracts) & proposition for the end-user / client. I would like to echo my support for the recommendations and furthermore I’d like to see that not only do these initiatives get implemented but also that everyone thinks about how to disrupt traditional thinking and actually get sales guys from different shops to work together in a co-opetitive fashion; because this strategy is the one strategy that is impossible for proprietary solution providers to adopt and in time the budget required to compete against this will put those proprietary marketing dollars under ever greater strain when a whole open source industry unites to deliver a unified message that doing open business is superior in quality and experience to closed business for the end-user / client – it is a long time ago since the days of arranging insurance in the back rooms of Lloyd’s tea shop, we live in a different world now and the salesmen must learn to co-exist with each other as well – a coopetitive model seems to me how that can be achieved.

    • Daeng Bo says:

      Ed,
      The Var Guy does a pretty good job of covering what FOSS companies are moving in the channel. Take a look.

      • Bruno Girin says:

        Daeng, thanks for the tip, I didn’t know about the VAR Guy. I presume you mean this: http://www.thevarguy.com/

      • Ed Daniel says:

        Thanks Daeng, have come across VARguy before. Feel free to express your opinion on my comment also.

        • Daeng Bo says:

          Ed,

          As I mentioned above, Quickly, Ground Control, and Lernid are great tools, but they aren’t mentioned on the developer page. My opinion has been for some time that Ubuntu needs a well-documented “SDK,” possibly delivered as its own distro (though a meta package could work just as well). I realize that writing software for Ubuntu is possible via many languages, toolkits, and IDEs so that there’s no specific SDK per se, but Ubuntu has chosen Python and GTK+ as the preferred language and toolkit.

          Tutorials for PyGTK almost all include Glade, which is deprecated in favor of GTKBuilder. Most other documentation is similarly out of date and targets old versions. Wading through them and working out what’s applicable is quite difficult. Getting up to speed on the standard libraries included in Ubuntu’s GNOME takes even more time. Canonical could supply all this documentation in a single place and make developing for Ubuntu simple to get involved in. Look to Apple’s developer page to get an idea. Even Microsoft’s .NET WPF page would work as a model. (No, I don’t use either of those systems or develop for them, but looking over the pages makes me feel like I _could_ with a little effort.)

          • Ed Daniel says:

            Thanks Daeng for reply… I think we’re talking at crossed purposes here though both opinions are probably making for an interesting read for the audience nonetheless. I follow entirely your view on how this area could be improved but I would like to draw you back to where I feel there is also room for improvement and opportunity that is not ‘technical’ for want of a better word, it’s about ‘persuasion’. As an example of persuasion you might like to browse these links, as example, to see where I’m coming from about “engaging the channel”:
            http://www.microsoft.com/uk/smallbusiness/default.aspx
            http://www.microsoft.com/uk/smallbusiness/campaigns/dowhatyoulove/more-competitive.aspx?xid=homepage-CentreLink-moreCompetitive
            The above links still hinge on empowering ISVs, VARs etc. to go out into the field with the tools to win business, even if they compete against each other. What I’m trying to highlight is what-if the open source business eco-system could come up with a co-operative model that would disrupt that and the only way to figure that out is to work with the sales and biz-dev guys to figure out how such a model might look like… reading the VARguy does not get me any closer to that area of interest. With a totally different model compared to proprietary businesses we, as an open source community which I view as a modern day cooperative of sorts, need to collaborate on marketing and sales much more than our proprietary competitors – while this is not uncommon amongst opensaucerers it needs to increase by a factor of 10, in the channel, IMHO.

          • Bruno Girin says:

            Daeng and Ed, I agree with both of you.

            1. Daeng’s idea

            Having an area of the wiki dedicated to development, with tutorials and examples for people who are new to Ubuntu development would be great. However, right now, tools like Quickly, Ground Control, Lernid or Acire are still in the incubation stage so are not quite ready for prime time.

            On the other hand, to do this properly, we need to take into account developers who come from other platforms. If you look at the development world today, you can roughly identify the following groups: Windows devs, Mac devs, Linux devs, Java devs. Windows and Mac devs work on the same model: you follow the standards issued by Redmond or Cupertino and you only use tools that have been certified by Redmond or Cupertino. Java devs are an interesting hybrid (I know I’m one of them): they are used to open source, because some of the best Java libraries and tools are open source, in particular the ones from the Apache foundation; they have a choice of tools to do their job, a lot of them are open source too; they code against open standards; etc. But there is one major aspect that they share with Windows and Mac devs and that is alien (or at least strange) to the Linux world: they use an IDE (Integrated Development Environment): in the morning, they come in, they fire up their IDE (MS Visual Studio, XCode, Eclipse, NetBeans, etc) and they do everything in it: update source code from the repository, create a new project, create and use code templates, compile code, run and debug it, package it, run test cases, fire up the coffee machine, etc. By contrast, on Linux, you end up having to use half a dozen different tools to do the same thing, unless you use Emacs. For someone coming from Windows, Mac or Java, the Linux dev environment looks very fragmented and difficult to understand.

            2. Ed’s idea

            Having an area of the wiki dedicated to ISVs and VARs would be great and would complement the developers’ area. This should be targeted at the sales departments of ISV and VAR companies.

            One issue in particular with open source is how do you build a successful business around it? In the Microsoft world it’s a no brainer: an ISV will sell his own software solutions on top of MS solutions for some good money => profit; a VAR will sell MS solutions, with services on top for money => profit. Customers will not hesitate to pay for the ISV’s software or the VAR’s services because they are already making an investment in MS software to start with and the extra services on top are meant to reduce the risk associated with that investment. How does that work in an open source world where the original software is open source and therefore free to use?

            Up to now, I have seen two successful models for companies who work with open source. #1 are the ones that have a product, for which there is an open source “community” edition but who sell an enterprise edition for a lot of cash, as well as services behind and have a support model that is such that, for most companies, there is less risk in buying the enterprise edition which includes bundled support than using the open source edition and risk spending gazillions on support costs. #2 are the ones who sell support and consultancy services on a well known open source product: they don’t have to convince the customer to get the product in the first place, most of the time they get a call because the customer is using an open source product and realises they need help with it.

            Sorry for this very long comment. It started simple enough and then it got out of hand :-)

          • Daeng Bo says:

            Ed,

            I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t actually think that we’re at crossed purposes at all. ISVs in FOSS tend to offer integration services on existing software, often using custom web or native apps to handle configuration. See eBox for en example. Creating an easier road for new developers strengthens this area. I’m not sure you’re going to get “partners” the way MS has them since Canonical is pretty much just a service company already, but Canonical can make it easier for others to sell integration services.

            Bruno,

            You caught my point exactly about “making opinionated choices.” (The quote is from Quickly) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Ubuntu creating the pages with a specific language, toolkit, IDE, and VCS in mind. I’d love to see it all set up OOTB via a special CD or meta-package, so that devs can get to work and publish. There are a million choices in Linux: those choices remain on Ubuntu. Looking at history, though, Ubuntu came out as a single-CD distro with one of each app at a time when multi-CD installs with five word processors and ten text editors was the norm, and Ubuntu was remarkably successful as a result. I don’t see why the same attitude can’t be taken with development in order to make the decisions easier for new devs.

          • Bruno Girin says:

            Daeng, I completely agree with you and I think that’s more or less what Jono Bacon has in mind with his opportunistic developers initiative. It’s just not there yet. But I think that if we all lend a hand, we can make it happen.

            Alan, sorry it looks like we’ve hijacked your blog post. The points you raised seem to have struck a chord :-)

          • Alan Bell says:

            @Bruno
            I wouldn’t say you have hijacked the blog post, I would say you have completely and utterly understood the point of it!
            The commercial partner community that I am interested in re-creating the spirit of is the original Lotus partner community before IBM acquired it. What I want is a situation where if you mapped out the partner relationships you would get a mesh, not a hub and spoke diagram.

          • Bruno Girin says:

            @Alan

            I’m with you 100%. But do we have to wait for Canonical to do anything about it? What about starting something like this within the UK LoCo team? It’s small enough that we should be able to make it work and that should give a good template to extend it later. On a related subject, I’ll be at the British Library on the 10th at a workshop on planning and developing your business so I’ll try to ask about the value of networks and how to go about making one work.

  • Ed Daniel says:

    @Bruno

    My idea, if you excuse me for harping on, is far from ‘having an area of the wiki’… it’s about a united effort across the entire opensource ecosystem to provide a superior commercial engagement model that rivals proprietary competitors in both capability and results.

    Sure, it can begin on a wiki and foundations and roadmaps can be laid out for discussion and cultivation though I’m thinking more along the lines of event driven architectures that allow the partner ecosystem to be both agile and responsive to client requirements – having heard and read plenty about how corporate IT is not sufficiently aligned to business goals it does not surprise me that we have a significant challenge and opportunity in front of us to help corporate IT deliver on the promise of being business-centric and providing reliable services and innovative solutions to support these businesses.

    Furthermore, the concept should be generic enough and prove to be best practice for open source solution providers that the co-opetitive principles and opportunities begin to emerge very quickly and clearly (co-branding, co-marketing, co-sponsoring, co-etc.); thus an open source business (whether that be open source project, open source VAR/ISV or even freelancer) benefits more from participating in the co-operative (this would eventually be a community of co-operatives just as the open source ecosystem is a community of software projects) than participating outside of this model because the value of unity is far greater and more effective than that of operating independently. How are we going to enable an effective and mature approach to co-bidding on massive projects? How are we going to identify the right partners who have the niche expertise at a rate our client can afford? How are we going to engage with potential clients and “look the part”. How do we evolve an equitable partner reputation model (some have an answer to this question already though I do not yet endorse its adoption in an open systems content, see http://www.alliantist.com for further thoughts in that direction). Many of us have plenty of experience and wisdom to share. Certainly among the biz-dev community that are opensaucing there are some real pros yet we need them to mentor the rest of the community and help polish up the business practices so open source business is excellent. I’m looking to people such as Matt to step up to that challenge as part of the process of aligning Canonical with it’s strategic goals. He should observe the success and challenges Jono Bacon faces as a community manager and bring on board someone to support existing sales/biz dev at Canonical and ideally with the aim of having a similar impact on the business partner “community” as Jono is having on the user / technical communities. It would be unfair and unrealistic to let Jono do it all though between Matt and Jono there’s a good chance they’ll find someone who fits that bill – and then, this is the key bit, this person/initiative needs to be replciated across the entire industry enabling us to loosely couple the business of open source (collaborative CRM)… and at this point we arrive at Alan’s mesh :-)

    @Alan
    That’s a fine example to share though it is isolated to one vendor and its community, if we can think OO for a second and look at your example as an “abstract class” that we would inherit and extend with event handlers that enable behaviour amongst instances of the new class in a multi-threaded real-time architecture (multi-vendor, multi-partner, multi-client) then I think we’d have a very powerful tool to “raise all the boats”. Networking / doing business is not new at all but the rules changed when we got the internet (for some of us it started when we got our modems in ’82 ;-) ). We need to take heed of that and look to create new games, not play out old ones, though that last comment in no way is directed at your suggestion re: mesh, it’s more a general statement about the state of software business today and I’m looking at how traditional go-to-market methods are being disrupted and where we can take advantage of those trends to improve open source success and create a sustainable and successful software industry that we can all benefit from.

    • Bruno Girin says:

      @Ed

      I didn’t realise I had reduced your idea to a wiki page in my comment, it wasn’t intentional. Anyway, I think we’re all in agreement but have different approaches. In the Ubuntu context, I would expect Matt to look at the strategy of such a mesh and how to expand it beyond Ubuntu, as you say. That doesn’t prevent us, as interested parties, to work together on local tactical solutions to start off the mesh.

      • Ed Daniel says:

        “That doesn’t prevent us, as interested parties, to work together on local tactical solutions to start off the mesh.”

        Absolutely Bruno, what one might consider a base-of-the-pyramid approach will probably garner more trust and credibility amongst the community than a top-down approach – idealist that I am I’d hope we could get both working at the same time to speed things up a bit ;-)

        As an aside, it amused me to see you’re French and based in London and I am English and based in Paris :-) Noting you like fractals, I love them as well, you might enjoy this link: http://www.martinlaprise.info/2010/02/11/visualize-your-own-github-graph/ but the reason I share it is twofold – #1 is because I think you’d like that kind of thing having just read your blog posts and #2 you might realise that this type of functionality does not yet exist for the business community in open source – there’s not yet sufficient transparency as they’re either locked up in a black book, Siebel, SalesForce, LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo or a.n.other walled garden but if the open source community can drawn them out of those places and into a collaborative ecosystem we might find we have the opportunity to improve our chance of fixing bug #1. The old adage of “content is king” has passed, for us “adoption is king” and it is in all our interests to ensure that our sales & marketing people have the best possible tools to make this happen – and as you say we should not wait for Canonical or RedHat to begin this process – we should share our tools and knowledge amongst each other and begin the empirical process of improvement through crowd-sourced wisdom that the internet allows us to achieve. I vow to do my bit towards this endeavour.

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