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Ubuntu business product marketing job

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Canonical is looking for a business product marketing manager to lead the marketing of our portfolio of enterprise products and technologies. The objective is to increase the profile, market penetration and user-base of Ubuntu’s business products such as Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure.

All technology companies face the problem that they think in terms of tech, but users think in terms of how a product benefits them in their specific situation. This often leads to a sales and marketing gap. In Canonical’s case Ubuntu is an operating system platform that’s used by a variety of consumer and enterprise audiences. Although our server and Cloud products are generally for enterprise users, there’s over-lap in the desktop area which is used by both. So the product marketing manager role will market Ubuntu products to businesses and organisations – whether global enterprises, academia or government.

Technology companies tend to subtly vary the way product marketing is defined, and particularly the line between product management and product marketing. As an aside there’s a nice article at Silicon Valley Product Group about this. In Canonical product managers are responsible for defining the strategic direction for a product and work closely with the engineers who are developing and delivering the technology. The product marketing managers are part of our marketing and communications department with the responsibility for defining and leading the marketing activities. By definition the two roles are closely related, but product marketing is inherently focused outwards communicating the benefits of the products to prospective users.

In order for Ubuntu to succeed in an enterprise the benefits must be clear to both the technologists (e.g. Sysadmin) who will implement it, and the management decision maker (e.g. CIO) who will sign-off its use. Consequently, our marketing activities speak to both audiences, though with more focus on technologists. On a day-to-day basis we’re a pragmatic organisation where everyone rolls their sleeves up and gets on with it. So you’ll need to use quantitative and qualitative approaches to identify addressable segments for marketing programmes. You’ll work with product management to create and polish propositions and with other members of the Comms team to form messaging. You’ll then put together marketing programmes that achieve the best ROI, iterating and improving how we reach the segment as necessary. In many instances you’ll want to take advantage of ways we can team-up with our passionate advocates to get the message out.

Canonical is a deep technology company so to be successful in this role you need to be excited about the technologies we’re developed and capable of understanding and communicating their advantages. You’ll understand how the Cloud is revolutionising enterprise IT and be able to clearly communicate where, why and how it’s impacting DevOps. Ubuntu is a key part of that equation so you’ll understand how our technologies, such as Juju, are part of that revolution. Importantly, you’ll act as a bridge to enterprise users, explaining the features and benefits of these products in the context of the challenges they face. You’ll need the capability to clearly explaining technologies, understanding the business problems they can solve for customers and undertaking marketing activities to communicate this.

The next year is full of challenges and opportunity. In April we’ll be launching 12.04 LTS which is a major enterprise release and the spring-board for our activities in the business segment over the next two years. We’re focused on expanding Ubuntu’s use in the public cloud where we are the most popular OS on platforms like Rackspace Cloud and Amazon Web Services. We believe that private and hybrid clouds will be an important part of the future for enterprises and we’re working with partners such as HP and VMWare to help them get the most from Ubuntu Cloud in their data centres. In other words it’s an important moment and we’re full steam ahead!

As an open source company our first challenge is to make sure our products are widely known and used in a playing field where proprietary vendors can outgun us in marketing spend. So the measure of success in this role is whether Ubuntu is increasing market penetration compared to the large proprietary cloud vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle. Having built-up an extensive user-base the product marketing manager also works with field marketing to convert users into customers for commercial services such as Ubuntu Advantage.

At a personal level Canonical is a dynamic organisation so you’ll need to be entrepreneurial, high-energy and collaborative – your colleagues are based around the globe ranging from offices in Taipei to being sat at home in California. I think the biggest reward will be to work with an amazing set of people at one of the most innovative technology companies around, during a time of massive industry change. If that sounds like heaven then get your application in ponto!

Written by Steve George

January 11, 2012 at 22:56

Develop Brighton 2011 thoughts

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Recently I attended the gaming conference Develop 2011 in Brighton. Digital entertainment (movies/music) is something Ubuntu users are excited and interested in. This means there’s an increasing opportunity for developers to create applications that those users want. So understanding the challenges, concerns and opportunities the gaming industry faces and how that might apply to Ubuntu was my focus during the conference.

Perhaps the most immediate thing that struck me is the burgeoning importance of online games. Nick Parker gave an interesting talk on funding development. The slide that stood out the most was one that showed ‘core gaming‘ (think PS3) has now peaked and that online (casual, MMOG, mobile and social) gaming is the real driver of growth for the industry. He pointed out you’re still talking about a core gaming market that’s hundreds of millions of dollars in size but nonetheless the traditional vendors haven’t yet grasped the online opportunity.

Generally, it’s difficult for new platforms to break through into games developers consciousness. At a basic level creating games is risky and expensive so develpoers target platforms with the maximum possible number of sales. To some degree online games offer a way out of this conundrum for alternative platforms: if the browser is treated as the platform then all operating systems have an equal chance. The devil is in the detail depending on the technologies used, Flash is fine from a Linux perspective, WebGL could be great but plugins (such as Unity browser plugin) are more of a problem. Perhaps the best talk I saw which combined these trends was done by Ikka Paananen who talked about the opportunities for immersive play within the browser. If you want to find out what he means try Supercells game Gunshine which works in a browser on Ubuntu just fine – in fact I lost a Sunday afternoon to it!

There also seems to be a lot of optimism about the opportunities for interesting games development: a lot of positive commentary around the opportunities around despite the wider economic conditions. A big part of this was around Indie development, with small teams able to create so much for a relatively small level of investment. A talk by Tony Pearce about raising cash for your game (supported by NESTA) illustrated this, not only was it a great talk but it was absolutely packed with developers.

Reinforcing the positive theme was a very motivating keynote given by Michael Acton Smith the CEO of Mind Candy, the company behind the super-hit Moshi Monsters. First, I’m embarassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of Mosh Monsters, it turns out that if you’re a parent then you know all about them – it’s that big! Of course, he was head-lining because it’s such a massive hit and with a suitably dramatic story where at one point they almost burned out. But, much of his talk’s insight could have been applied to any start-up or group creating new products. I heard two key things, one was that you you should explore the boundaries of your space with creativity, the other one he didn’t say directly but I was struck by how deeply he’d thought about the mechanisms and drivers that power his business. From a pure inspiration perspective the main sense was the essential energy the team brought to the journey as they explored (and continue to explore) creating something for their users. So there it is – explore creatively, think deeply and be energised!

Written by Steve George

August 15, 2011 at 20:12

iCloud and Ubuntu

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Apple finally announced iCloud, reinforcing that the Cloud is ready for consumers. It validates some of the things we’ve been doing in Ubuntu and encourages us to think about how the trend will impact free software in the future.Cringley focuses on Apple targeting Microsoft by making the desktop category just like a device and moving everyone onto the Internet. Steve Jobs is quoted as saying:

“We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device – just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud.”

I don’t know if this targets Microsoft, I do know that Apple has done as much as anyone to make the network a central part of our digital life.

It’s clear that we all spend more time online – if you stand-back you can see see our increased dependence on the Web (we spend more time on-line than watching TV), along with how central some web apps are becoming to our lives (from Facebook to Google calendar). You might question how quickly this is happening or how widely spread: there’s not much bandwidth in Africa, and I often find it surprising how poor connectivity is in rural areas. But, that’s just a question of timing – large numbers of users already think of their computers and the Web as being synonymous.

The Web itself is rapidly becoming the standard development platform and storage medium for applications. With HTML5 and its’ extended technologies we will see increasingly complex and capable web apps: this Financial Times HTML5 app is a nice example and tweaks Apple’s tail! Even if the interface of everything can’t be a Web front-end, then data storage is also moving in that direction: increasingly users think of their content as being ‘available’ everywhere – meaning online.

From a user perspective this means we all expect to access our favourite applications and our personal data at any point from a myriad of devices. The impact on Windows is that the field is being reset, both at a software and a hardware level. Microsoft is not a cherished consumer brand that everyone loves so they will have to start over. But, it equally impacts anyone that wants to create a general operating system – Ubuntu being my concern.

If everything is on the network, and the network provides many of the applications then there’s going to be a fundamental set of shifts in how the system stack supports the user. Among the many areas, two things stand out for me.

The first theme is that we need to provide ways for users to store and access their content online. We’ve seen Apple’s system, we’re bound to see systems from all the titans of the industry as well at a lot of start-ups. This could be fantastic for users, but there’s also potential for drawbacks if there’s no standardisation – we don’t want to go back to a world of locked in data.

But it’s deeper than data, users don’t think “I need my data” they think “I want my photos of Nancy the dog” which means we need to attach storage and applications together. That’s why in Ubuntu One we talk about the personal cloud and we’re providing both applications and API’s to build on top of basic data storage and sync. Any data storage (including Ubuntu One) also needs to be available across multiple platforms so that our users can access their content whenever they want or need it. Importantly, to make the Cloud the central storage location it needs to be fully integrated and seamlessly part of the users experience – going to the ‘Web folder’ is a fail!

The second theme is that the operating system will be a window onto the Web, and this changes what it needs to present to the user and the services it provides to applications. From a user perspective we need to integrate the Web so that there’s no difference between local and network applications. Moreover, some of the metaphors of the Web are impacting how users think about interacting with their computers, take search as an example.

For applications to be truly integrated it will mean that the system stack will need to provide services that web application developers can use. For example, rather than signing into a myriad of different web applications how can the system stack authenticate me to them seamlessly. Perhaps even the idea of local and web apps will need to disappear, if we can provide technologies that help web application developers create applications that work both locally and through the network.

A final thought, I said at the start that Apple has done as much as anyone to make the vision of a connected world real. But Unix and Linux has done even more – network computing is central to our technology, and distributed community is central to our ethos. For me this means Ubuntu has great strengths it can draw on as we create this future – Ubuntu can be the operating system for the rest of us in a connected world!

Written by Steve George

June 10, 2011 at 08:09

Darwinia and Uplink in Ubuntu Software Center

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We added two classic games, Darwinia and Uplink, to the Ubuntu Software Center this week. It’s been a great journey working with the Introversion team to bring this software to Ubuntu and it’s great to see this result!

Hacking game Uplink

I first spoke to Mark Morris, Introversion MD, last summer explaining the concepts around the Software Center and our intent to bring a wider range of applications to Ubuntu users. It was great to explore how this system would work for commercial developers and Mark gave us great perspective on the mechanics of software publishing in the gaming industry.

We used the Introversion example internally when we were working through many of the complexities of the commercial system. And I staid in touch with Mark keeping him up to date on our progress and reflecting on his commentary.

As an Indie developer Introversion has to focus on the future, particularly their current project Subversion. So it was by no means a given that they’d be willing to take on the additional attention cost and effort of a new publishing platform. Sowe were really happy when he agreed to publish Darwinia and Uplink through our platform. And they were fully committed as we worked through putting their software into Ubuntu Software Center.

Both Darwinia and Uplink are great titles that show the quality and range of commercial games and applications that are available for Ubuntu. I hope you support them by buying and enjoying them!

Written by Steve George

March 30, 2011 at 18:16

Posted in Canonical, Canonical-voices, Linux, Ubuntu

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UK innovation and Open Source

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Why wasn’t Google invented in the UK? Where are all the great British software start-ups? Why isn’t there more Open Source in the UK?

That last question may not have come up in the Chancellors budget speech, but it should have. This was my central argument to The Register this week –  to move from an economy whose value is “the loan was created in Britain”, to one where it’s “invented, designed and built in Britain” then we need to unleash innovation through Open Source.

You might think it a bit self-serving for me to be pushing Open Source as the answer to the UK’s ills. In fact, as I far too passionately made my points to Lucy Sherriff, it crossed my mind that I could fully conform to my own stereotype of “special pleading corporate PR” by next asking for special tax breaks and complaining about unspecified (but nonetheless burdensome) “red-tape”! Nonetheless, I believe that technology and Open Source have to be key elements in the rebalancing of the UK’s economy.

First, lets put back into the box the idea that the UK cannot do technology, and that we should just leave it to Silicon Valley. The funny thing is that when you pull up the covers on successful valley technology companies you’ll find plenty of Brits. That shouldn’t be a surprise, the education system in the UK is strong, we have a fantastic tradition in science and engineering, and the language/culture compatibility helps. Finally, it completely ignores the evidence of the technology companies we do have, from successful start-ups such as Last.fm through to majors like ARM.

Perhaps it’s that cultural contrarianism that makes us unable to dwell on the positive or accentuate the good. A national character of, you say “tomato”, I say “no, it’s a squashed, bruised, fruit that tastes anaemic and who knows the long-term effects of the pesticides”. So, lets not waste any more bits on this – the UK has great technology capabilities and we should celebrate them!

So why is Open Source an important element in creating an environment that can create success for our technologists and economy? Because, it’s a leveller and a remover of locked-in de-facto networks. Open source releases innovation and provides ways for companies of all sizes to compete, bringing greater competition and delivering more value to everyone.

First, government wants to encourage start-ups and small business. There’s lots of policy options, but a big (perhaps the biggest) lever is government procurement. Our tax money should be used to buy great value technology, provided by local companies if at all possible. Governments know this, but they’re often concerned that small suppliers will fail – it’s a real concern because it happens. Mandating that the technology be Open Source removes that concern. That way if the supplier fails it can be supported and maintained by an alternative supplier. And, in the long-run you create a competitive national set of technology companies that will be employing locally and providing services far more efficiently than a small number of multi-national conglomerates (yes, looking at you Oracle).

Second, Open Source enables a local (ie national) supplier ecosystem to be created. Fundamentally, if our technology companies just resell proprietary software that’s developed by the large multinationals they will lack the skills to innovate and create on their own. Open Source is customisable and enables the suppliers to develop the same skills that will be needed to create products. There’s no black-boxes in Open Source, so if someone spots an opportunity or a gap they can understand it and innovate from there.

Third, Open Source provides more flexible and capable systems for end-users. My biggest fear about proprietary software is that it destroys enquiry in our children and students – it’s a curiosity trap. How many of the stories about great inventors (whether software or not) start with them taking apart everything they could get their hands on, from clocks to cars. They had a spirit of enquiry, a curiosity to understand and then improve.

In this era Open Source is the biggest library of software on the planet. In any domain, sphere or software idea there’s an Open Source project and some of the most skilled developers on the planet out there working on it. And everyone can read, understand and enquire – how short a step is it for the imagination to be fed and the idea of improving to occur? It’s terrible to anaesthetise our children and students with the idea that they shouldn’t look under the hood or understand what’s happening. That’s exactly what proprietary software does. And we risk missing the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates because of it.

So really George (Osbourne in this case), stop throwing tax dollars at bribing multi-national banks to keep taking space in Canary Wharf. Unleash the UK into the forefront of the global technology revolution by adopting an industrial policy that develops technology as a key area, and for goodness sake make Open Source part of that mix. You know I’m right!

Written by Steve George

March 26, 2011 at 22:01

Ubuntu Developer Relations Advocate job

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To go with the Software Business Development role we also opened up an Ubuntu Developer Relations Advocate job as the two areas are closely related. Business Development is focused on working with developers at a business level, fundamentally creating a revenue-generating relationship.  Developer relations is focused on working with developers at a technical level, providing resources, assistance and community.  Both roles could be speaking to the same people in a small developer shop, but the focus of the conversation is different and we need both to help developers be successful.

Fundamentally, the objective of developer relations is to provide a focus for evangelising the platform and assisting developers as they develop software for Ubuntu. One thing to clarify is that the type of development we mean here is ‘developing applications that run on Ubuntu‘, with the desired outcome being that we increase the range of applications available to Ubuntu users. So this is different to a lot of our other community relations work which is aimed at contributors to Ubuntu. Another point is that our focus is on commercial software developers since we believe that it’s important to create a sustainable ecosystem around the platform: that doesn’t exclude FOSS since Open Source can be commercial – although being realistic I expect that most of the commercial software will be proprietary.

Developer relations is a mixed role, it’s partially to evangelise the platform and attract developers, and partially assisting developers by giving them resources and a community. I group the responsibilities into three areas – attracting, enabling and enthusing. By attracting we mean communicating and showing how great the Ubuntu platform is for developers. This covers the Ubuntu distribution but also developer enabled technologies such as Unity, UbuntuOne and distribution through the Software Center. To enable developers we need to provide resources they can use to develop on Ubuntu explaining the tools and technologies that are part of the platform and how to use them.  A key difference between Ubuntu and other platforms is that we aim to be participatory and transparent. So the most important element of ‘enabling’ is that we want to create a Developer Community: we’re focusing our attentions on developer.ubuntu.com which you can think of as the equivalent to IBM’s Developer Works or Apple’s Developer Center. This is a real connector role so a key part will be working with the wider world, and coordinating internal Canonical teams and exciting everyone so that we’re all working together to the common goal.

Finally, there’s lots of discussion whether Developer Relations should sit within an engineering department or within a marketing organisation, which depends on your objectives. In our case the focus is increasing the range of software that is available on Ubuntu which is a long-range business development strategy aimed at strengthening the platform, so we’ve chosen to put Developer Relations within that team so we can have the best connections. Either way at heart it’s a technical role that is all about communications by helping developers get the most from the platform – being their advocate.

We know the objective and the strategy, how to drive it forward is open territory that will need leadership, energy and tenacity. If you have experience in Developer Relations and some of the thoughts above chime with your own ideas then hop across to the Ubuntu site where you can read the job description and apply!

Written by Steve George

January 12, 2011 at 15:10

Ubuntu Software Business Development job

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Canonical is looking for a software business development consultant focusing on helping consumer third-party developers (ISV’s) and content providers bring their products to Ubuntu.  It deserves a bit of background and an explanation of why this is important for Ubuntu.

Let me start with a slight digression: I went skiing over the holidays but forgot my GPS, it was a bit annoying as I like to keep a record of where I’ve skied off-piste.  Luckily, I had my phone so I simply purchased, downloaded (Over-The-Air) and installed a GPS app.  If you stop for a second, this is a pretty amazing capability. Even a few years ago the idea of using my phone in this way wouldn’t have been in the realms of possibility – but increasingly every device we have is multi-functional and extended by third-party software capabilities. In fact, any platform that doesn’t have this flexibility is at a severe disadvantage.

If you’re a software device manufacturer or consumer operating system vendor it’s no longer sufficient to scope your capabilities to driving the hardware and providing the core experiences. Users expect their devices to be ubiquitous, connected and social which means that platforms need to be personal and flexible to their needs. So every consumer device OS needs to be a (for want of a better label) “software platform” that can be used to create those experiences along with an active developer ecosystem creating them. It’s this set of consumer expectations that drives Android and iPhone to put so much pressure on ‘apps’ and even in contexts like the desktop this is happening (ie Mac App Store).  But it doesn’t end there, applications are only half the story, content (whether created or consumed) is an integral part of the desired user experience.

To provide such a range of experiences is impossible for any single vendor, so the consumer platforms have responded by creating ecosystems of relationships that build the applications, media and content that users want. Both in terms of user needs and the distribution mechanisms that these software platform provide it’s a massive opportunity for software developers. It’s also an opportunity for media and online organisations that mediate and distribute content experiences, with all the challenges that this involves.

This is why as Ubuntu expands as a consumer platform we need to build the range of software and content experiences for our users.  Each month we ship on a larger range of devices (desktops, laptops and mobile devices), which reach a wider set of consumer users (both in experience and geography) so the overall needs of our users are broadening and deepening. Ubuntu users want the latest games (can anyone say Angry Birds), entertainment (e.g Boxee) and productivity applications.  The Ubuntu Software Center creates a system so that third-party developers can reach Ubuntu users, distribute their software and monetise through the Ubuntu playment platform.

As I said earlier, software and content are somewhat bound together from a user perspective: is Spotify software or content for example? So from an Ubuntu user perspective we also need to think about each media and content experience and work with partners to deliver those to them.  We’ve already done lots of work with UbuntuOne and music, but there’s all sorts of additional media experiences that need development.

So our long-term objective is to create a large ecosystem of third-party software applications for Ubuntu consumers which are distributed and sold through the platform. In addition, we are seeking to work with third-party content providers such as music, movie and e-book vendors to deliver the range of content that consumer users expect. I’m excited about this area for Ubuntu and for our partners so today we’ve created a new software business development role: if it’s something that excites you and you have the right experiences I’d encourage you to apply.

Written by Steve George

January 11, 2011 at 18:47


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