Posts Tagged ‘Canonical’
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
The new release of Landscape in time for the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release attracted some nice articles in the Linux press. The majority of the features this time around are designed to help enterprise Ubuntu users who are managing a large number of systems. If you have hundreds of servers in your enterprise then you need to be able to see the “Landscape of your deployment” and react to issues quickly. There’s more detail on the main features in my previous Landscape post.
First up is Sean Michael Kerner at Linux Planet who did a nice write-up titled Canonical Landscape 1.5 Extends Ubuntu Linux Management for Enterprises on the release. He pays particular attention to the enterprise authentication and the LTS upgrades with a nice quote from Ken Drachnik:
“We find that most enterprises are using LTS’s, so as part of this release, we wanted to have the automated ability to just click a button and say ‘Yes, upgrade me’ and then Landscape would automatically download the packages and do the upgrade”
Over at The Register, Timothy Prickett Morgan focuses talks about the Cloud aspects of the new release in his article Canonical updates Landscape manager. With UEC a key part of our server product and the work we’re doing on Amazon EC2 there’s lots of interesting things that Landscape can do to help users manage Ubuntu in these environments.
Finally, Joe Panettieri at WorksWithU discusses Landscape 1.5: The Implications for Ubuntu Customers and Partners where he summarises the key elements of the release and considers how the Amazon EC2 management might be of interest to partners. He specifically asks for examples of how Landscape is being successful with corporate customers. And as if by magic we can point him at this case study by PlusServer AG which we just put up, and it’s definitely worth a read!
We released a new version of Landscape our management service for Ubuntu last week. There’s a slew of new features including server templates, simple upgrades and enterprise authentication support. Whether you’re managing a few systems or as many as Google the new features make system administration simpler!
Landscape’s objective is to make managing and monitoring hundreds of Ubuntu systems as easy as looking after one. Whether you’re managing some Ubuntu desktops, or looking after a Web server farm Landscape lowers the complexity of administering those systems: no-one wants to apply patches to hundreds of machines manually! For IT managers this means that Landscape makes system administrators more effective and efficient. Landscape also ensures that deployed Ubuntu systems are secure with maintenance patches and upgrades.
Landscape is provided as a software service so every six months Canonical releases a new version that is available to all subscribers. There’s also an on-site version available to customers that have security policies or regulations that prevent them using a SaaS management platform. In line with Ubuntu 10.04 the main features of the new version are:
Many sites have sets of servers that do similar jobs, for example “web serving“. Ideally you want those machines to have the same set-up reducing management overhead.
The ability to create templates of the packages installed on a particular system and then apply those to different machines makes it easy to replicate a standard install. It also ensures that you maintain consistent profiles across your systems as time goes by. Finally, if you need to re-provision or expand resources you can use profiles to ensure it’s a repeatable process. Package Profiles is really great for managing configurations.
If you’re managing more that a handful of Ubuntu systems then doing upgrades is going to take a lot of time. Whether that’s every six months in time with the standard releases, or every two years for the LTS releases, it’s a significant commitment. To reduce that overhead you can now do upgrades between releases using Landscape.
Upgrades between releases are always complex so this doesn’t remove the need for backups and careful attention. Nonetheless, if you’ve used Package Profiles, it will be easier to test an upgrade on a test system and then when you’re happy apply it to all the deployed systems using the same package profile. Rather than having to access every machine and do the process by hand you can upgrade a group at a time.
Enterprises commonly have a corporate standard for authentication such as LDAP or on a Microsoft Windows network Active Directory. The new version of LDS connects to these systems authenticating administrators from the existing authentication system. This ensures that customers can simplify their authentication set-up and enforce authorisation from a single corporate directory.
What software will Canonical provide support for? That’s probably one of the questions you were asking if you read my previous post about commercial service subscriptions and bug resolution. Or perhaps not, but it’s a rhetorical device that suits me for this post!
Generally speaking for an application to be supported as part of a service subscription it has to be within the Main repository. This is because applications within the Main repository receive public maintenance (bug fixes and security updates) for the life-cycle of the release.
In order for an application to move into Main it goes through a stringent security and quality assurance assessment. As part of this review Canonical’s engineers inspect the code and ensure that they are able to maintain it. Consequently, those engineers also provide bug-fixes and maintenance for Canonical customers.
I find it interesting that generally the ability to maintain and fix code is one type of developer skill-set, while writing new features is a different one. Colin Watson recently told me that an early manager had told him that there are two types of developers in the world, those that create things and those that finish them off. Intuitively that feels right to me and by definition a distribution is focused on the latter where integration, polish and quality assurance rule.
The second issue is how do you know which software is covered within the Ubuntu service that you subscribed to? Some Linux distributions deal with this by covering all the software that they physically ship to customers. However, in Ubuntu’s case most users receive the software electronically so this doesn’t work. Second, the Main archive and seeds are relatively fixed and don’t map well to a subscription service for a particular target market. Essentially this means it’s hard to reflect the services within the technology.
Consequently, when a customer purchases a particular service subscription they receive a Service Description. This describes the scope of support, the bug-fixing coverage, the legal indemnification, the software components covered and the response levels. For example, a consumer desktop service wouldn’t cover complex integration problems with a Microsoft Windows network, while this would be critical for a corporate subscription designed for customers with legacy networks. Effectively, the description tries to describe the types of use-cases and categories that are covered.
I hope this has given a bit of insight into how Canonical does support and bug-fixes for our customers.