Lookout, Microsoft. Move over Red Hat. Ubuntu is preparing a small business server and related support tools that could allow entrepreneurs to standardize their networks on the operating system. Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth dropped a few hints about the small business server during his keynote speech at Ubuntu LIVE today in Portland, Oregon.
Although Shuttleworth didn’t announce when the small business server would ship, he hinted that Canonical’s server push would accelerate over the next 12 months.
You know I’m an Ubuntu desktop user. But I see several key challenges facing Ubuntu on the small business server.
- First, small business owners are Windows loyalists. They may not like Windows in all cases, but they know it. Most mainstream users have never heard of Ubuntu.
- Second, most VARs and integrators focus on Windows Small Business Server. Canonical will need to work overtime to get solutions providers to support Ubuntu. To Canonical’s credit, the company is starting to attract interest from integrators.
- Third, Canonical will need mainstream server companies — Dell, HP, IBM — to get behind the small business effort. I’ll be sure to check with those companies to see if they have an interest in Ubuntu for small business servers.
Despite these challenges, I bet Ubuntu can make the leap from niche desktops to small business servers. But I wonder what that means for companies like Xandros and Collax — both of which promote Linux to small businesses.