Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, made some negative comments about his competitors’ licensing fees during his speech at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver in May. People in the audience were looking at each other with raised eyebrows, and a few people even laughed out loud at the audacity. Still, Shuttleworth was invited to keynote the OpenStack Summit in Berlin this week. But this time, he says he was asked “not to name names.”
Shuttleworth said for his keynote this week he planned to continue the discussion about the long-term operability of OpenStack and the economics of operating it. “We’re very conscious that organizations will only do private cloud if it makes common sense,” he said. “And they can also work in public cloud. We’re very focused on deploying the cloud cost effectively.”
But perhaps more interesting for Canonical right now is the question: How will IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat affect Canonical?
“I get stopped and asked about the IBM thing about every five paces at the show,” said Shuttleworth, who spoke to SDxCentral via phone.
As a little background, Canonical’s Ubuntu is a Linux operating system. “If you count all the VMs on all the clouds there are more Ubuntu VMs than all the other versions of Linux put together,” claims Shuttleworth. “When OpenStack came along that presented an opportunity for us to move into the enterprise data center because of our strength in public cloud. People associate us with cloud.”
In terms of enterprise data centers, Canonical’s competitors include Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Oracle. Shuttleworth said many enterprises had settled on one of the Linux operating systems and didn’t want another one. But he’s seen a trend in the last couple of years where some enterprises have wanted a second Linux, and that’s opened an opportunity for Canonical.
Implications of IBM With Red Hat
“This IBM acquisition has pushed those conversations more generally about Linux in the building,” Shuttleworth said. It’s certainly causing people to rethink how they want to be tied to a single vendor that is IBM.”
Red Hat will bring IBM its enterprise private cloud customers. And those customers will be able to also work with IBM’s public cloud if they choose. But it’s possible those customers won’t want to put all their eggs in one basket. It might open up more opportunity for Canonical with enterprises.
However, there could be a downside to Canonical in that it also does business with IBM. “IBM’s Kubernetes is on Ubuntu,” said Shuttleworth. “The bulk of IBM’s workloads on the IBM Cloud are on Ubuntu. We have numerous lines of work with IBM.”
So the IBM-Red Hat deal could provide more opportunity for Canonical in the data center. But there’s a threat that Canonical might lose business with IBM in the public cloud.
“We haven’t seen the full impact on our relationship with IBM,” said Shuttleworth. “IBM is still saying they want to work with us. But you know how it is.”