linux-managed-services-cloudAt first glance, emerging software companies like Level Platforms and Canonical have little in common. The former develops managed services software; the latter promotes the Ubuntu Linux distribution. But take a closer look and you'll find Level Platforms and Canonical heading in somewhat similar cloud directions.

As you may recall, Level Platforms last week announced a Managed Cloud Services strategy, which allows MSPs to manage the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Productivity Suite (BPOS, which includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and other hosted applications).

Fast forward to this week, and the Linux industry is making similar cloud moves. Canonical, for one, has introduced Landscape 1.3 -- a fledgling managed services platform of sorts for the fast-growing Ubuntu Server Edition operating system.

If you're not familiar with Canonical and Ubuntu, I suspect that will change over the next year or two. On April 1, 2009 I mentioned that some Autotask users have already embraced Ubuntu for their data centers. In some cases, Canonical's Ubuntu offering is emerging as a rival to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell SUSE Linux and other Linux distributions. (And yes, we cover Ubuntu extensively on our sister site, WorksWithU.)

Potential MSP Connection

So where do Canonical, Ubuntu and Landscape potentially fit into the managed services picture? Canonical pitches Landscape primarily for corporate IT managers that want to manage virtual or physical Ubuntu servers. The remote management efforts can involve in-house servers or Ubuntu systems living in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

And just like Software as a Service (SaaS) and many managed services pricing models, Canonical offers Landscape on a monthly subscription model (about $150 per managed device, with volume discounts available). Landscape is also free to organizations that pay for Ubuntu support.

I'm not suggesting that Canonical has a fully baked managed services strategy in place. Among the key limitations: Landscape aspires to manage Ubuntu networks, and Canonical isn't professing any plans to manage non-Ubuntu systems.

Still, there are similarities between the open source world and the more traditional closed source managed services market. Both are marching toward managed cloud services. Canonical and Level Platforms are proof of that.

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