Ubuntu One: Canonical's Cloud - InformationWeek

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Cloud // Cloud Storage
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5/18/2009
02:15 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Ubuntu One: Canonical's Cloud

Canonical calls it "Ubuntu One". The goal is, according to Stefano Forenza, to build a full-blown online platform -- Canonical's version of Windows Live, or MobileMe / .Mac / iTools. But can they do it without having their intended userbase siphoned away?

Canonical calls it "Ubuntu One". The goal is, according to Stefano Forenza, to build a full-blown online platform -- Canonical's version of Windows Live, or MobileMe / .Mac / iTools. But can they do it without having their intended userbase siphoned away?

A detailed discussion of it is scheduled at OSCON, and the blurb there is quite telling:

Ubuntu One provides shared synchronised storage and databases for developers: you store your data and Ubuntu One takes care of making it available to every other person and every other machine you've shared it to. In addition to this set of simple APIs which you can use to get synchronised data, Ubuntu One also offers services built on top of these: work with your users' contacts to make it easy to share information with other people, and build services on top of all these APIs which work everywhere, both from the web and from the desktop.

This to me is a broad hint as to how Canonical plans to monetize Ubuntu: not just by selling support for it, but selling services -- end-user services that people actually use and want to pay for because they already do. If people are going to take their computing to go, and you want them to use your platform for same, best to give them both the local and remote ends of the deal. Give them both something to plug into, and something to plug in with.

Good idea. Here's what's worth worrying about, though: The development of the project is entirely internal, although the client software is GPLv3- / CC-licensed. So if the APIs and client software are all open, who's to say that they won't be ported to other platforms, thereby defeating the whole purpose?

Historically, that's what's happened with anything free/open. Random example: far more people run OpenOffice on Windows than they do on Linux (in fact, it's developed on Windows to begin with). Unless Canonical is willing to admit that they may ultimately be building a platform that is OS-agnostic, and are willing to live gracefully with that, it won't be worth the trouble.


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