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Canonical realigns to better serve our customers

Jane Silber

on 21 October 2011

Canonical has grown dramatically over the last several years. This growth is driven by increasing demand for our services and products by end users, businesses and partners, and by investment to deliver our part of the future of free software.  As Ubuntu’s position in the marketplace and as the leading free software platform has matured, we have needed change the way we align our teams internally.  The purpose of these changes is to ensure greater efficiency for us, for the customers we serve and for the partners with whom we go to market.

Historically we have had three business units geared to match the customers and established ecosystems which Canonical, as a start up, needed to penetrate: enterprises who want services in support of Ubuntu deployments (Corporate Services), industry players who want to deploy and distribute Ubuntu on their machines (OEM Services), and end users who want web-based content and services on top of the free platform (Online Services).

However, as the number and size of enterprise deployments and service contracts increases, there are often significant hardware purchases involved and our solid partnerships with most of the OEM industry provide value to the customer.  Similarly, our OEM partners and their corporate sales teams often introduce Ubuntu and Canonical to their customers. And of course at times OEMs are also our corporate customers, as the recent announcement of the HP Cloud based on Ubuntu demonstrates. Given these circumstances, our internal separation of sales and delivery of services to OEM and Corporate users began to make less sense.

Therefore in order to better meet our customers’ and partners’ needs, we have brought together the sales and sales support teams of OEM and Corporate Services into a single Sales and Business Development team led by Chris Kenyon. Chris has been with the company for five years and has led many of our largest sales, as well as guiding our most significant partnerships.

To support our partners and customers, we have created a single Professional and Engineering Services team led by Jon Melamut. Jon has been with the company for four years, working with our largest OEM partners and spending a lot of time in Asia strengthening those relationships. The synergy that can be harnessed through the shared learning and execution within these support and engineering teams will make Canonical more efficient and adroit in resolving the knotty issues our partners and customers face from the desktop to the cloud.

Steve George has added Product Management to his portfolio and now leads our Communications and Product Management teams. This will enable us to define and tell more powerful and compelling stories around our great products.  And we’ve consolidated the Ubuntu Software Center work into our Online Services group under Cristian Parrino’s leadership.  Previously the Software Center was built and operated by a virtual team across the company, but we believe that the consolidated team will be able to respond more effectively to the extraordinary growth and interest in this outlet for application developers has generated.

I’ve highlighted above some of the changes in Canonical, but what hasn’t changed is equally significant.

Mark Shuttleworth continues to lead overall Product Strategy. He has an able team of designers, engineers and project managers who lead Canonical’s investment in improving the state of design in open source as well delivering some of Ubuntu’s groundbreaking work in user experience. Mark’s industry and technical vision, from client to cloud, resonates throughout Canonical.

Elliot Murphy leads our Core DevOps (CDO) team. Some of the real magic of Canonical and Ubuntu takes place behind the scenes in CDO. For example, this team runs our internal cloud. Everyone at Canonical has unlimited access to our cloud for whatever purpose they want – this spawns incredible nuggets of innovation, as well helps us understand issues our own cloud customers will face.  In addition to creating developer tools like Launchpad and Bazaar, the CDO team provides the infrastructure that delivers Ubuntu to millions around the world. In our release last week, that infrastructure withstood overwhelming demand. The Ubuntu website served over 3,000 requests per second, and the Ubuntu repositories fed tens of Gb of bandwidth from Canonical’s data centres, over 200 mirrors around the world and a commercial CDN.

And of course all of the above is built on the rock that is Ubuntu.  Rick Spencer continues to lead the Ubuntu Engineering team. Because the Ubuntu work is done in an open, transparent manner, his team is probably the best known part of Canonical.  They will all be at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (Orlando, 31 Oct – 5 Nov) as we publicly discuss plans for the next Ubuntu release.  There will be sessions on technical requirements, design and implementation plans for Ubuntu on the desktop, server and cloud. As always, your participation and input is welcome.

Finally, Steve Bianchi joined earlier this year to lead our internal operations such as Finance, Legal, People and Culture.  He joined Canonical from Unilever, and brings a strong technical background as well as years of experience in organisational effectiveness.

As an organisation we are prepared for the near- and long-term challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us.  I am confident that Canonical brings real and immediate benefit to those who choose to work with us, and that with these changes we will be even more responsive to their needs, and able to deliver the value of free software and the Ubuntu platform to more individuals, businesses and governments than ever.

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