Back in Linux's early days, Linuxcare emerged as the first important Linux support company. In 1998, the company made headlines not just in the technology press but in mainstream business publications like the Wall Street Journal as the company that would help businesses switch over to Linux. It was not to last. Poor top management decisions led Linuxcare to lose first its way, and, then, years later, to quietly vanish. Now, one of its founders, Arthur F. Tyde III, has brought Linuxcare back from the grave and made it ready for the 21st century.
As Tyde told me, "A few years ago I bought the assets of Linuxcare; it seemed like a shame to let the Linuxcare vision rot away in some file cabinet in the dungeons beneath Silicon Valley Bank. At the time it was more the sentimental move of an ex-founder then anything else. Some good friends of mine however (a few even with the original LC crew) wanted to take a run at restarting it as a service, not support play." So it is that Linuxcare has been reborn.
This time around, instead of offering general-purpose Linux and open-source software support, Linuxcare is all about providing affordable services for companies migrating to open-source cloud computing. The business plan is that since the advantage of the cloud is the ability to buy just enough computing resources for your needs, and expand or shrink those resources as needed. Linuxcare is offering technical services with the same model: Businesses will buy only the service they need as they need them.
So, for example, while Linuxcare offers the usual kind of Technical Services: 24x7 email, Web, and telephone based "in the cloud" operations/administrative services for all major Linux operating systems and Open Source applications" and a lab to either build or help you build open-source cloud applications, they also offer affordable alternatives. For instance, you can hire Linuxcare to help you with a single incident, or contract with them for management or technical support on a weekly basis. Or, if you have a special need for high end development skills or longer term engagements with reserved resources, you can arrange for Linuxcare Staff Augmentation. With the last, you essentially hire Linux, open-source, and cloud-savvy engineers and administrators for as long as it takes to get your job done.
In a statement, Dr. Scott S. Elliott, Linuxcare CEO, explained that since "Many companies are moving their IT to Cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services in order to reduce expenses for capital equipment, buildings, utilities, and supporting manpower." We have built Linuxcare in the Cloud to provide scalable services such as helping clients set-up, configure and debug their open-source applications, including Linux, Joomla, SugarCRM, and many others."
Linuxcare is also providing a simple Web interface for customers to easily order blocks of time for general or specific services like configuring or maintaining applications/servers, or providing storage, security, or other tasks. "Linuxcare was the gold standard in Linux support, training, professional services and certification - in the Cloud Computing space, we believe Linuxcare can assert itself as the number one provider of 'Administrators in the Cloud'" said Tyde.
I think he's right. Linuxcare, which at one time supported Linux at companies like IBM, Dell, HP, and Sun, was always a good company. Its fatal flaw, back in the day, was that it has hired some poor managers who didn't get open source at all and spent money like water pursuing an IPO that never happened.
Now, as Tyde said, "This time however, I think we have it right. No big promises--just good service." With executives in charge who get open source, and a focus on delivering ad hoc corporate support for open-source, cloud computing projects, this time Linuxcare is indeed going to deliver.