Linux is great — if you know what you're doing. If you don't, Linux, like any operating system, can be a pain. Enter Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux. On June 7th, Canonical will start offering new Ubuntu Server and Ubuntu Desktop "Ubuntu Advantage" business support services.
Ubuntu Advantage will offer more than just technical support. Canonical has long offered excellent business and individual technical support. Ubuntu Advantage is different by including systems management tools, access to online resources, training and legal assurance. According to a company representative, "It is built to help businesses who have deployed Ubuntu as a desktop and/or server solution to become more successful in their adoption of the platform. The new subscription package gives organizations a single service to underwrite their investment in Ubuntu and is split into different service levels to cater to the different uses of Ubuntu in business."
What if your company's in-house counsel has questions about a Linux's intellectual property issue? No problem. Ubuntu Advantage Assurance will "take care of intellectual property (IP) infringement legal claims brought against customers in their use of Ubuntu." Further, "Canonical will provide legal compensation for any claim brought against you worldwide so you can deploy Ubuntu without complicated legal concerns." Take that, Microsoft, with your endless, bogus Linux patent threats.
The program includes technical management help as well. Ubuntu's systems management and monitoring tool, Landscape, can be used to manage multiple machines -- including physical, virtualized and even cloud platforms. Landscape, which is similar to Red Hat's Red Hat Network, can be used to automate repeated tasks, provide consistency and eliminate errors so that IT staff can spend time on more business-critical activities.
In a statement, Guido Nickels, Head of System Administration at PlusServer AG, a major German Web server company, said, "Landscape saves us many hours a week that we can now spend optimizing our existing services and developing new offerings for our brand servers to increase our competitive advantage." I've used Landscape myself, and it is quite useful.
For pure Ubuntu technical support, what you'll get under Ubuntu Advantage, according to Canonical, is "the highest level of backing from Canonical. Our key service features include:"
Direct access -- Speak directly to a support engineer with first-hand knowledge of how best to resolve your issue or log your support query online, giving you the flexibility to report queries in the most efficient manner for your business.
Real-time tracking -- Track your issues online in real time through the online support portal. The support portal also allows you to add comments or attach more information at any time so you don't waste time explaining issues.
Availability -- Call the GSS (Global Support and Services) team during your local business hours or have the security of receiving 24/7 phone access for your mission critical servers
Unlimited cases -- Submit any number of support requests.
Multi-vendor support -- Save time co-coordinating support for multiple vendors. We can take care of your issues through the Technical Support Alliance Network (TSANet).
As you can tell from that list, we're talking high-end, enterprise-level support here. Surprisingly, for what you get, it's not that expensive. The minimum Ubuntu Advantage server price, which includes the legal support option, starts at $320/year per server. The whole package starts at $1,200, but if you want a dedicated engineer to call your own or support for a private Ubuntu cloud, you'll need to talk to Canonical about the final pricing.
There are two Ubuntu Advantage desktop support options. The first, which is for ordinary users, will run you $105 per desktop. The other option, which is for developers, costs $165.
In a statement, Neil Levine, vice president of Corporate Services at Canonical, said, "It has become clear as the use of Ubuntu in the enterprise increases, that businesses are now using Ubuntu in more areas of business than before, including as a cloud platform. Ubuntu Advantage provides the set of services that companies need to make Ubuntu a core part of their IT strategy. Flexible pricing and a choice of service levels means any business can realize what our customers already experience - that to optimize your Ubuntu deployment, engaging with the appropriate Canonical service is the easiest and fastest route to success."
I have to agree with Levine. From a business viewpoint, these are very attractive and comprehensive support options. If you're serious about using Ubuntu in your business, you should seriously consider Ubuntu Advantage.