Early next month, Canonical will officially release the Landscape suite, enabling IT managers to install, monitor, upgrade and manage servers and/or desktops with a single click. Adding users, fixing security problems and monitoring system performance are a few of the tasks that administrators can now perform centrally instead of on individual machines. Additional functions include auditing, inventory and organization.
Gerry Carr, Canonical's marketing manager, said Landscape is expected to make it much easier to integrate Ubuntu machines into organizations. "It's not good enough to have technology," Carr said. "Businesses need services to manage and run [machines]."
Following a brief trial in which the Landscape was offered for free, the new service will be incorporated into Canonical's support package. Landscape will compete with Red Hat Network and Novell Zenworks Suite.
Although Ubuntu is more widely used on desktops than on servers, Canonical expects the latter to equal its desktop community within four or five years, until Canonical is "at least a peer player" in that market, Carr said. The Landscape package manager creates an incentive for business users -- who can download the software for free -- to convert into paying support customers, he added.
Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at Red Monk, said that Landscape is a solid "lightweight, out-of-the-box" offering but not as fully functioning or complex as products from Red Hat, Novell and other larger vendors.
"It's not trying to be all things to all people," he said. "But it makes it easy to aggregate metrics of individual machines, uptime, processes and temperatures … and gives management the ability to use the data to make decisions."
Annual pricing for Landscape is $750 per server for support between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and $2,570 per server for 24/7support. For desktops, support is $250 per machine between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and $900 for 24/7 support.
In other news, the Ubuntu developer community expects to release version 8.04 in late April. The new version represents the fourth operating system for the server and the eighth for the desktop, Carr said.
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