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Red Hat questions Canonical's Ubuntu EC2 popularity claims

Nothing more than a packager
Mon Apr 02 2012, 13:05

LINUX VENDOR Red Hat has cast doubt on Canonical's claim that Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution on Amazon's EC2 service by saying it uses "selective" data.

Although Red Hat is widely recognised as the dominant enterprise Linux distribution, Canonical's claim suggests that Ubuntu is increasingly being deployed in the enterprise, taking a bite out of Red Hat's bread and butter market. However Scott Crenshaw, VP of Red Hat's Cloud Business Unit said the claim was based on "selective data released by Canonical".

Crenshaw answered a question put forward by The INQUIRER at a roundtable following a statement he made that Red Hat is the most popular Linux distribution on public clouds. He said Canonical's claim was based on "selective data that they have put out".

"When it comes to heavy lifting - building 'serious scale' clouds - spending hundreds of millions of dollars on proprietary software and making it open source, they [Canonical] are not anywhere in the same ballpark as Red Hat," said Crenshaw.

Later, Crenshaw justified his statement to The INQUIRER by adding, "When companies want an operating system platform they can rely on they come to Red Hat for a few reasons. The first is we've got first-class world wide support, the second is we actually write a lot of code unlike Canonical, so who better to fix or prevent problems."

Although Crenshaw's comments might sound like marketing fluff, it should be noted that Red Hat has consistently been one of the major contributors to the Linux kernel over the years. Also Crenshaw openly spoke of Red Hat being "perfectly comfortable" that the CentOS and Scientific Linux distributions repackage Red Hat Enterprise Linux and offer it for free.

Crenshaw continued to talk up the relative strengths of Red Hat as a solid enterprise vendor over Canonical by going after Canonical's business plan and its financial track record. Crenshaw said, "We're actually a company that has a strong balance sheet with a billion dollars cash in the bank. We are profitable and have a business model that is repeatable so we're not going to go away tomorrow. We don't have one owner [Mark Shuttleworth] who [is] sort of subsidising the company because it doesn't have a business model. I don't know too many enterprises who are willing to bet their business on a company that hasn't yet figured out how to keep itself operating for the long term, much less one that doesn't develop the software."

Crenshaw certainly didn't pull any punches when going after Canonical to undermine its claim of popularity over Red Hat in the Amazon EC2 public cloud. Canonical wouldn't comment directly on Crenshaw's statements but stood by its claims, pointing The INQUIRER to statistics collected by The Cloud Market that show Ubuntu as having the largest market share on Amazon EC2.

Canonical's problem in the enterprise market is its image of being a consumer oriented Linux distribution. Although the firm has worked extremely hard in the past two years to show it is a serious player in the enterprise with its support of Openstack, Red Hat's recent financials highlight the mountain Canonical has to climb if it is to become a big player in what is clearly a very lucrative market.

Crenshaw's claim that Canonical is essentially cherry picking what data to show is a damaging claim. The reason Canonical or any vendor would claim to be the most popular would be to capitalise on the assumption that popularity somehow implies quality. Of course if that were the case then Windows would be the highest quality operating system ever built. But joking aside, it is a statement that hits at the very heart of Canonical's claim to be taken seriously in a conservative market.

Crenshaw's parting shot was, "Of all the things that keep me awake at night, Canonical is not one of them." µ


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