Ubuntu distribution publisher Canonical sees HPE strategy as further growing their relationship

HPE’s emphasis on AI going forward was good news for Canonical, which is already strong in the area.

Regis Paquette, SVP Global Alliances, Channels & Industry Verticals at Canonical

LAS VEGAS – Canonical, publisher of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, was here at HPE Discover this week as a sponsor of the event. HPE has been a more recent Canonical partner than some of its competitors, but the two companies have been making up for large time, and are working to further grow the relationship.

“We have been here at Discover the last couple of years,” said Regis Paquette, SVP Global Alliances, Channels & Industry Verticals at Canonical. “We started our relationship with HPE later than our relationship with Dell, but we put a certification program in place which is good enough for them to go with that and which can certify any server with us. As a result, we have evolved from being a Tier 2 OS with HPE, and are now a Tier 1 OS with them.”

The HPE relationship evolved after the two companies became jointly involved in winning some very large transactions.

“With HPE we had some very big deals, in particular winning a massive government deal in India with HPE,” Paquette indicated.

“We started in the technology partner program, and put some architectures together with them,” he said. “We also built a global resell agreement with them through which HPE resells us. In particular, we have built up a lot of traction in APAC with them, which has not been the case with our other partners. That market is more sensitive to price, and more inclined to be disrupters with open source. We also don’t bring friction to HPE’s good relationship with Red Hat and SUSE.”

Paquette said that the HPE relationship can still be extended further.

“The Indian deal was well known by HPE sellers, but we need an endorsement of a business unit to SKUs,” he indicated. “There is a global reseller agreement but it is a two stage process. Time is needed, and you need to bring a business case. Once we have that second stage, HPE resellers and customers no longer need to go through an infrastructure company. They can get it from Canonical with a single SKU.

Canonical only has two SKUs, one for infrastructure, and one for applications, which is new. Real-time Ubuntu was introduced earlier this year, and is a specialized version of its operating system designed for time-sensitive applications in latency-sensitive use cases. These would include the automotive, aerospace, industrial, public sector, retail and telecommunications sectors.

HPE’s heavy emphasis on AI at Discover was welcome news for Canonical

“When Generative AI came out, it was on us, because we are advanced,” Paquette said. “It’s why we are getting so much attention.  NVIDIA moved their AI stack from VMware to Ubuntu, giving us the credibility of us being adopted by NVIDIA. We are also at the back end of Tanzu.  Ubuntu Pro is integrated with all of the hyperscalers, and in the consoles, not just in the marketplaces.”

Paquette indicated that Canonical is also continuing to see channel growth.

“I see lots of growth on the partner side – including channels,” he said. “All these African and Saudi deals, you need to sell through partners. We just hired a global leader for that, and are really scaling that business. We have increased our channel business more than 120% since last year, and a higher percentage of that is partner-led, where the business was brought to us by the partner.  We are a smaller player in that arena but we do things differently than our large competitors. They are more rigid. You have to buy their whole solution even if you just need a fraction of what they do.”

Paquette noted they are having considerable success running local events with partners.

“We spend two hours on our value proposition, they get pumped, and we see a change in the relationship,” he said.