Canonical over the last four years or so has brought businesses a growing range of services and software tools to help them make better use of the Ubuntu platform. Many of these services, such as Landscape systems management and technical support, have proven valuable for companies that want to more easily manage and maintain Ubuntu in their business.

Rather than having to decide which tools or services are useful, we decided to make things simple by bringing together all the necessary tools and services into a single offering, Ubuntu Advantage.

Ubuntu Advantage has four service components:

* systems management

* enterprise technical support

* legal assurance

* access to knowledge base

At Canonical, we believe these are they key service areas that help enterprises make successful use of Ubuntu in their business. As new technology features and capabilities are incorporated into the Ubuntu platform, the Ubuntu Advantage service offering will also grow to support those new platform capabilities.

The systems management service category offers Canonical’s Landscape systems management and monitoring tool. Within any enterprise it is crucial for IT departments to have the necessary systems management tool to avoid having to spend copious amounts of time managing and maintaining systems with patches and security upgrades. Although, these tasks are vital for enterprise systems to remain safe, they can also be tedious and unnecessarily time consuming without the right tools. The package management and automation features of Landscape help to remove much of this manual work.

Ubuntu Advantage includes enterprise-level technical support for the desktop and server to give businesses direct backing from the source of Ubuntu, Canonical. This is a valuable service because businesses can deploy Ubuntu with a greater sense of security; should they run into any problems, they have the support from the organisation which released it.

Our aim is to provide comprehensive support, but we also want to give customers flexibility with the type of service they receive as we recognise that different machines will run different workloads and need different levels of support. On the server there are three options ranging from support for basic server workloads to the most complex setups:

* Essential Server – to cover common workloads such as file and print serving

* Standard Server – for more advanced business needs like server virtualisation and integration into existing Windows networks

* Advanced Server – to cover complex configurations such as high-availability and clustering

On the desktop there were two main usage types we want to cover, general business use and developer use:

* Standard Desktop – covers general end users using standard business applications such as email, office suites and web browsing

* Advanced Desktop – covers developers that have more complex desktop configurations, such as desktop virtualisation, and use advanced developer tools

A major aim of Ubuntu Advantage is to ease the adoption of Ubuntu by providing quick and easy access to a definitive answers. The online Knowledge Base gives customers a central repository from which they can quickly reference at any time definitive guides on how to resolve common issues or information about best practices deployments. Canonical’s support engineers create the content in the knowledge base keeping it accurate and up-to-date on the latest releases.

It’s also crucial that staff using Ubuntu feel comfortable with it, because the more confident they feel the more they can take advantage of Ubuntu’s many features and the fewer problems they will come across. So we also included training credits in Ubuntu Advantage. These can be redeemed to train end users on how to make the most of Ubuntu Desktop for their daily job, or they can be redeemed for system administrator training to help them more easily deploy and manage Ubuntu systems.

We know it is important for many organisations to have legal assurance to enable the adoption of an open source platform, which is why we have also included our legal assurance programme, Ubuntu Assurance, with all Ubuntu Advantage service options.

Ubuntu Advantage provides simplicity and an easier way for businesses to purchase the necessary tools and services to manage, support and use their Ubuntu platform more effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, it saves them precious time and money that can be spent elsewhere in their businesses. Initial reception has been very positive and we look forward to getting more feedback on the new services as users become familiar with them and hopefully see the value in them.

The Ubuntu Advantage website is live at: visit http://bit.ly/cOasJ3

Fern Ho, Ubuntu Advantage Product Manager

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