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Ubuntu planning move to the cloud

Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, next month will announce its entry into the cloud-computing marketplace.

Add Canonical to the roster of companies offering technology to help enterprise customers build their own cloud-computing setups. But unlike most of the better-known players in this nascent market, the twist here is that the technology will be supplied by an open-source shop.

Canonical is best known as being the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu operating system, a computer operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. With 8 million to 10 million users, Ubuntu has enjoyed success in no small part because of its ease of use.

Next month the company will offer the first details on plans to roll out cloud-computing services to its customers. At this point, details remain scarce but management isn't planning to reinvent the wheel. Instead, the company is going to adopt the same approach it used to promote Ubuntu as an open-source operating system.

The basic idea will be to supply the technology on an open source basis and then let users alter it to fit their individual company needs. At the same time, Canonical hopes to benefit from a developer feedback loop, which presumably would contribute any bug fixes or suggestions on how to advance the offerings. Any profits would roll in through the later sale of ancillary support and add-on services to customers.

This is just the latest announcement in what's fast becoming a crowded and super-hyped field. The umbrella terms refers to the concept of allowing access to computing power and storage space by connecting over the Internet. Most recently, Sun Microsystems last week offered details on a plan to enable developers, start-ups, and even students access a cloud-computing infrastructure.