Is the Ubuntu Edge a good fit for the enterprise?

Canonical's head of engineering makes business and tech cases as to why a CXO should consider spending $80,000 on 100 unproven Ubuntu-Android 'superphones'

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Could you speak to scenarios in which enterprise organizations would benefit from fully replacing certain (or all) users' PCs and smartphones with this device?
Some really interesting scenarios are highly mobile workforces, especially if bundled with a portable dock or monitor. Also, what we call roaming workers, like me for example. People who split their time between two or more workstations. I work from the office and home, but you can imagine also a consultant that spends large periods of time between different offices. These types of employees can become a security risk as they commute often and are more likely to misplace their laptop. The Ubuntu Edge desktop environment can be fully encrypted and wiped remotely using standard MDM solutions.

Finally, there are other users who move around a workspace, like doctors visiting multiple wards, for whom carrying a laptop is not very convenient, but they might have access to shared docking stations.

Is this a suitable PC replacement for employees who rely on graphic- or memory-intensive applications?
There will always be specialized use cases that a workstation or a high-end i7 laptop is better for than Ubuntu Edge. However, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space, this is getting really close.

Is the Ubuntu Edge a good fit for the enterprise?
Speaking of applications: How is a company that relies on mission-critical apps for, say, Windows and iOS going to be able to cleanly migrate users to the Edge? I think nowadays most iOS apps are available also for Android. The beauty of Edge truly is the ability to get a full desktop experience on a mobile device. Desktop Ubuntu has had integrated Windows VDI support since our 12.10 release, and we partner with leading VDI vendors to ensure their clients shine. So for legacy Windows apps, Ubuntu Edge will be a more secure, more manageable, and more portable Windows client than your standard Windows XP laptop.

I think nowadays most iOS apps are available also for Android. The beauty of Edge truly is the ability to get a full desktop experience on a mobile device. Desktop Ubuntu has had integrated Windows VDI support since our 12.10 release, and we partner with leading VDI vendors to ensure their clients shine. So for legacy Windows apps, Ubuntu Edge will be a more secure, more manageable, and more portable Windows client than your standard Windows XP laptop.

Windows PC applications can still be accessed from Ubuntu Edge using a Remote Desktop solution. The Windows application runs on a server, the user connect to it using her credentials, and the application output is streamed directly to the phone. To the user, it looks like the application is running within the Ubuntu Desktop.

Tech analyst Matt Asay posed the question on ReadWrite as to whether the developer community will buy into the Edge concept, which is critical if it's going to gain any traction. He suggested that the Edge's fate is tied mostly to the Android developer community because Ubuntu just hasn't penetrated the desktop market.

To paraphase Asay:

The Ubuntu Edge taps into the Android ecosystem as well as the existing Ubuntu desktop ecosystem. But I suspect most people, most of the time, are only going to care about the Android environment. Canonical has long had less than 1 percent of the desktop market, and now that market is in free fall. The Ubuntu ecosystem, in other words, may not matter. So the real question is, will Canonical's 'Ubuntu for Android with some level of file-sharing,' as [Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth] describes it, be able to piggyback on the broader Android ecosystem?

How do you respond to that?
Accessing the Android developer community is a good question. Ubuntu is the preferred choice of work environment for Android users. From that point of view, what's better than being able to code and test your applications on the same device?

For years now, companies have tried to come up with viable PC replacements, such as traditional thin clients, Internet devices (such as the Chromebook), tablets, and dockable portable mobile devices like the Motorola Xoom. What does the Ubuntu Edge have that these other form factors don't?
Thin clients lack mobility, Internet devices lack offline work support, tablets lack the productivity of a keyboard, dockable phones historically lack an operating system geared to be used as a desktop. Ubuntu Edge builds on the strengths of all of these with none of the limitations. It is mobile, it can stream Windows apps, can work online and offline, and gives you a great user experience both as a phone and as a desktop.

In that vein, what stars have aligned that the time to bring this sort of device to market is 2014 instead of a couple of years ago? I am thinking of factors like advances in mobile hardware technology, Wi-Fi, virtualization, the cloud, and the maturity of open source.
Key areas for me are low latency and high bandwidth of LTE, wide support of virtualization providers for Linux, large adoption of Linux by hardware providers, and low power CPUs that can even become servers.

Why go via Indiegogo, especially if you're looking to woo enterprise companies? It is an arguably unorthodox approach to acquiring funding -- especially if you're looking for $32 million.
We are continuing to work with Tier 1 manufacturers to bring Ubuntu-based convergence devices to the market. However, we felt that the industry has stagnated in innovation around hardware designs. We thought that crowdsourcing would be a great platform to test drive some of the most cutting-edge technologies.

What sort of feedback have you gotten from enterprise customers? Are you at all concerned that no one has pledged for the Enterprise Bundle?
We have very good feedback from enterprises for Ubuntu for Android. I think potential enterprise customers are probably waiting to see the Ubuntu Edge campaign gather momentum and participate once we have achieved over 60 percent of funding. I would encourage them not to wait! We need their support early on.

Please provide more detail as to what the companies who purchase the $80,000 Enterprise Bundle will receive. What kind of training and support comes with it?
We had been working with manufacturers and enterprises on convergence device trials. Our team has gained a lot of knowledge on how to leverage these devices to get the best out of them. We will provide access to that knowledge to any enterprise that pledges for the Enterprise Bundle. You will get direct access to our engineering team for any support and rollout questions. It is a good deal!

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