Like most mobile carriers across the globe, AT&T has embraced Linux — in fact, the Linux kernel powers the Android platform. But AT&T recently surprised a lot of people by turning its back on Microsoft and adopting Ubuntu as its cloud, enterprise, and application solution provider. In addition, Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) will provide support for these platforms/solutions.

The reason why AT&T chose Ubuntu

AT&T is reinventing how it scales, and Ubuntu will be at the heart of this strategy. The reason the carrier chose Ubuntu was simple: innovation and performance in the realm of the cloud. Ubuntu is the leading platform for scale-out workloads and cloud, and this is exactly what AT&T needed in the never-ending war against mobile carriers.

Toby Ford, Assistant Vice President of Cloud Technology, Strategy and Planning at AT&T, said, “We’re reinventing how we scale by becoming simpler and modular, similar to how applications have evolved in cloud data centers. Open source and OpenStack innovations represent a unique opportunity to meet these requirements, and Canonical’s cloud and open source expertise make them a good choice for AT&T.”

This should serve as a clear indicator as to what platform has become the clear winner in the race to the sky: Ubuntu (as it is the number one cloud platform on the market). In fact, 80% of large-scale OpenStack deployments run on top of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is also a large player in the Amazon and Microsoft cloud space. From this point on, when you think cloud, you should think Ubuntu.

More money, more desktop?

This deal will go a very long way to inject Canonical with some much-needed capital as the company pushes forward with its convergent desktop. But beyond that the deal will also, most likely, drive other enterprise companies to select Ubuntu as their cloud-of-choice platform.

Hopefully, this soon-to-be massive influx of business won’t turn Ubuntu away from the platform that brought it to this place… Ubuntu Desktop. Yes, the cloud is the thing, but Canonical would be remiss if the company turned its back on the desktop. I don’t see that happening, but I do see Canonical following in similar footsteps as Red Hat and SUSE. It would come as no surprise if Canonical spun off desktop development into its own entity so it could focus much of its efforts on the cloud.

It is also not beyond the realm of possibility that this deal could give Canonical a foot in the door to get its Ubuntu Phone on the AT&T network. This would be a major win for a niche mobile platform that has struggled to make serious headway. Having a major US carrier in its pocket could have profound secondary benefits for Canonical and Ubuntu.

An odd addition to the conclusion

Canonical recently made a deal with Oracle to provide enterprises with greater flexibility in deploying large-scale workloads with the help of Oracle Cloud. Certified Ubuntu images are now available in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace to provide Oracle enterprise customers with a true “grab and go” approach to the cloud.

Although this might seem an odd pairing of a Linux-based company to a company that many have seen as having the “anti-Midas touch” with all things open source, Canonical needs to have its cloud solution available to all markets, including the Oracle Cloud Marketplace.

No matter how you look at this deal, it is a major win for Canonical and Ubuntu. The 2016 year is already shaping up to be a massive win for the company that has done the most for Linux on the desktop.

Weigh in

Do you think this deal will have any effect for Ubuntu on the desktop or Ubuntu on the phone? Let us know in the comments.