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Much like Microsoft's (MSFT) influence over software developers in the 1990s, Red Hat (RHT) has seemingly rallied all of the major open source application providers to support the company's forthcoming online store--known as the Red Hat Exchange [RHX].

Make no mistake about it: Open source developers see Red Hat's forthcoming online store as their big opportunity to generate mind share and market share for their applications. The exchange could also extend Red Hat's lead over Novell in terms of overall Linux application support, The VAR Guy believes.

Skeptical? The VAR Guy reached out to several prominent open source application providers for their views on RHX. Here's a sampling of the email replies:

  • Michael Harvey, VP of business development, Centric CRM: "The RHX is a marketplace for open source solutions that run on Red Hat. Centric CRM is in fact participating in the RHX and will be one of the partners available on the site when it launches along with a bunch of other open source products. The ones I am aware of as of now include MySQL, SugarCRM, Alfresco, EnterpriseDB, JasperSoft, and Groundwork. I don't frankly see any downside to the RHX effort. I think it will help to broaden the marketplace for open source solutions, professionalize service and support, and generally drive awareness and sales of a bunch of solutions. Red Hat clearly is embracing a leadership role in the development of the overall, maturing open source market. I think that's a great role for them to play and they are well positioned for success in that regard."
  • Andy Pflaum, VP of business development at Zimbra: "Red Hat did a great job in involving Zimbra and a few other ISVs as it started developing the RHX program last year. We've worked closely since then, and we'll definitely be involved as a messaging and collaboration offering for RHX customers. We're excited because so many of our customers already run Zimbra on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and this now gives new customers an opportunity to buy Zimbra as part of a Red Hat-supported, integrated stack. We don't see a downside, except that any good partnership requires investment and effort on the part of all the parties; we actually see that as a plus for the customers, because they'll know they're getting Zimbra as part of an integrated solution backed by committed partners. The upside for an application provider like Zimbra is that we'll reach even more of our natural customer base -- companies looking for advanced enterprise messaging and collaboration to run on Red Hat Linux -- via Red Hat's large direct- and indirect sales channel."
  • Jose Morales, VP of business development, JasperSoft: “We are pleased that Red Hat is taking a leadership role in the further adoption of open source applications through the Red Hat Exchange. Our expectations are that customers will view open source applications available through RHX with the same confidence as they view Red Hat’s linux and infrastructure based products."
  • Tony Barbagallo,VP of product management & marketing, Groundwork OpenSource: "We are definitely on board to participate in RHX and in fact were one of about a dozen vendors that were listed in Red Hat’s presentation of RHX during their RHEL 5 launch this morning in San Francisco. The invitation from Red Hat to be a part of RHX really validates our traction in the open source systems and network management category, especially considering the fact that Red Hat offers their own internal solution (Red Hat Network) for systems monitoring. Given Red Hat’s leadership with Linux, I actually believe that with RHX Red Hat is in a position to become the Amazon of open source software. By the way, I can’t take credit for the Amazon analogy. Mike Evans, VP of corporate development at Red Hat, gave that analogy during his presentation this morning."
  • From a spokesman for MySQL: "Our MySQL Enterprise solution will be one of the first third-party products available through Red Hat Exchange [RHX]. It certainly shows that the open source market is maturing past the early adopter/do-it-yourselfer phase. We think it's great that Red Hat recognizes this & is launching this offering to provide additional support and services for small- and medium-sized companies. Red Hat also understands that this isn't going to be the perfect answer for everyone (one-size-fits-all), but it's important to launch and learn from this new, alternative channel option."
  • Impressive feedback. But Red Hat must ensure it doesn't play favorites--especially as it makes new acquisitions--once the online exchange launches.

    Disclosure: Author has no position in any of the above-mentioned securities.

    Source: Is Red Hat Ready to Be the Next Microsoft?