Red Hat GM says proprietary days are over

It is the end for the proprietary platform in the enterprise, according to Red Hat Australia general manager Max McLaren as he briefed executives on Red Hat Enterprise version 4 in Canberra yesterday.

McLaren said version 4 has a common code base from desktop to data centre, a subscription model that delivers constant value and a development model that prevents vendor lock-in and fosters innovation.

"My standard value proposition to CIOs is that, generally, our customers find Linux to be at least half the cost and at least twice the performance," he said.

IDC statistics show that last year Linux made up $5 billion, Unix $16 billion and Windows $17 billion in server shipments, he said.

"Our market is currently the Unix to Linux migration, so we still have a long, long way to go before we are completely sated and have to go after any other market," he said, adding that most of his market comes from the Solaris space, "purely because Solaris is so expensive to run."

"Another key for us is that IDC predicts that the amount of people paying for Linux will increase from the current 15 percent to 40 percent in 2008," he said.

McLaren said Red Hat's commitment to open source adds value to end users. "We are a completely open source organization, so we do buy proprietary software; but as we've done with our Netscape acquisition and others we open source them as soon as we can once we've sorted out the legalities around doing so. Then we make that available to the open source community," he said.

"This is, contrary to some peoples' stereotype, not just a bunch of teenage hackers in a garage," he said, estimating that the open source community numbers around one million people.

"All these people are adding value to open source products. They have helped develop the IBMs, the Oracles and the Intels of this world," he said.

McLaren said he controls around 200,000 developers remotely through Fedora, and only has 200 developers actually working within Red Hat.

"Most proprietary companies will talk to you about their massive R&D budgets but there aren't many, if any, that will have access to that many developers," he said.

"That is why we can optimize the quality of our platforms and be so innovative. Once we do that we add quality of service and certification to our enterprise customers."

Red Hat enterprise versions are released close to every 18 months. Version 4 is based on the Linux 2.6 kernel and boasts scalability for both 32- and 64-bit workloads.

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