Red Hat tips itself towards channel

After setting up shop in Australia six months ago, Linux developer Red Hat has signalled a new channel push, launching its Certified Channel Partner Program.

Having managed to secure retail distribution agreements with a number of channel companies for its low-end SOHO products, Red Hat is looking to bolster its high-end offerings.

"The strategy behind the Red Hat Channel Partner Program is to clearly identify and work with that smaller subset of channel partners who have an interest in working with Red Hat to add-value to their end-user solutions," claims Mark White, Red Hat vice president and general manager, Asia-Pacific.

The objective of the program, according to White, is to encourage resellers to become certified partners, thus enjoying marketing and sales support that Red Hat claims will help increase margins and grow resellers' businesses.

The program costs $4250 and includes one Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) accreditation and a single server support program, valued at $1875. It also features the latest edition of Red Hat Professional, online and help desk support, discount Web advertising, lead referrals, joint marketing opportunities and the ability to use the Red Hat Channel Partner logo.

"We're looking for the folks who are looking for Red Hat Linux to build solution stacks on and that's where the interest in launching this certified reseller program here in Australia [has come from]," said White.

White claims that, due to the success of Red Hat's training programs, the company is now looking to go deeper into the channel, partnering as a way to not only grow its retail box sales business, but also its high-end products and support packs.

Although there are no restrictions as to who can become a Red Hat reseller, White is looking to grow the company's certified reseller base into the three-figure range to ensure geographic coverage.

White also claims the move is sparked by a need to provide customers and the channel with support rather than convince them to use the software.

"This is a very interesting company to be in," said White. "We found the pattern of adoption is: normally someone tries it at home, brings it to the office, builds a small file server and six months later the entire office is running Red Hat. You'll find it's viral-like growth around organisations. So very little of what we do is say ‘use us instead of Sun'. Customers make that choice. We want to more, if you like, productise our support," White added.

"We think that the organisations that will implement solutions - you know, plug in the network, add a data base on top, configure the Web server, maybe build a Web site, add the e-commerce gateway, all those sorts of things - will want to ensure the platform they're doing these on is supported," White said. "What they want is a relationship with Red Hat to add some value to what they're doing."

Red Hat is also on the smaller software developer trail, looking to partner with small Australian companies that can tailor a solution, to which Red Hat can bring support packs to its customers.

Red Hat can be reached on 1800-Red-Hat.

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