Red Hat Sales Team and Channel Partners: Getting Cozier?
Red Hat wrapped up a major channel partner conference last week. But the channel chatter continues within the Linux and open source specialist. Indeed, Red Hat is mulling potential ways to make sure the company’s internal sales team works even more closely with channel partners, according to North America Channel Chief Roger Egan. Here’s the update, and a look at how Red Hat plans to accelerate Linux, virtualization, Jboss middleware, cloud and storage sales through the channel.
First, the sales chatter. Red Hat is exploring ways to ensure the company’s internal sales team has a “neutral” approach to revenue generation — potentially getting rewarded the same fee whether a deal is sold direct or indirect. As that internal chatter continues, Red Hat is making quantifiable progress with its partner program. The company expects to become the world’s first $1 billion open source company this fiscal year. Generally speaking, roughly 50 to 60 percent of Red Hat’s revenues come from partners. And more than 400 people — including 300 channel partners — attended a Red Hat partner conference in Florida last week.
Among the highlights:
1. The Cloud: Everyone from CEO Jim Whitehurst on down explained Red Hat’s cloud strategy to partners. The effort starts with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), and continues forward with Red Hat’s IaaS and PaaS efforts. “Eighty percent of the new development on the cloud is happening on Linux,” Egan asserted. Plus, he added, the virtualization opportunity for Red Hat and partners is growing 30 percent annually.
Rounding out the cloud strategy, Red Hat has acquired Gluster — an open source storage specialist — to help partners and customers more easily move data between private and public clouds.
2. Middleware: Often overlooked by the mainstream press, potential growth for Red Hat’s Jboss middleware business remains an “enormous” opportunity within a $17 billion addressable market, Egan asserted.
3. Partner Program Commitments: Red Hat is addming more than 20 reps across North America to help channel partners accelerate sales. “Their entire job every day is to wake up wand sell with partners,” said Egan. He estimates there’s still $100 billion worth of Unix installed base that “still needs to move [to Linux] and will move.”
4. Strategic Engagements: Egan mentioned growing relationships between Red Hat and some IT industry titans, particularly Cisco Systems, NetApp and SAP. Ironically, SAP has been a long-term partner with SUSE Linux. Clearly, Red Hat wants to pull SAP into its camp.
5. New Incentives: Red Hat is building so-called Ambassador initiative to partners become solutions architects. The idea is for partners to become an extension of Red Hat’s own in-house expertise.
The VAR Guy will be watching that effort closely.