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Eight Ways VARs Can Profit From Linux And Open Source

The VAR Guy

July 30, 2008

3 Min Read
Eight Ways VARs Can Profit From Linux And Open Source

As we approach next week’s LinuxWorld Expo, The VAR Guy was reminded of an age-old problem. During a meeting earlier this week in New Orleans, a solution provider told The VAR Guy he just didn’t understand how to profit from open source. Didn’t we put this issue to rest a long time ago? Perhaps not. Here are eight ways VARs can profit from Linux and Open Source.

First, don’t “sell” Linux. People don’t buy operating systems. They buy applications and services. Selling a Linux file server? Yawn. What are you, a NetWare holdout sent to us from the 1990s? Building Linux white boxes? Leave the PC market to true Linux experts like System76 and ZaReason.

Instead, get your arms around one or more of these open source solutions. Are all of these solutions rock-solid? Perhaps not, concedes The VAR Guy. But the companies mentioned below are working hard to get VARs and solutions providers up to speed on their technologies:

  1. An ERP solution: There are numerous components from which to choose, including Openbravo or Compiere (for ERP), MySQL or EnterpriseDB (for databases) and Linux (or Windows Server, if you’re stubborn).

  2. A CRM solution: Leverage options like SugarCRM or Concursive, plus a database and Linux or Windows Server.

  3. A point-of-sale solution: Leverage open source solutions like Openbravo POS.

  4. A collaborative software solution: A lot of companies — large and small — are embracing Zimbra email, and there’s plenty of buzz around Open Xchange.

  5. Security and Network Administration Solutions: Here, Untangle and GroundWork Open Source come to mind.

  6. VoIP and Unified Communications: Chances are, you’ve heard about Asterisk, the open source PBX. Digium leads that market, but there are plenty of other companies to check out. Fonality, for one, has attracted Dell’s attention. Oh, and The VAR Guy wrote a bit about Voiceroute, a unified communications specialist, earlier this month.

  7. Managed Services: Here again, Untangle is promoting a partner program. And VARs are generating recurring monthly revenue from managed open source technologies.

  8. Software as a Service: This is the big one. Why — oh why — would a VAR resell Microsoft’s new software+service offerings and make pennies on the dollar? Instead, dive into the open source market and host your own applications. SugarCRM estimates that 30 percent of their new business involves SaaS deployments, which means more and more companies are moving away from on-premise projects.

Open source plus SaaS is the perfect storm for VARs. But for some strange reason, most VARs have yet to head into the eye of this storm. Perhaps that will start to change at LinuxWorld Expo.

There are dozens of ways VARs can profit from open source. The VAR Guy didn’t even mention options like middleware (Red Hat’s JBoss) and mobile solutions. But then again, most VARs are too busy reselling Microsoft’s technology.

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