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The Open Source Channel Alliance: Who Are the Members?

The VAR Guy

April 14, 2009

6 Min Read
The Open Source Channel Alliance: Who Are the Members?

For traditional Microsoft VARs and solutions providers, the new Open Source Channel Alliance includes a lengthy list of application providers that are just getting started in the IT channel. Who exactly are the Open Source Channel Alliance members, and what are their individual channel strategies? Here’s the scoop, from The VAR Guy.

As reported, nearly a dozen companies — led by Red Hat and Synnex — have launched the Open Source Channel Alliance to promote open source business applications to nearly 15,000 mid-market resellers. No, this is not the death of Microsoft. Thousands of channel VARs remain fiercely loyal to Windows and Microsoft’s application stack.

But open source applications have reached a tipping point. Here’s a look at each of the initial alliance members:

1. Alfresco: Maker of a content management system positioned as the open source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint. Ranked Number 12 in The VAR Guy’s Open Source 50 report, which tracks the open source industry’s most promising partner programs.

Asked to comment about Alfresco’s relationship with Synnex and the Open Source Channel Alliance, Alfresco evangelist Matt Asay wrote:

“We work with other distributors (like SHI), but not in earnest like this one [the Synnex deal].  So, yes, this is the first significant distributor deal we’ve signed, as it’s much more than that: Synnex works with thousands of system integrators, and will actively be marketing Alfresco and other open-source solutions to them. That’s what makes this important for us and our peers. We also work with Carahsoft to distribute to federal and state governments, but given its focus on government, it’s critical to us but not as broad-based as the Synnex partnership.”

2. EnterpriseDB: An open source database supplier. Participation in the alliance is particularly impressive, since rival MySQL is noticeably absent. Ranked No. 19 in The Open Source 50.

3. Ingres: Another open source database supplier. According to a spokesperson for the company, “This is the first channel distribution deal for Ingres in the US. We do have distribution agreements in other geographies.” Ranked No. 8 in The Open Soruce 50.

4. Jaspersoft: A well-known maker of open source business intelligence software, which is gaining momentum lately. Ranked No. 5 in The Open Source 50. According to Jose Morales, VP of business development at Jaspersoft:

“This is our first domestic deal with a distributor like Synnex, particularly when you take into consideration their size and reach.  We do have distributors in some of our international locations, but those organizations are more focused on selling our products through a smaller specialized reseller channel in those countries.

I think that relationships with companies such as Synnex are the natural evolution for open source solutions providers.  The modularity, transparency of the software, and the support for open standards naturally lends itself to a channel strategy, where there is a large opportunity for integration and customization for the VAR community. Now working with a partner like Synnex, VARs have the additional benefit of single-sourcing multiple components to a solution.”

Morales also connected the dots between Jaspersoft and Red Hat:

“We are also happy to be in the alliance with Red Hat, an investor in Jaspersoft.  This is just another in a long line of joint initiatives between the companies that started with participation in RHX and includes Red Hat embedding Jaspersoft into solutions such as Red Hat Network. Now every combination of Red Hat and Jaspersoft products will be available through Synnex, providing the broadest possible choice to our joint end customers.”

5. Likewise Software: This ISV bridges the gap between Unix, Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft’s Active Directory. The VAR Guy has reached out to the company for comment, and awaits perspective. Noted as a company to watch on The Open Source 50.

6. Pentaho: Another major provider of open source business intelligence software. According to VP of Marketing Lance Walter:

“This is not our first channel distribution deal, but we’re excited about it all the same given Red Hat’s involvement and commitment, and Synnex’s reach. We also work with Carahsoft (government-focused reseller in the U.S) andUnisys in the U.S., and have recently added a number of resellers, focused more on emerging markets or places where Pentaho doesn’t have astrong direct presence. Here’s a mostly up-to-date list of our authorized resellers.

Pentaho recently held a partner summit, officially launched its Gold Partner Program in February 2009, and the company named a channel chief (SugarCRM veteran Lars Nordwall) in 2008. Pentaho was ranked No. 13 on The Open Source 50.

7. Red Hat: Surely, you known this company by name. To learn about Red Hat’s overall channel strategy, check out this podcast with North American Channel Chief Roger Egan. And keep an eye on Red Hat’s JBoss middleware business, which is growing faster than Red Hat’s Linux platform business. Ranked No. 1 on The Open Source 50.

8. Synnex: The distributor glue that holds together the Open Source Channel Alliance. Synnex has more than 15,000 mid-market resellers, providing a targeted distribution pipeline for open source application providers. Not ranked on The Open Source 50 since the company is a distributor rather than an ISV.

9. Zenoss: Specializes in systems and network monitoring. Recently held the first Zenoss Community Day as a precursor to the 7th annual Southern California Linux Expo. The VAR Guy has been trading email with Zenoss seeking comment about the Open Source Channel Alliance. Noted as a company to watch on The Open Source 50.

10. Zimbra:  The open source email supplier, now owned by Yahoo. Generates 52 percent of its revenue from more than 600 channel partners. Ranked No. 6 in The Open Source 50.

11. Zmanda: Well-known supplier of open source backup software. Claims to offer backup at one-tenth the price of traditional options. Working closely with Amazon Web Services. According to Zmanda CEO Chander Kant, Synnex represents the first distribution deal for Zmanda. Kant added:

“We do have direct relationships with several Resellers. This is the first time we are announcing a distributor relationship.This is very timely for us. The coming together of leading open source companies, including Red Hat, gives a critical mass and focus, which are required for distribution model to work.”

So there you have it: A look at the initial Open Source Channel Alliance members. The VAR Guy is NOT suggesting that the alliance is perfect, nor is he stating this is the end of the Microsoft IT channel.

Rather, the Open Source Channel Alliance members offer real proof that open source has pushed far beyond Linux in the IT channel. And The VAR Guy suspects the alliance is a sign of bigger things to come. Ingram Micro and Tech Data, in particular, will need to more formally address the open source market. And ISVs — such as MySQL, SugarCRM and Compiere — will need to decide whether to join the initial alliance, or to work through distribution in other ways.

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