Red Hat to Partners: Prepare for Hosted Desktop Virtualization
It’s time for Red Hat partners to look beyond Linux. That’s the key message for Red Hat’s channel in 2010. Sure, plenty of Red Hat resellers have also embraced Red Hat’s JBoss middleware. But now the open source company has something new cooking for partners: Hosted desktop virtualization. Here’s the update.
To understand where Red Hat is heading, rewind to the company’s Q3 results — which were announced Dec. 22, 2009. Total revenue for the quarter jumped a healthy 18% to $194.3 million. At the time CEO Jim Whitehurst said:
“We also continued to introduce new products, including the November  release of RHEV that advances our position in server virtualization and cloud computing. RHEV provides customers the choice of a high-value, low cost, open management solution that was not previously available in the $2 billion virtualization market.”
Hmmm… RHEV is short for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. At first glance, Red Hat was a bit late to the virtualization game — where just about everyone has been chasing VMware. But Red Hat’s Whitehurst had to pick his fights and choose his business priorities carefully.
Looking Back to Get Ahead
When Red Hat named Whitehurst as CEO (effective Jan. 1, 2008), all seemed well at the Linux company. But therein was the problem: Red Hat’s JBoss middleware business, acquired in April 2006, wasn’t performing all that well.
By January 2009, JBoss was finally gaining traction — thanks to a growing channel partner base that typically earns more than $10 in consulting fees for every dollar of JBoss middleware they resell.
Around the same time, Red Hat landed atop The VAR Guy’s first-annual Open Source 50 report, which tracks the most promising open source channel partner programs. (The second-annual Open Source 50 survey launches in days.)
Now, Red Hat is finally looking to repeat its Linux and JBoss success in the virtualization market.
Still in beta, RHEV for desktops allows users to centralize and virtualize their desktop applications on servers. It’s not a unique strategy… plenty of companies are pushing into desktop virtualization, including Microsoft in close relationship with Citrix Systems.
But Red Hat is in growth mode. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss middleware both generated double-digit growth in 2009 while rival software companies struggled to maintain current revenue levels. It sounds like RHEV is arriving in the right place at the right time…