Red Hat’s Next Move: Keep An Eye on Two Investments
Red Hat already focuses on Linux, JBoss middleware and virtualization. But there are multiple signs the open source company will make a business intelligence move soon. And Red Hat’s move could involve either Jaspersoft or EnterpriseDB — or both. Here’s some analysis, some speculation and some potential implications for Red Hat’s channel partners.
The VAR Guy is willing to wager that Business Intelligence will be a key theme at Red Hat Summit 2010 and JBoss World 2010 (Boston, June 22-25).
The Chatter Starts
Back in January 2010, JBoss CTO Mark Little leaked word that Red Hat had “plans to do something in the BI space.” Hmmm… Now, The VAR Guy hears Red Hat has been sharing a few details about those plans with selected partners. Alas, our resident blogger doesn’t have full details — yet — but here are two clues:
- Red Hat invested in EnterpriseDB, the open source database provider, in 2009. (Here are some details.) Yes, EnterpriseDB has made some BI moves over the years.
- Red Hat also invested in Jaspersoft, the open source business intelligence specialist, in 2008. (Here are some details.)
It’s important to note that Red Hat has been distributing [EnterpriseDB’s] Postgres for some time. It’s in every copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora that Red Hat ships. As such, it’s already in the hands of thousands of Red Hat customers and users, and is in heavy demand in some geographies, particularly Latin America. But until now Red Hat has not provided robust support for the database on par with its support for Linux and JBoss.
The Bigger Story
Red Hat’s forthcoming BI strategy will need to balance three opportunities and challenges. They include:
1. ISV Support: Red Hat needs to strengthen the open source applications market without alienating certain partners. Dozens of small open source ISVs (see the Open Source 50 report) are striving to build channel programs and gain critical financial mass. Even as Red Hat works more closely with EnterpriseDB and Jaspersoft, the company must also maintain working relationships with other database and BI specialists — such as Ingres, Pentaho and Oracle’s own MySQL.
2. Channel Partner Support: Here, Red Hat has been working with folks like the Open Source Channel Alliance (the OSCA, in tandem with Synnex) and Open Tech (launched by Tech Data). The VAR Guy hears both the OSCA and Open Tech are off to slow starts because traditional Synnex and Tech Data resellers aren’t all that familiar with application-level integration projects, nor are they familiar with revenue models for open source.
Working with the OSCA and Open Tech, Red Hat needs to carefully promote its ISV partners to channel partners — without showing favoritism to any one partner (say, EnterpriseDB or Jaspersoft).
3. The Oracle-MySQL Factor: Plenty of conspiracy theorists think Oracle will do little to promote MySQL (which Oracle acquired as part of the Sun Microsystems takeover).
Regardless, MySQL has reached an unstoppable critical mass within businesses. So Red Hat must somehow balance the MySQL relationship even as Oracle continues to promote Unbreakable Linux services — which have made Red Hat irate in recent months.
No doubt, partner opportunities in the BI space are real.
- During the recent SAP Partner Summit in Las Vegas, Business Objects partners sounded incredibly upbeat about customer demand for BI.
- Oracle continues to promote BI as part of the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized program.
- And privately held SAS Institute has been talking about BI gaining traction within small and midsize businesses.
Back in the open source sector, executives at Jaspersoft and Pentaho both sound upbeat about their BI partner programs… as these two FastChat videos cover:
FastChat Video: Jaspersoft CEO Brian Gentile
FastChat Video: Pentaho CEO Richard Daley
Red Hat’s BI Move
Based on those interviews, it’s no surprise that Red Hat is intrigued by the business intelligence market. The VAR Guy expects a formal BI strategy to arrive in time for Red Hat Summit 2010 in June. And it’s safe to expect EnterpriseDB and Jaspersoft to grab some of the spotlight at Red Hat’s conference.
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