Red Hat Revamps Partner Program

Looking to capitalize on growing interest by enterprises for open source solutions, Red Hat this week has revamped its partner program adding a premier tier and offering three levels of specialization.

The three levels of specialization are infrastructure, middleware and virtualization. Infrastructure primarily covers Red Hat Enterprise Linux, middleware includes its JBoss business and virtualization will cover new products to be released in the coming months, according to Roger Egan, Red Hat's vice president of North American channel sales.

"It’s a significant enhancement," Egan said in an interview. “It’s a recognition that our channel is maturing.”

According to Egan, Red Hat went from 250 to 500 channel partners two years ago to 1,500 today. That figure is swamped by various other vendors, especially Microsoft, which has 360,000 members in its Microsoft Partner Network.

The latest upgrade to the Red Hat Partner Program follows several other moves, including the release of a cloud partner certification program in June and an alliance with distributor Synnex in April to bring together various ISVs and other open source vendors.

Red Hat’s outreach to partners comes amid reports that enterprises are more willing now than they were in the past to consider open source solutions. An IDC report released late last month forecast that spending on open source will increase at least 24 percent after jumping 34 percent last year.

"Open source has changed from being somewhat foreign to enterprises to being associated positively with cost savings and flexibility, and at the very least gives them some leverage with their old proprietary dealers," said Jay Lyman, an analyst with The 451 Group. "We are increasingly seeing that realization by resellers."

The new Premier Business Partner category will give partners more support, including Web and phone, and will have dedicated channel solution architects. In order to qualify for premier status, the partner has to have four sales people and two technical employees, all of whom must be trained.

Two of those in sales must be certified while at least one technical person must have certifications. Premier partners will also have to offer a business plan that outlines targets and engagement plans, according to Red Hat’s Egan.

The premier level slides into the program above the pre-existing advanced and ready tiers. The advanced level requires partners to have at least one specialization, work with a channel account manager and complete a one-year business plan.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.