Red Hat announced its Red Hat Exchange program last week. (Coincidentally, the abbreviation for the program—RHX—reminds me of the OXC abbreviation used for our OpenLogic Expert Community program.) They've already signed up a number of open source vendors and are offering those vendors’ open source applications as part of the Red Hat Network. By consolidating sourcing and support for the Linux operating system and a number of applications on top of it, Red Hat is hoping to make it that much easier for Global 2000 companies to use open source software in a production environment.
While this looks like a step in the right direction, my concern is that the Red Hat Network doesn't go far enough in providing the breadth and choice that customers want.
As we work with Global 2000 companies, we find that they are using a broad range of open source packages. On the average, companies that we talk to report using 75 different open source packages. (In fact, this number probably underestimates actual usage, since many companies do not have an easy way to inventory open source.)
First, when large enterprises look for support for open source, they typically want coverage for the whole breadth of open source products they use. This includes products like Spring, Struts, Eclipse, JSF, Ant, Maven, CVS and Subversion, which go beyond the open source applications that have been announced as part of RHX.
Second, companies look for choice within any product category. They want support for open source products like Tomcat and Geronimo that might compete with Red Hat’s products.
Lastly, customers are deploying open source across multiple platforms -- including RHEL, SUSE, Solaris and even Windows. They want open source support that covers all of the platforms they deploy on. Whether RHX will ever support multiple platforms remains a question.
As Dave Rosenberg commented on Matt Asay’s blog about RHX, “The thing I don’t love about rhx is that it’s not an open market.” With Red Hat controlling vendor participation in RHX, competition and choice—at least for some types of applications—will be limited.
At OpenLogic, we have chosen to offer support for hundreds of open source packages that give customers options across a variety of product categories and a variety of platforms. We believe that this provides the breadth AND choice that companies want.
Red Hat will undoubtedly continue to fill out their offering, and perhaps someday it may be considered a one-stop-shop for open source. But it’s my belief that customers have needs that go beyond what Red Hat is willing to offer. At the end of the day enterprises will pick the solutions best meet their needs, whether or not those solutions all come from RHX.
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