A blog for the enterprise open source community
Open source tunes into the channelJay Lyman, April 15, 2009 @ 4:40 pm ET
A new effort was announced by prominent open source software vendors — Red Hat and charter members Alfresco, EnterpriseDB, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Likewise, Pentaho, Zmanda, Zenoss and Zimbra — and channel player SYNNEX to extend open source software into the all-important sales and distribution channels of mid-market value-aded resellers (VARs) and system integrators (SIs).
The idea is strangely familiar to the Red Hat Exchange network launched two years ago with similar founders. That effort began similarly targeted toward providing smaller customers a stack of open source software, but quickly transitioned to serve more as a partner network. There will certainly be a challenge in making the Open Source Channel Alliance appeal to the key channel consultants, outfits and firms of the midmarket, where there is indeed greater interest in open source software. The Channel Alliance does coincide with a couple of trends we’re seeing in the market.
First, as discussed in Matt’s recent entry on the drivers of enterprise open source, cost may be what leads customers and users to open source software. However, other factors, such as availability of source code, flexibility, feature-development and time-to-market become more important over time. Furthermore, I believe it is the quality of open source software that is driving further use, paid use and the spread of open source software not only from insfrastructure to applications, but also from enterprise to mid-market and SMB customers.
Second, we do see evidence of open source vendors increasingly reaching out and successfully connecting with channel resellers and partners, as well as growing their own direct sales to smaller customers. Two recent examples that are the subject of coming 451 Group reports are JumpBox, which provides open source software in virtual appliances for smaller customers and Untangle, which mixes open source and SaaS to deliver its network gateway security software to service providers, other resellers and SMBs.
Many of the enterprise, mid-market and SMB channel players have seen the open source writing on the wall for some time, but have resisted because of skepticism, inertia and a history of making money from the traditional licensing models. However, now that open source is emerging as a term that customers, including mid-market and SMB ones, want to hear and associate with cost-savings, these channel players, particularly the ones that have not already branched into and benefited from open source software, are realizing the need to have open source in their tool bags.
Perhaps the new Open Source Channel Alliance effort will provide further evidence that the greater opportunity for open source continues to be in the enterprise market. However, given economic conditions and its timing, the initiatiave may be just the resource that’s needed to bring channel partners over to open source in greater numbers. This could also perpetuate increased interest and use of open source software among channel vendors and smaller users.
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