Red Hat has refocused its sales model to attract resellers, claiming that selling through retail is no longer profitable.
The open-source vendor has launched a partner programme offering VARs the Advanced Partner and Red Hat Ready accreditations.
Paul Salazar, marketing director for Red Hat EMEA, said: "Red Hat is an 11-year-old company. For five or six years we have been making a retail product. Over the past 24 months we have changed our selling model to be enterprise focused."
Linux distributors, including TurboLinux, SuSE and Mandrake, as well as Red Hat, chose retail as the best way to impress the operating system, and their brands, upon users.
"Red Hat is embracing the channel rather than the direct sales model," said Mike Jones, director of direct services at Computacenter, whose CCD Metrologie arm distributes Red Hat. "The accreditations are not just a pretty medal on the door but proof of the reseller's ability to sell the product."
Red Hat pulled its desktop lines earlier this year, despite protests from the open-source community. The company is now concentrating on Red Hat Enterprise platform and Fedora, a desktop Linux environment.
"There's an extraordinary difference between an open-source project and a product," said Salazar. "With a product, we have to localise, train partners, apply changes, make regular releases, create manuals and provide services on a 24/7 basis.
"We made a business decision to do what we did. We could go broke selling retail boxed product, and instead we're making a profit."
Peter Dawes, managing director of Linux IT, which has already signed up as an Advanced Partner, said Red Hat's earlier approach to the market had not worked as well as expected. He added that his firm was selling more than 50 Red Hat offerings for every SuSE product.
"The traditional route to market for operating systems was not applicable to Linux. All of the Linux distributions tried to go through major system integrators, but they needed to go to people who had the appropriate skills to support Linux in the enterprise," he said.
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