Building on the success of Linux, the channel wants to evolve its offerings to enable them to further reduce costs for their customers. With customers increasingly looking at datacentre consolidation to cut costs, virtualisation in particular is coming into its own.
However, the channel partner needs to understand how to deliver value on top. Management tools are becoming a useful way for the channel to help customers save money. If the added value is there the project may go ahead.
Combining virtualisation and management tools into an open source stack alongside middleware, databases and applications also opens up potential subscription revenue.
Going to a customer and sell them a licence with a big up-front cost is getting harder. Anyway, if all available budget is going on licences, that leaves nothing for integration costs.
Yet system integrators and VARs can save money – getting a chance to deliver more value – by partnering with open source vendors, avoiding the prohibitive costs of bringing proprietary software online and licence fees.
Selling subscriptions rather than licences may be a shift in business model and mindset.
Open source vendors can help them manage this.
But where do the immediate opportunities exist for the channel in selling open source software? The key is to focus on the applications that customers use on a Linux platform and to understand the server environment.
Verticals such as the public sector, banking and finance, telecommunications, manufacturing and utilities all offer real opportunities for enterprise open-source.
Training and enablement is clearly key. Vendors involved must continually invest in partners by providing seminars, product, sales and technical training, marketing support and sales training.
Indeed, during Red Hat's recent EMEA Partner Summit in Malta, the momentum and health of the open source partner community was evident with more than 400 partner delegates from 38 countries, including not only representatives from vendor partners such as HP and IBM, but from 1,700 smaller partners from around Europe.
More VARs are looking at how they can sell more of the open source software stack, with middleware a major focus.
But they may need help to focus on the right markets and design the solution.
Petra Heinrich is EMEA channel and partners director at Red Hat
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