June 12, 2006
Red Hat India is rolling out one of its most ambitious channel programs in the country. Called the Red Hat - Intel Partner Program (IPP), this program is aimed at targeting existing Intel partners and brings them into the Red Hat's fold to proliferate the Linux desktop initiative.
So far, Red Hat India was busy consolidating its efforts for Linux adoption on the server front. Now the company wants to make inroads into the desktop business, which IDC has predicted will be the biggest growth area for Linux.
Red Hat ran a pilot of this program a fortnight ago and has already inducted 20 partners across different tiers. Now that it has tested and made some variations in the program, following the pilot run, it plans to add another 80 partners to it. However, this number can change as the program has been made flexible and partners can move up from one tier to another.
The vendor has even deputed a dedicated person, Nitin Anand, in New Delhi whose sole responsibility will be to work on this program. “We are investing heavily into this program as we understand that this is the best go-to-market strategy, for our desktop offerings,” said Amit Boraskar, Head - Alliances, Red Hat India.
The reason the software company is partnering specifically with Intel's channel is because Intel has the largest breadth of partners. Also, most of its partners develop their own solutions and are systems integrators rather than box pusher, which again serves Red Hat's purpose, as the latter is seeking partners who can deploy Linux solutions on the end-customer's desktop.
“In the desktop space there is no other vendor who has tapped the market as successfully as Intel. So it is natural for us to forge a symbiotic relationship with their partners,” added Boraskar.
Also, Intel's partners can offer better value and lower costs to their customers, by porting Linux solutions on the desktops. Like Boraskar pointed out, the maintenance of a desktop is six times more than its acquisition cost. “By offering a more secure and manageable OS like Linux, partners can enhance their own value offering to their customers,” he noted.
Incidentally, Red Hat will also sign up partners of other vendors into the IPP program along the way to reach out to a larger community of desktop users. This program will be initiated in India and depending on its success could be introduced in other developing markets like Brazil, China and Russia.
The focus of the program is to capture the desktop market, which is a burgeoning one, especially in some verticals. These include education, government and SMB segments. “In fact, education is one of the biggest thrust areas for us India. This is also in sync with our 'One Child One Laptop' global initiative,” informed Boraskar.
Red Hat will train, educate and support partners inducted into the IPP program on open source technologies and solutions that can be built around it. It will give them technical training and certify the solutions developed by them.
These partners will be accommodated into three tiers. The first is a 'Red Hat Desktop Ready Partner' (RHDRP), which will comprise resellers and systems integrators. They will make for a chunk of the new channel program.
The second tier is the Red Hat Desktop Advanced Business partner, which will have partners who typically have a national presence. They are of the likes of Wipro, TCS, HCL Infosystems and Microland who are large system integrators. “They will sign with Red Hat not only in terms of coming up with go-to-market strategy on Linux and open source but also exploring the opportunity pertaining to the services with Linux and open source market gives you today,” said Boraskar.
The third tier called the 'Red Hat Desktop Premium Partners' will have various OEMs and ISVs who get classified from a RHDRP and then they become an advanced partner and finally the premium partner. “For them, we have a strong enablement program wherein a typical ISV's application is certified, we port that application, we train the ISV in terms of delivering solutions in and around Red Hat's products and solutions,” added Boraskar. Offering such certifications will validate the partner's offerings and also build a level of trust among customers.
Linux adoption on the desktop front is still pretty low and Red Hat wants to change this status quo. It has already done desktop migration projects with enterprises like Life Insurance Corporation of India, Allianz Bank and Canara Bank. For the latter, it has already migrated 10000 desktops from proprietary OS to Linux applications.