Linux vendor Red Hat has unveiled its Red Hat Exchange service that enables customers to acquire Red Hat technology pre-integrated with open source application offerings from third-party vendors.
The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company first outlined the potential for RHX, as it is known, during the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 in March, as a means of strengthening Red Hat's relationship with its partners.
RHX is essentially an online marketplace where customers can subscribe to pre-integrated open source software stacks with a single point of support and contact, as well as finding information on products from both vendors and the user community.
For example, customers can buy a one-year subscription to the Network Professional Edition of Zimbra's collaboration suite along with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 for $1895, for which they get installation and configuration support, two-business-day e-mail and web support, and unlimited incidents.
As well as Zimbra, RHX partners include Alfresco, CentricCRM, Compiere, EnterpriseDB, Groundwork, Jaspersoft, MySQL, Openfire, Pentaho, SugarCRM, Zenoss, and Zmanda. Scalix has also signed up to the program although its software is not available from RHX at this time.
Each subscription includes the same level of support, although they are all priced differently and some also contain additional Red Hat software. For example the Alfresco subscription also comes with the Red Hat Application Stack of MySQL, JBoss Application Server, and Hibernate, as well as the Red Hat Network for managing updates, for $4595.
In addition to the online marketplace, RHX is also an information resource with official installation guides and an area for unofficial community questions and answers, and feedback. There is also the opportunity for users to review the available offerings.
RHX can be seen as a response to the growth of open source support and service offerings from the likes of SpikeSource and OpenLogic, which were set up to provide a one stop shop for open source software, as well as Novell's Market Start program. In that respect it is long overdue.
In Red Hat's favor, alongside its profile as the leading Linux vendor, is the simplicity of the offering as far as customers are concerned. For the third-party vendors it also provides a new route to market, while Red Hat gets to expand its open source footprint without the need for risky acquisitions.
One disappointment is the geographical spread. While RHX is open to customers worldwide, support is in English-only and only during North America hours at this stage, with international expansion due later this year. Also expected later this year is a channel program through which systems integrators can get involved.