Ex-SUSE Channel Exec Heinrich To Join Red Hat

The Germany-based channel executive is slated to take the reins as Red Hat's channel chief in the Europe-Middle East-Asia (EMEA) region, where she will oversee solution providers and ISVs, several industry sources say. Red Hat declined to comment.

Heinrich left Novell in August 2005 and currently serves as sales chief for Open-Xchange, an open-source ISV in Germany that employs several ex-SUSE staff members.

"Petra will join Red Hat to follow a very interesting challenge," said one source from a former employer, who declined to be named.

Heinrich's appointment comes as Red Hat prepares to launch its much-anticipated version 2.0 channel program for solution providers and services companies.

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The Raleigh, N.C.-based Linux distributor has a substantial base of VARs and fulfillment partners but aims to build a services channel that can compete with Novell's formidable channel army. For example, Red Hat earlier this month hired former Lenovo and IBM channel executive Mark Enzweiler to serve as vice president of North American channel sales.

Heinrich brings a wealth of channel experience to Red Hat. She is credited with building the European channel for Lotus Notes for IBM and was a critical part of the Lotus-IBM integration in Europe. She also spearheaded SUSE's channel program in Europe.

On the surface, Red Hat's hiring moves indicate that the company aims to build a significant channel program, according to industry analysts.

"It speaks to their renewed commitment to the channel by bringing on seasoned channel leaders so close together," said Tiffani Bova, an IT channel analyst at research firm Gartner.

Still, one source close to Red Hat said the company must make significant changes in its sales compensation policies to enact real change on the channel front.

"It doesn't change my thoughts on the fact that [Red Hat sales executives] see little value in the channel," said the source, who requested anonymity. "If the reps aren't compensated for enabling a channel sale, then the process is broken."