Red Hat Launches Certified Service Provider Program in U.S.

On Tuesday, the Raleigh, N.C. Linux company said it has enrolled about a half-dozen open-source partners in the U.S. to the invite-only CSP program and will expand beyond the U.S. in the future.

The program is currently focused on the Linux operating system but will expand to cover the globe and entire open source stack including Red Hat's JBoss middleware stack in the future, executives said.

As part of the program, Red Hat will initially offer three fixed-price solutions that qualified CSP partners can sell to customers. Red Hat pledges to give certified partners leads and will implement a revenue sharing model for partners that can subcontract with Red Hat's Global Professional Services for the first time, executives said.

InCentric, FusionStorm and Agilysys are among the first dozen or so CSPs, Red Hat announced Tuesday.

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"We're now engaging and implementing a channel strategy with a small number of partners who have an open source practice. We need to meet demand in the field," said Mark Enzweiler, vice president of North American channel sales at Red Hat, who came to the Linux company in October after 20 years of channel experience at IBM and Lenovo.

"We want to find a way to formalize a relationship with partners and give them an opportunity to help us and help them grow their open source service practices. CSP is part of that."

Red Hat will offer its CSP partners a more proactive outreach program, regional support, significant incentives and margins on license renewals, integration with the Linux company's go-to-market campaigns, and access to a technical account manager, Enzweiler added.

Red Hat has about 232 partners to date that resell subscriptions and provide services on Red Hat Linux. The CSP program is different because it gives select partners the ability to subcontract with Red Hat's professional services arm, access to Red Hat methodologies, and the right to earn Red Hat's certified stamp of approval, said Rachel Cassidy, vice president of global services for Red Hat, effective Feb 1.

Those seeking CSP certification must be Red Hat advanced business partner (ABP) and agree to use Red Hat developed methodologies for implementing open source stacks at customers sites. There are currently only about 30 Red Hat ABPs on the book.

"We'll bring the partner on Red Hat paper and the revenues will be shared between us," said Cassidy. 'We'll use that consultant under out umbrella. We're still accountable."

Red Hat will shadow partners in the field to train partners and ensure proper methodologies are being used but will not poach any customers nurtured by partners, executives insisted.

Red Hat's three fixed price solutions include a core build service for standardizing the build and deployment process that enables customers to manage thousands of systems; a health check service that enables customers to optimize their IT infrastructure based on an on-site check by experienced consultants; and a satellite implementation service for designing, installing and configuring a Red Hat Network satellite that enable top notch system management for cxustomers with more thna 20 servers.

Red Hat said CSP will also gain exposure to new customers, non open source follow on opportunities, possibilities for supplemental Red hat training and discounted professional services and access to a Red Hat technical specialist.

Since Enzweiler was appointed the new channel chief three month ago, he has hired seven new partner executives, including, Petra Heinrich, Novell SUSE's former channel chief, to lead Red Hat's European channel. That brings the total number of partner execs at red Hat to 13. He is involved in the ongoing restructuring of Red Hat into a regional-based company with local offices that can better support customers and integrators in each district.

Those participating in the CSP program said Red Hat is serious about developing a services channel.

"Red Hat realizes how a channel program will benefit their partners since it is aimed at making it easier for channel partners to do business with Red Hat through better sales, marketing and technical support," Frank Casillo, Director of Marketing at Agilysys. "Customers will also see an advantage through more collaborative efforts by Red Hat and partners in developing open source solutions."