Red Hat launches open-source Exchange

Linux seller bands with open-source allies to sell wide range of server software on the Red Hat Exchange.

Red Hat has launched its Red Hat Exchange, a site where customers can buy a range of open-source applications from the company's business partners.

The Red Hat Exchange offers a much wider range of software than Red Hat's two core products, Enterprise Linux and the JBoss Java server software. Red Hat will sell and support the software, but the business partners will get a percentage of the proceeds and provide deeper support when necessary.

The company announced the Red Hat Exchange in March while launching its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, a major update to its core product. It announced the RHX launch Thursday at the Red Hat Summit in San Diego.

The exchange makes Red Hat a stronger competitor to Microsoft and the company's top Linux rival, Novell, which sells Suse Linux Enterprise Server and a variety of server software packages. But it also means Red Hat steps more directly on the toes of business partners such as IBM, Oracle and SAP.

"We think this could be an interesting strategy to determine market demand for complementary open-source technologies and eventually lead to acquisitions," said Credit Suisse analyst Jason Maynard in a research note Thursday. "We see immediate synergy with two RHX partners: Alfresco for content management and Zimbra for collaboration and messaging."

The RHX partnership list is a who's-who of open-source server companies: JasperSoft and Pentaho for business intelligence; EnterpriseDB and MySQL for databases; Alfresco for document management; Compiere for enterprise resource planning; Zimbra and Openfire messaging; for Zmanda for backup; CentricCRM and SugarCRM for customer relationship management; and GroundWork and Zenoss for systems monitoring.

As with its core products, Red Hat sells the software as an annual support subscription. Prices vary, but for example, Zimbra costs $1,895 per year; Alfresco, $4,595; SugarCRM, $2,495; and MySQL, $895.

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