The big opportunity for Red Hat may not be in selling software, but rather in corralling contributions from its IT customers.
Red Hat's Jim Whitehurst pounded the pulpit this week about the need to expand open source into the largest software developer market on the planet: The enterprise. Oracle, Microsoft, et al. write lots of software, but their contributions to the software world are infinitesimal compared with the development done at real software shops like Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, etc.
The vast majority of software written today is written in enterprise and not for resale. And the vast majority of that is never actually used. The waste in IT software development is extraordinary....Ultimately, for open source to provide value to all of our customers worldwide, we need to get our customers not only as users of open source products but truly engaged in open source and taking part in the development community.
Exactly. Jim knows what he's talking about: He comes from the enterprise world, having served as COO of Delta Airlines for several years. If Red Hat can become the hub to that development world, it will dominate the market...in a positive way.
All of which made this email I received from the head of public relations at a large enterprise so intriguing:
Have you covered our company much? We are one of the largest open source shops in the xxxx and we are introducing two new piece of code into the Open Source community that you might find of interest.
No, it wasn't Red Hat. It wasn't MySQL. It wasn't Openbravo, Zimbra, SugarCRM, MuleSource, or any other open-source vendor. It's a company that sells absolutely no software.
It's the future of open source. Does it also represent the future of Red Hat's business?