No bees in the support bonnet for Red Hat

By : |July 26, 2013 0

PUNE, INDIA: Open is not cheap, or not just cheap is an industry meme that keeps making its rounds evey once in a while. The reality keeps surfing on questions that heave on a customer desk and the bottomlines of both open and the more introvert vendors in this industry. 

We know by now that Red Hat is a provider of open source solutions using a community powered approach in areas like Cloud, virtualization, storage, Linux and middleware. For someone that develops its products via community innovation, it is quite fascinating to travel through erstwhile industry models of making revenue and penetrating customer soils. Shared development, as the company, confidently apprises, reduces cost and accelerates innovation. But more than that open collaboration meets industry requirements.

OpenShift, for instance, has 161, 000,000 gear hours under its fold and flashing 2032 new apps per day on its dashboard. That is not a one-off maverick’s view any more as we see how even traditional proprietary giants are tilting or giving a semblance to be inclined towards open projects like CloudStack, MySQL, Avalon, Apache foundation, OpenStack Horizon, OpenNebula, Ubuntu, OpenDaylight, Open Compute, Cloud Foundry and of course, the oft-floated terms in commercial realm already like Android, Hadoop and more.

Is it a compulsion due to the growing user base and customer demand curves that are snowballed further by a billowing developer community? Or is it a compelling business, market and revenue argument already, is a question which is not hard to fathom.

One spot which is rather more intriguing is that of enterprise maintenance and support. Now usually ERP vendors rely on the AMC and support gravy trains to make money out of their golden geese for years on since a product is deployed. But Red Hat Support (as it prefers to tag) earns subscriber royalty by engaging in a collaborative relationship with its customers throughout the cycle from testing, deploying, upgrading of IT infrastructure and its upkeep. That when juxtaposed against a revenue mark of $1.33 billion, specially for an open-source genre firm, is all the more interesting. While the expensive license-maintenance fee cage has always been a pet peeve for ERP customers, it looks not at all impossible to experiment with disruptive models and still spin money. Or not?

Well, Red Hat also counts stability with product lifecycle up to ten years, as a highlight to watch, and a support strength that can boast of 24/7 service, multi-lingual, multi-vendor as well as mission critical elements.

In a press briefing, Marco Bill-Peter, VP, Global Support Services, took this puzzle head on in response to CIOL and explained how this model of subscription does not force customers, nor it depends on new versions to squeeze money. “We look at support in a different way. In our model, support is viewed from the lens of words like unlimited, automated and with diagnostic tools. The idea is not to defeat customers’ needs but to proactively engage with them. This is more like Cloud industry’s models. For us retention is very important and we ensure that support is part of the value proposition and not something to be worried about. When not sold as a part of license, support assumes different contours.”

It could also have something to do with the philosophical roots that open source companies have. That makes it easier probably to try and accommodate really radical ways. For now, Red Hat’s umbrella’s rim covers projects like Fedora, Gluster, RDO, OpenShift, oVirt primarily thus taking in almost everything from storage, middleware virtualization, ERP in an end-to-end way. 

Its customer basket has names like Hungama Digital Entertainment, SBI, HDFC. Key APAC clients like BHarti Airtel, China Life Insurance, Epitome Travel, Just Dial, Indonesia Stock Exchange, Nissan Motors, Telstra, SK telecom, ResMed etc give a drift that its vertical spread is also expanding.

It would be interesting to see where the hat tips off in the imminent future, more so, with big not-so-open-so-far breed of men brandishing their swords with the sabers of boy from open tribes.

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