Red Hat Launches Open-Source Exchange

The software company is unveiling an online marketplace for Open Source developers—where Red Hat can sell support, and links to its own products. From the article:

Red Hat signaled a strategic shift on Mar. 14 when it announced an initiative called the Red Hat Exchange (rhx), an online marketplace where it will sell products from more than a dozen open-source companies including Mysql, Sugarcrm, and Al Fresco Software. The exchange could make a wide range of software attractive to businesses large and small that have been put off by the challenges of buying from lesser-known suppliers and piecing it all together.

When rhx goes live in the second quarter, Red Hat will guarantee that the other companies’ products work well with its own, and the company will provide tech support for all of them. The marketplace will be much more than just an online product catalog. It’s designed to function as a community where users of open-source software can read reviews, rate the products, and compare notes.

Open-source software is made collaboratively by developers from around the world and is available for anybody to use, free of charge. Red Hat and others sell commercial versions that include extra software, documentation, and support. Says Red Hat chief executive Matthew J. Szulik, “Rhx gives us the opportunity to be the flag bearer for open-source software.”

Partners at launch will include Alfresco, Jaspersoft, MySQL and SugarCRM. The article is light on details, such as what level of support is offered by Red Hat before you go upstream and what kind of revenue share is involved. One thing is clear to me though; this is good for Open Source. It’s the beginning of a bona fide commercial Open Source ecosystem, the likes of which we’ve not yet seen. The importance of an ecosystem is one thing that Microsoft used to really get. It’s one of the things that has made them as strong as they are. But as their stock has slumped in recent years, they’ve begun to canabilize both ISV’s and partners. That makes now a golden opportunity for something like this. The Exchange should launch next quarter and is something I’ll definitely keep an eye on.

–jeremy

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