Red Hat's journey through the 'land of the giants'

Red Hat's journey through the 'land of the giants'

A year after setting up in New Zealand, and armed with new products, open source provider focuses on winning middleware business

Open source provider Red Hat claims it is gaining traction in the New Zealand market.

Red Hat credits this in part to the establishment of a presence here with the opening of an office in Auckland in April, 2011.

But with last month’s global rollouts of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6, and upgrades to its JBoss Data Grid and Enterprise Business Rules Management System, the company sees itself in a better position to compete for business with middleware ISVs, systems integrators and resellers.

“Traditionally, organisations have looked to IBM and Oracle for this, and we’ve struggled to gain legitimacy because we lacked a presence and a track record,” says Max McLaren, Red Hat’s MD for Australia and New Zealand.

“We are still a relative newcomer in the middleware market. Having capability in New Zealand to show the system integrators the value proposition of JBoss and to discount the propaganda that has prevailed in the market has been our aim.”

Red Hat appears to view the Enterprise Application Platform 6 as a major product announcement. The vendor is emphasising its integration with other development tools, leveraging its open source pedigree, and a platform that supports the latest Java specs.

A web-based alternative to the platform’s full Java product is designed to put application development into the cloud, making the process more agile and “lightweight” than in previous releases.

“When we say lightweight, we mean application service slimming,” says Mclaren. “When you install the software, you only install parts of it that the Java developer needs, as opposed the whole platform. So, it’s not consuming a lot of CPU and memory or infrastructure resources to run that system, which means it’s lower cost.”

The company says it is using case studies and show-and-tell to attract new business. In Australia, McLaren says, one government customer opted to use the Red Hat server suite to test a concept that would have cost the organisation much more to do through its legacy vendor.

What the company’s efforts have translated to is year-on-year growth that tracks the vendor’s global expansion.

“We’re a 90 to 95 percent channel-based model in New Zealand,” says Mclaren. “We’ve acquired a significant number of partners. We don’t break down results by country but it’s growing 20 to 30 percent a year globally and we reflect similar growth in this part of the world.”

The focal point now is winning business among those specialists, a tough market with stiff competition from Oracle and IBM.

“It would be safe to say that the majority of our growth in the middleware practice is predominantly among that system integrator and reseller space,” says Ben Henshall, Red Hat’s sales manager for middleware business in ANZ. “The reason for that in New Zealand particularly is that open source model we have. This is taking us into the land of the giants.”

Henshall says that improvements to the Enterprise Business Rules Management System have convinced developers that the JBoss toolset has become more “mature, integrated and innovative”.

“Tagged with the pay-as-you-go subscription cost, they can deliver more solutions in terms of intellectual property when they go and build for a customer,” Henshall says.

The company is banking on another product it announced in June, JBoss Data Grid 6.0, to give resellers a way to help customers manage and collate large loads of data. Whether or not their efforts will help them grow big in the “land of the giants” remains to be seen.

“The objective of investing a year ago was to build the ecosystem and we’ve been doing that,” says McLaren. “We’re adding and enhancing our resellers, including a number in the middleware space. But we always welcome new ones.”

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