How Will Novell and Canonical Answer the Open Source Channel Alliance?

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 15, 2009

As Kristin noted earlier, this week, Red Hat and IT services distribution provider SYNNEX announced the formation of the Open Source Channel Alliance. The alliance is squarely aimed at taking federated and logically connected collections of top open source applications and platforms straight to resellers. I think Matt Asay gets it right when he refers to the move as "pulling a Microsoft," in terms of aiming to leverage the sales channel. I suspect that all of the commercial open source players involved with the alliance will be well served by the arrangement, and, as The Var Guy notes, the alliance begs the question of how Novell and Canonical are going to react.

The Open Source Channel Alliance chose its nine charter members because their applications and platforms have synergy with each other. It would be beyond the scope of most resellers to put together all of the alliance's software offerings themselves.

So how will Novell and Canonical react to this largely Red Hat-driven initiative? The VAR Guy asked Novell Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon, who said this:

"With over 3,150+ SUSE Linux ISV certifications and 750 ISVs on the platform, we are doing a good job at getting the right applications on SUSE. My personal point of view is we have not done as good a job at linking our ISVs with the distributors. There’s no doubt that the channel in general and distributors and ISVs see the potential of open source and specifically Linux to their businesses.”

Clearly, Dragoon sees that reaching distributors and resellers with end-to-end open source solutions is a next step for Novell. Canonical has also been stepping up its efforts to form partnerships and reach out to VARs (value-added resellers), but it too is going to face significant competition in the sales channel from the Open Source Channel Alliance. Canonical hasn't put together anything quite as structured and simple as the new alliance. I suspect we'll see similar moves from both Novell and Canonical soon.