I had not discussed "the channel" for years until my interview last week with Todd Barr, director of enterprise marketing at RedHat.
But it's the channel that will make RedHat's acquisition of JBOSS work, Barr said.
The channel is a phrase that takes me back. Some of the first tech stories I did as a freelancer, back in the early 1980s, were for magazines like Computer Merchandiser that devoted themselves to "the channel."
Back then "the channel" meant retail stores in strip malls. Today it means salesmen coming to your office, and offices filled with programmers, with perhaps a warehouse on the edge of town. (It can also mean a guy in his own car, with hardware in his garage.) Still, the channel is the channel. RedHat is setting its sales for the channel.
Barr said RedHat now has about 500 "channel partners."These are companies taking the RedHat stack and building solutions with them," which they then sell as systems. This is 60% of the company's business.
Until today "It was package with hardware and go." It was basically a distribution business.
But with JBOSS' middleware, this can get deeper, richer, bigger. "Now we're going to application developers, who make money on customization." The company can even target hardware OEMs who write applications to JBOSS and run them on RedHat, transparent to the user.
RedHat is calling its combination the RedHat Application Stack. Barr noted this comes just 100 working days after the merger of RedHat and JBOSS. He said it's record speed for getting an acquisition integrated into the product line, ready for the channel.
We'll see how the channel feels about that.