Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

by Don Marti

Editors' Note: The following article is the text of the January 23rd issue of ATC, Don Marti's bi-weekly newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter on the LJ home page.

Red Hat plans to introduce a new version of its Linux distribution to fill the price and support gap between the inexpensive Red Hat Linux (CK!) and the high-end Red Hat Advanced Server, said marketing VP Mark de Visser at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo on Wednesday.

Red Hat Advanced Server is priced between $800 and $2,500 per year, depending on the level of support. The new product, with a yet unannounced name, will be priced between $300 and $400 for lower levels of support and at $1,200 for the higher levels, business-hours only. The fastest response times and 24x7 support will continue to be reserved for Advanced Server.

Meanwhile, de Visser says Linux desktop deployments are only for some customers now--those with both a skilled IS department and a good-sized pool of locked-down application users. "We have seen uptake in call centers and trading rooms", he said. But in other companies, "People have tried to deploy Linux desktop and run into some roadblocks."

The three biggest roadblocks, de Visser said, are interoperability with proprietary mail servers, a need for easy mass installs and upgrades and browser compatibility for web-based applications. "When those pieces fall into place, we will have the corporate desktop", he said.

The corporate desktop has to come before the home version, de Visser predicted. Corporate desktop deployments mean vendors will create device drivers for products such as printers.

Oracle, BEA and the Lotus Domino group at IBM are now recommending Red Hat Advanced Server for Linux customers running their applications, de Visser said. Where security updates for Advanced Server are concerned, "we're now so deeply integrated that they know just as fast as we do."

Since starting at Red Hat, where dog food is every day's special, de Visser's personal Linux conversion experience is working out well, he said. Although he started at Red Hat last year and had no Linux experience, he said, "I now make very snazzy presentations using OpenOffice."

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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