1999 Red Hat (R), Inc., the leading provider of open source Linux-based operating
system (OS) solutions (>65% of market) and Compaq Computer Corp. today expanded
their strategic partnership to provide call center support for worldwide users
of the Official Red Hat Linux OS.
Under the agreement,
Compaq's Customer Services organization, which serves hundreds of thousands
of organizations in more than 100 countries worldwide, will escalate the most
advanced support issues to Red Hat's services and support organization. As Compaq
modifies and optimizes the Red Hat Linux OS during the support process, Red
Hat will evaluate and test these changes, make them available in future revisions
of the OS and deliver them freely to the entire open source community under
the GNU General Public License (GPL).
Linux has been
gaining market share and momentum, and this announcement adds to its credibility
as an alternative enterprise OS. Compaq and the other major Wintel vendors already
ship Linux on their systems; we expect the others to follow suit with support
will lead to Linux market share growth, although it should not affect the growth
of the enterprise OS market as a whole. The relationship between Compaq and
Red Hat started earlier this year, including an equity investment by Compaq
in Red Hat, as well as a component of joint marketing, development, and certification.
should also increase Linux's visibility on Microsoft's radar screen not that
Microsoft hasn't already tried to respond (e.g. the infamous "Linux myths" tract).
This alliance will provide Red Hat and Linux with increased "protection" although
perhaps only short-term - against the continuing Microsoft onslaught.
benefit by having Compaq's strong service and support organization backing up
Linux. Although the agreement does not include other Linux vendors, this action
should encourage other vendors, both hardware and software, to form relationships
of this nature. In addition, users who have wanted to run Linux, but had concerns
about industry support, should be less worried about Linux's future. This also
allows customers without large internal support organizations to consider Linux
not overtake Windows NT within the next two years (even if it does somehow maintain
its near-200% annual growth rate). However, we believe Linux will continue to
be in the "top three" in market share of shipping Oses. We also believe this
announcement will allow Red Hat to increase its percentage of the Linux market.
Overall, this is positive for current and potential Red Hat Linux users.