Red Hat Professional Services: The RH Factor

By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 2003-02-13 Print this article Print

Dossier: The Linux heavyweight has been easing its way intointo professional services. Does it have the I.T. chops to succeed?

When you're a company that sells open-source code, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from competitors. Recognizing this challenge, Red Hat launched its own professional services organization about a year-and-a-half ago to improve its value proposition.

Today, Red Hat's professional services organization is on track to bring in about $9 million in annual revenue. The decade-old company also provides its Red Hat Network service, which offers a way to automatically deliver software updates and to manage Red Hat Linux servers. PDF Download

Sitel Corp., a provider of multichannel customer contact centers, began switching its systems over from IBM Unix to Red Hat's Linux in July 2002. Of the company's 170 servers, 47 now run Linux. Scott Clark, Sitel's information technology director, says the company contracted with Red Hat's consulting services to assist with the initial changeover and the firm is now brought in about one week every three months. Overall, he's been pleased. "There were some early learning curves we had to get over with Red Hat, but it's been a very good relationship," he says.

Cole Vision, a vision-care franchiser, began switching systems over to Linux at its 1,500 stores in March 2001. It brought in Red Hat's professional services to help with the migration and to get its own I.T. staff up to speed on Linux.

Project manager Glenn Albrecht says Red Hat's team created a CD-based install and conversion process, helping to simplify and speed the change-over. The Linux software worked right on the first install.

One challenge for Red Hat: Many companies adopting Linux already have large, experienced I.T. teams. That was the case at Incyte Genomics, a biotech company. The company now runs one of the world's largest clusters of Linux boxes—some 3,000 machines on Red Hat's brand of Linux. Stuart Jackson, director of bioinformatics, did not need to contract Red Hat's professional service despite the size of the project because he had the expertise in-house.

Additional knowledge on supporting large clusters would have been welcome. "There are some deep configuration issues that occur when you get into building clusters of this size," says Jackson.

Contributing Editor
Mel Duvall is a veteran business and technology journalist, having written for a variety of daily newspapers and magazines for 17 years. Most recently he was the Business Commerce Editor for Interactive Week, and previously served as a senior business writer for The Financial Post.


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