Red Hat's support partner Cybersource is attempting to develop Linux's position in the Australian channel with the creation of a Linux referral service aimed at resellers, VARs and system integrators.
As a long-term proponent of Linux, Cybersource is taking advantage of the current euphoria surrounding the operating system to establish a support program and information service that initially aims to demystify Linux and suggest ways the channel can penetrate this profitable frontier.
Cybersource's managing director, Con Zymaris, explains "this referral service standardises our response to enquiries about Linux. It puts information out there, and resellers can fire off any kind of questions they have, while we can get an idea of who is asking the questions." Claiming to already have a few hundred pointers on its referral Web site, Zymaris is anticipating that Linux in general, and this service in particular, will soon explode and resellers will eventually be able to "contact the equivalent of a Microsoft help and support service".
This prediction is backed up by the practicalities of the program, which include delivery and access to Linux information via a Web site, e-mail and phone. This allows resellers to determine sources for add-on software, hardware drivers and gives pointers in an era of service orientation on how a reseller can focus on its value-adding potential with Linux.
"With margins on software and hardware at a tough 10 to 15 per cent, Linux effectively allows a reseller to look at other options. Linux boxes are in general cheaper yet can do exactly the same thing. For example, if a reseller is looking at a situation where he is putting together a $7000 package with NT, Linux can most likely provide the same thing for $5000 because there is no licence fee to pay, letting the reseller provide $2000 worth of services -- all of which he can keep."
At present Zymaris believes there are approximately 100 Linux resellers in Australia, but that figure has dramatically increased in the last couple of months. "People looking at Linux at the moment are mostly SMEs, government organisations -- and of course education is huge. Linux operates mostly in the server and technical realm so it will work more for resellers who have a lot of corporate clients. However, in the next six months Linux will go from being mostly back-office orientated to include the whole gamut," prophesies Zymaris.