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At Red Hat, we recognize that online services play an increasingly important role in the modern computing landscape. In fact, Red Hat was an early pioneer of online services with Red Hat Network (RHN)–the first robust, Internet-scale software delivery and management service for Linux. RHN first launched way back in 2000 in the heady days of Web 1.0, and has continued a steady path of progress since.

Online services like RHN are a natural fit for open source. Since all of the source code for Red Hat’s core software offerings is available under open source licenses, we don’t have the luxury of resting on our laurels and charging royalties for access to raw technology. The value of Red Hat’s commercial offerings comes from the the services we offer around the software - services like maintenance, packaging, technical support, certification, training, online software delivery and management and online monitoring to name a few.

Now, in the era of Web 2.0, we’re putting a renewed focus on online services at Red Hat. Not because online services are trendy, but because the infrastructure of the web (with some help from open source under the hood) is enabling all types of new services that couldn’t be conceived of just a few years ago.

One example is Red Hat Exchange (RHX), a new online service that will be generally available later this year. In a nutshell, RHX is a one-stop shopping destination for commercial open source software and other commercial software for the Linux platform. RHX makes it easy to research, purchase and download pre-integrated software solutions that incorporate both Red Hat’s infrastructure software and business application software from Red Hat’s partners. In addition, Red Hat provides a single point for technical support of all elements of the software solutions purchased through RHX–whether Red Hat software or software from a partner.

With RHX, Red Hat is effectively opening up the online service delivery capabilities that were originally developed for Linux and JBoss, so that a new set of commercial open source companies can build their own businesses on our Internet-scale online services platform. We think that’s a natural extension of the open source principles that are at the heart of Red Hat’s mission.

RHX represents just the first of a new set of online services offerings that are in the works at Red Hat. Stay tuned for more offerings later this year that demonstrate the power of coupling online services to open source platforms.

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