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It’s been more than two years since Red Hat launched the Apex Partner Program and since that time we have seen bookings growth and increased accreditations among participating partners. As the name suggests, our Apex partners bring a higher level of expertise in application development and integration, hybrid cloud infrastructure and management platforms across the ecosystem.

The Apex Partner Program was established to enable a select group of partners in North America to build sales, marketing and delivery practices around Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud portfolio, ultimately providing customers with tailored open source solutions to meet their unique business needs. This past year certainly brought unexpected challenges, but we were able to strengthen our collaborative relationships with Apex partners to identify new opportunities and areas of improvement within the program. 

I am proud to report that Red Hat Apex partners achieved more than 50% overall bookings growth in 2020 and increased emerging technologies bookings by more than 66%. In addition, Apex partners earned 202 accreditations in 2020, up 17% as compared to 2019. As we enter 2021, Red Hat plans to continue to expand this program to build on this momentum with Apex partners. 

The industry is changing rapidly... 

In the wake of 2020, a survey of technology leaders conducted by Red Hat found that many organizations are accelerating digital transformation efforts with added focus on security and cost reduction. The same report reveals that security, cloud management and cloud infrastructure are the top three funding priorities in 2021. In order to achieve these transformation goals, operating in a single cloud environment is no longer realistic. A growing number of organizations that responded say that they will be using three or more clouds in the next 12 months as they aim to establish flexible, scalable cloud footprints. Red Hat believes that Linux, containers, Kubernetes and services technologies will lead the way for companies to unlock the open hybrid cloud. 

Additionally, the rise of edge computing and "hyperautomation" indicates increased interest in business intelligence, infrastructure as code and the ability to process time-sensitive data across environments. Red Hat has continued to evolve our open hybrid cloud portfolio in alignment with these industry trends and is working intentionally with Apex partners to deliver consistent customer value beyond the software itself. 

...and Apex partners are changing with it

In 2020, we launched the Red Hat Partner Cloud Solutions Program to help partners design solutions around specific customer challenges and enable broader, faster technology adoption through partner-led workloads. Initially tested and launched with Apex partners, this program is now broadly available to all partners after  the results achieved within the Apex ecosystem. 

Red Hat Apex partner success stories

Apex partners are fueling real results for customers with Red Hat solutions. Here are a few recent Apex partner success stories: 

  • Axcelinno helped healthcare technology provider Experity Health automate decision-making with Red Hat Decision Manager. The company can now use automated processes to accommodate clients’ unique billing rules, saving time and creating a foundation for business growth. Experity now processes 50,000 billing transactions daily in just 1-2 hours.

  • CBTS Technology Solutions has doubled their Red Hat business year-over-year and last year grew net new Red Hat business by 11%. CBTS has invested in Red Hat Training and expanded their expertise around Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat OpenShift to bring greater value to joint customers. 

  • Crossvale worked closely with Red Hat to launch the Crossvale Migration Services Program to help customers modernize IT environments using Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Smart Management and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform. Last year Crossvale was able significantly grow their business by building solutions, selling renewals-based and new subscriptions and delivering value with Red Hat services. 

  • Shadow-Soft increased their overall Red Hat business by 30% in 2020, driven by growth in Red Hat OpenShift, cloud and middleware solutions. The Apex Partner Program supported Shadow-Soft with comprehensive marketing, sales and technical enablement resources. 

This year, Red Hat plans to help Apex partners focus on mid-market customers across all business segments. Mid-market organizations make up 95% of all of Red Hat’s customer base in North America, representing a key business opportunity for Red Hat and our partners. In order to scale and reach the customers as an extension of mid-market sales, we need to lead through our partners. 

Apex partners demonstrated the value of extending their knowledge base across new areas of opportunity, as seen in their successes helping customers leverage Red Hat emerging technologies. Together, we can meet even more customers where they are. 

How Red Hat is evolving to work with partners

Red Hat is going through some changes of our own in the new year. We recently announced that Larry Stack will transition to executive vice president of Global Sales and Services beginning in April. He brings with him extensive experience in partner leadership and has been instrumental in growing Red Hat’s commercial presence in North America - we look forward to the vision and knowledge he will bring to our partner ecosystem. 

As part of this leadership change, we also welcome Chris Gray as our new vice president of Strategic Alliances, which will bring together collaborations with cloud providers, independent software vendors (ISVs), systems integrators and IBM synergy into one organization. I will continue to manage Red Hat’s channel partners and the mid-market organization will report directly to me. These organizational changes will help us focus more intentionally on our various partner programs, partner enablement and go-to-market strategies with and through our partner ecosystem. 

Apex partners should expect to see more alignment to opportunities through the new regional ecosystem executives. These Red Hat professionals will look to identify the right partner for the right opportunity at the right time with an eye towards expanding the partner’s footprint within our mutual customer accounts to drive increased partner profitability and demonstrate our commitment to the Red Hat Apex partner ecosystem.

We are thrilled by all that our Apex partners have accomplished in such a short amount of time and can’t wait to see what the future has in store. In the meantime, Red Hat plans to continue to evaluate the Apex Partner Program and make relevant enhancements to equip our partners with the training and offerings they need to succeed.  

Learn more about the tools and resources available to Red Hat partners on Red Hat Partner Connect.


About the author

Ernest Jones is Vice President of North America Commercial Partners & Alliances. In his role, Jones is responsible for the development of strategic relationships across the Red Hat partner ecosystem to extend Red Hat's customer base. Ernest previously acted in leadership roles at Oracle and IBM overseeing cloud solutions sales and services.

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