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Red Hat's Channel Approach: Saluting Success Through Collaboration

Since our very beginnings in 1993, Red Hat has always been about success through collaboration. It's a mindset we apply to the many relationships we've cultivated throughout the open source community, and it's an important and fundamental aspect of how we work with our channel partners. We understand that without those partners, there would be no room for growth or future opportunities. Without those partners and the close relationships we have with them, there would be no Red Hat as we know it today.

This week, as we prepare to celebrate those relationships at our North American Partner Conference, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our approach to the channel, and how that approach has brought us enormous success over the years. It's an approach that's been built on a very strict philosophy and set of seven principals, which, combined with the knowledge and passion of our teams, have led Red Hat to be recognized numerous times by publications like CRN for our channel leadership.

1. Embrace and understand that our success is directly tied to our partner relationships. You don't get to become the world's first $1 billion revenue open source software company by going it alone. We depend on our partners, just as much as they depend on us, and our successes are deeply intertwined, which makes close collaboration extremely important. In fact, our partners have been, and will continue to be a major factor in Red Hat's growth and reason why we're considered the leader in open source software.

2. Select partners based on synergies, and always choose quality over quantity. It's not about having the largest list of channel partners. It's about selecting the partners that offer complementary services to the products we have to offer, and making sure that those partners are the very best at delivering solutions to the market.

3. Maintain a clear and consistent strategy. Our approach to working with our channel partners has always been about finding the best avenues through which to get our products into the hands of customers. It's a simple strategy that allows both Red Hat and our partners to enjoy success, and we've never wavered from this approach.

4. Be business plan driven. We work closely with each of our partners to outline attainable goals and create a roadmap to achieve our objectives.

5. Make it easy to work with us. In the spirit of collaboration and openness, we focus on eliminating any potential roadblocks so as to make it as easy as possible for our partners to work with us.

6. Always provide excellent enablement and support. I'm not just referring to collateral, although being able to provide partners with the necessary materials to succeed is important. I'm also talking about delivering other solutions that bolster our collaborative efforts, including the provision of extensive training programs, our Test Drives on Amazon Web Services initiative, the Red Hat Online Partner Enablement Network (OPEN), and more.

7. Maintain a maniacal focus on the competition. We are always keeping a close eye on what our competition is up to. This unflagging focus on the overall marketplace provides us with crucial intelligence that allows us to help our partners maintain an advantage in selling Red Hat solutions to their customers.

All of these points have helped strengthen Red Hat's partner ecosystem over the past few years. Partner bookings made up about 54 percent of Red Hat's overall bookings in 2009 (FY2009). That percentage grew to 68 percent in 2014 (FY2015).

While those numbers provide some historical perspective of how our channel relationships have added fuel to Red Hat's fire, we believe that the future looks even brighter. Over the next couple of years, we anticipate that our channel organization will continue to be the engine for Red Hat's new customer acquisitions. We plan to drive scale and efficiency while improving and optimizing our partner mix and enabling those partners to establish open source practices. All of this will be driven by our focus on delivering market leading and innovative technologies, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, OpenShift, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and more.

The new world of IT, with a strong base of open source software, will serve as our catalyst. Only a few short years ago, open source was considered a hobby, or something to be wary of; now, it's being embraced by enterprises around the globe as a solution for more agile and flexible business practices. Open source provides these organizations with dynamic applications that scale to meet demand, and the ability to meet compressed innovation cycles. It's offered them a competitive advantage because it allows them to develop and launch applications faster.

Red Hat and our partners are at the forefront of this amazing movement. By collaborating, we can provide businesses with the innovative tools they need to move forward. In turn, we expect to also move forward – toward the future, in lock-step with our valued partners.