Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is making multiple strategic hires that will deepen the open source company's work with channel partners across Linux, virtualization, storage, cloud platforms and JBoss Middleware. The evidence surfaced when The VAR Guy met Red Hat North America Channel Chief Roger Egan at CompTIA Breakaway this week. Here are the exclusive details.

First up, Egan's role is evolving. Going forward he'll have more of a strategic role -- focusing on how Red Hat's partner program must serve a range of company types: Resellers, VARs, integrators, cloud and telecom service providers, OEMs (like Dell, HP and IBM) and ISVs (independent service providers). The VAR Guy believes Egan still reports into Red Hat Global Channel Chief Mark Enzweiler.

Among the key players on Red Hat's growing channel team:
  • Jerry Lumpkin, senior director, NA channel sales and development: Lumpkin, a recent recruit, has extensive experience building channels for hardware, software and distribution companies. He's best known for his stints at Toshiba and Ingram Micro.
  • Lori Budin, a channel development expert who joined Red Hat via the Gluster (storage) acquisition. While at Gluster, Budin was VP of channel development. Egan said he was thrilled to discover Budin's channel talents when the Gluster acquisition was announced.
  • Rachel Cassidy, VP of global partner strategy and enablement. She shifted from a global professional services role in March 2012.
  • 60 inside sales reps and 26 channel partner sales reps, all of whom are charged to engage and support partners.
  • Next up: A director of alliances hire. It sounds like Red Hat is close to filling that position.
Admittedly, The VAR Guy is overlooking a lengthy list of specific executives who are driving Red Hat's partner program (sorry about that). But the bullets above give readers a feel for Red Hat's growing partner commitment.

Let's Disrupt More Giants

Meanwhile, Egan believes multiple software and services markets are converging to give Red Hat and its new partners new opportunities a few examples:
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), built into Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), seeks to disrupt VMware. RHEV is built atop KVM (kernel-based virtual machine)
  • Red Hat Storage seeks to disrupt EMC on-premises while also offering a scalable path to cloud storage.
  • Red Hat JBoss middleware seems to be getting a new round of major upgrades and enhancements. It's as if Red Hat is taking classic software and giving it a shot of energy amid the shift from client-server systems to the cloud.
So where does Red Hat go from here? Egan mentioned the march for $1 billion in annual revenues (today) to $2 billion and $3 billion much further down the road -- though no timeframes were discussed.

By the way: Virtualized storage came up over and over during our conversation. Channel partners take note.