CompTIA Breakaway, held in Orlando, Florida, this week, was a successful conference for hundreds of VARs and managed service providers. Foolishly, open source companies that need channel strategies skipped the show. Here's why The VAR Guy was alarmed.

In recent weeks, The VAR Guy has highlighted the convergence of open source with the IT channel. Red Hat now drives roughly $330 million in annual sales through the channel, our resident blogger estimates. And there are at least eight obvious ways for VARs to profit from Linux and open source.

Meanwhile, CompTIA Breakaway was filled with start-up companies, established midsized firms and even large IT vendors targeting the channel. Cisco Systems and Dell, for instance, were two welcome additions to the event this year.

Now for the problem. The open source industry generally ignored the event. That was a foolish move. More than 1,200 people -- mostly VARs and managed service providers -- registered to attend CompTIA Breakaway, The VAR Guy hears.

Open source companies will need to reach that audience if they intend to drive sales higher.