Open source software has had a hit-and-miss relationship with channel partners. Major initiatives from Tech Data and Synnex, for instance, have done little to ignite reseller enthusiasm for open source email, ERP, CRM and other applications. So, how will open source march forward with resellers? The VAR Guy has some new insights to share.

First, let's explore what went wrong. Synnex and Red Hat launched the Open Source Channel Alliance amid much fanfare in 2009. But the alliance was surprisingly silent in 2010, and completely silent so far in 2011. Similarly, Tech Data launched the Open Tech initiative in late 2009. That effort also has gone mostly silent.

Among the challenges facing open source in the IT channel:
  • The market for open source business applications is too fragmented, with multiple small players competing in email, CRM, ERP and so on.
  • Small open source companies lacked the time, financial resources and focus to build channel pipelines with distributors.
  • The cloud came along, shifting a lot of attention from on-premise open source to cloud-based everything.

Signs of Hope

Still, open source has enjoyed anecdotal success in the channel.
So what's next? How about open source companies plugging into distributors' cloud strategies. That's a real possibility, The VAR Guy believes. Earlier this week, Tech Data VP Stacy Nethercoat told The VAR Guy that open source companies will certainly have an opportunity to leverage TDCloud StreamOne Solutions Store -- a fancy term for a cloud app store.

In theory, open source companies could have an easier time plugging into the new distributor cloud model rather than the old shrink-wrap model.

The VAR Guy will be watching to see if open source finally catches fire in the channel.