When Red Hat (symbol: RHT) announces Q4 2012 results on March 28, the company will finally become the first independent open source firm generating at least $1 billion in annual revenues. Still, some Wall Street pundits worry about slowing growth at Red Hat. At the same time, Red Hat is working hard to push beyond Linux, training partners on open source storage, virtualization and middleware. Will the party continue for Red Hat and its partners?

Generally speaking, The VAR Guy has been an upbeat Red Hat observer for the past five to seven years. During the economic slowdown and U.S. banking meltdown, Red Hat became a natural choice for many companies that were looking to jump from expensive Unix and RISC systems to Linux running on x86 hardware from Intel (INTC) and AMD.

Now, Red Hat hopes to repeat that migration experience in multiple markets:
  • Promoting JBoss as an open source middleware alternative to IBM and Oracle options.
  • Positioning Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) as an open source alternative to VMware (VMW).
  • Buying Gluster in 2011 to push into the open source storage market.
  • Preparing numerous cloud initiatives while also building out a federal cloud partner initiative.
No doubt, Red Hat targets growth markets. Demand for virtualization and storage continues to grow swiftly amid the public cloud and private cloud boom. But Red Hat also faces big, entrenched rivals. Nobody -- not even Microsoft Hyper-V -- has managed to slow down VMware's market momentum. And upstarts like Canonical's Ubuntu Server are making competitive claims against Red Hat.

Some Wall Street pundits are predicting slowing earnings growth at Red Hat, especially as the company's storage R&D potentially grows. But partners should shift some of their attention away from Wall Street. Instead, keep a keen eye on Red Hat Summit and JBoss World (June 26-29, Boston). It's safe to expect major strategy updates during that conference -- linking the overall Red Hat story to the broader cloud computing buzz.