At first glance, Red Hat's biggest rival is Microsoft. But take a closer look and Red Hat seems to be equally concerned about two other fierce rivals. They are (1) Free Linux and (2) so-called low-cost Linux support offerings from Novell and Oracle. Here's the story.

Red Hat on February 3 will host a webcast titled "Understanding the Risks of Free and 'Low Cost' Linux." Red Hat's event pitch is concise:
Join Red Hat for this webinar to learn why self supported Linux isn't a risk-free alternative to a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription. And understand how 3rd party supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux can become a nightmare to integrate into your infrastructure.
Hmmm... what's does all that mean?

Returning Fire Against Novell, Oracle

Read between the lines and Red Hat seems to be countering key Linux support statements by Novell and Oracle. As you may recall...
  • Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Subscription with Expanded Support allows customers to transition to SUSE Linux Enterprise over a three-year period while receiving technical support for certain existing Linux deployments (most notably: Red Hat Enterprise Linux).
  • And Oracle promotes Unbreakable Linux support services -- which allow customers to continue running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Are customers and partners flocking to Red Hat Enterprise Linux support offerings from Novell and Oracle? Frankly, The VAR Guy doesn't think so.

No doubt, Red Hat has financial momentum -- as demonstrated by the company's Q3 results, announced in December 2009. And Red Hat ranked atop The VAR Guy's 2009 Open Source 50 report, which tracks the most promising open source channel partner programs. (The 2010 research report is underway now.) Plus, Red Hat is pushing beyond Linux and JBoss middleware to promote the hosted virtual desktop market.

So far, so good for Red Hat. But competitive Linux support claims from Novell and Oracle seem to have caught Red Hat's attention. Red Hat will return fire on February 3.