Move over, Red Hat Summit. In addition to that annual customer gathering, Red Hat is now planning an entirely separate Red Hat Partner Conference, The VAR Guy has heard from sources who wear the red fedora. Smart move. Here's why.

In previous years, Red Hat held a one-day partner gathering in conjunction with the annual Red Hat Summit and JBoss World conferences. But this year, Red Hat is adjusting its game plan. Red Hat Summit and JBoss World are still scheduled for May 3-6 in Boston. But watch for a separate Red Hat Partner Conference sometime around October 2011. Note: Actual name and date are still being finalized, The VAR Guy hears.

Launching a dedicated Red Hat Partner Conference is a wise move. Indeed, Red Hat is marching toward $1 billion in annual revenues. Partners generate roughly 50 percent to 60 percent of those Red Hat revenues. Moreover, Red Hat has diversified beyond Linux to promote JBoss middleware, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and a Red Hat Cloud Foundations push. A well-organized partner conference could allow VARs, MSPs and cloud integrators to more easily connect the dots between Red Hat's growing software portfolio.

There's a bigger story here, as well. It involves open source in the IT channel. A few days ago, The VAR Guy lamented that many open source companies had missed their opportunity to engage VARs, MSPs and other channel partners. In many cases, it seems like cloud computing has stolen open source's thunder. But Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has stated that the cloud couldn't exist without open source.

Either way, The VAR Guy hopes more open source companies wake up to the channel opportunity and host dedicated channel conferences. Oh, and here's one final item worth nothing: Sources say Novell is close to finalizing the dates and locations for this year's BrainShare gatherings...

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