When Red Hat (RHT) announced strong quarterly results yesterday, the figures essentially ended a recent debate about Red Hat Enterprise Linux vs. Ubuntu Server. Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth recently suggested Ubuntu is more popular than RHEL for some server applications. But when it comes down to dollars and cents, business-centric applications, and partner engagement, most evidence still points to Red Hat as the overwhelming Linux market leader.
Yes, Ubuntu is gaining popularity on the server. But Shuttleworth's suggestion that Ubuntu is winning at Red Hat's expense appears to be somewhat flawed. Fast forward to Red Hat's earnings results and we gain these reminders:
1. Real Revenues: Red Hat is the first independent open source company generating $1 billion in annual revenues. The VAR Guy doesn't have revenue stats for Canonical. But here's a hunch: Red Hat's annual revenues are somewhere between 10 and 20 times those of Canonical, The VAR Guy believes.
2. Business Applications: Canonical over the past three to five years has tried to bring more ISVs onto the Ubuntu Server platform. Some well-known names, like the IBM DB2 database team, have publicly backed Ubuntu Server. But the true server application market leaders -- Oracle, SAP, etc. -- have said little, if anything, about their Ubuntu Server plans.
3. Channel Partners: During a typical quarter, roughly 55 percent to 60 percent of Red Hat revenues come from channel partners. And many of the Red Hat channel partners have extensive vertical market expertise. One recent example involves Autonomic promoting Red Hat's cloud-centric solutions to government customers. In stark contrast, Canonical's channel partner program has been a work in progress for about three to four years.
4. Hardware Partners: To Canonical's credit, the company appears to have a growing, thriving relationship with Dell. That relationship focuses mostly on the cloud market and is worth watching. But Red Hat has deep relationships with every major server maker, and those relationships have been in place for roughly a decade.
Perhaps Ubuntu can catch the next wave of ISVs -- especially cloud-centric software developers. A case in point: Sources close to Rackspace tell The VAR Guy that Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution running in the Rackspace cloud.
Impressive. But can Canonical monetize its software and support services in the cloud? Until Canonical answers that question in a big way, The VAR Guy will focus on the simple facts: Red Hat continues to grow its quarterly revenues roughly 20 percent year over year. Red Hat has $1 billion in annual revenues. And no other open source company comes close. In fact, is there another open source company generating even $200 million in annual revenues? Hmmm... $100 million?
The answers remain elusive as Red Hat continues to grow.