Red Hat JBoss Middleware LogoAt Red Hat, Linux is old news. Sure, Red Hat Enterprise Linux sales continue to accelerate. But consider this: The company's JBoss middleware business is growing twice as fast as Red Hat's Linux infrastructure business, according to a company spokeswoman. For solutions providers there are some important lessons here.

First: The VAR Guy has always stated that businesses don't buy operating systems, they buy applications. That's why Novell aggressively promotes its most recent ISV (independent software vendor) wins for SUSE Linux. And that's why Red Hat maintains that its version of Linux continues to have the most ISVs in the market.

Second: Middleware ties together e-business applications that drive new revenue opportunities. As a result, Red Hat and its IT channel partners charge premiums for ongoing middleware consulting engagements. Red Hat has told The VAR Guy that partners earn more than $10 in consulting fees for every dollar of JBoss middleware they sell.

Third: There are profits in open source. But you have to work really hard to find them. Alas, Red Hat is the only open source company that's publicly held AND consistently profitable (in terms of positive net income).

Novell, meanwhile, is showing nice Linux revenue growth but net income remains hit-and-miss. And Sun Microsystems (owner of MySQL) ... well, you already know Sun's financial story.

Still, the open source IT channel is making progress. And a promising march beyond Linux continues. The VAR Guy will prove it on January 14 when he unveils the Open Source 50 research report.

And in February, Red Hat intends to host the JBoss Virtual Experience -- an online event that will solidify the company's profitable push beyond Linux.

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