Selling Linux to the channel

Linux has been bubbling under as a technology for a while now, and although it has been a long time coming, it seems that finally open source operating systems may be about to come of age.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 25, 2003

Linux has been bubbling under as a technology for a while now, and although it has been a long time coming, it seems that finally open source operating systems may be about to come of age.

Adoption of open source is growing across the region, in governments, in corporations and in the education sector, as more and more users look to gain the benefits of Linux.

For banks, the attraction is in stability and reliability; advanced users in oil & gas are looking for high performance, and for all users, especially those in the more cost-conscious education sector, the low total cost of ownership is proving to be a convincing selling point.

The necessary skills resources to manage and support Linux are also in place, thanks to the efforts of corporations such as IBM, to work with universities and colleges, and also thanks to the hard work of various user groups that have spread the word about open source, and driven the Arabisation efforts that make Linux a genuine solution for the Middle East.

With such high level adopters as Aramco, Standard Chartered Bank and the Government of Bahrain, Linux can no longer be dismissed as untried or unsupported.

The graduates coming out of universities acoss the region are certified and ready to build on Linux.

But is Linux just an option for corporates, or will it make an impact on SMBs too? The seeds are being sown—eSys is promoting Linux based PCs at a very attractive price point, and is making an effort to educate partners on the benefits of the operating system. IBM has also done a lot of work with Linux and preparing the SMB market for it.

Now HP says it is considering Linux solutions for the Middle East market, not just for larger organisations, but for the SMBs.

The company already has Linux solutions for SMBs in Europe, and now wants to bring them here too. Of course, to do this, HP needs to leverage its main sales route—its channel partners.

So far, almost all of the big deals with Linux have been sold by vendors direct to the customers, without significant channel involvement.

Partners need to be convinced of the value of Linux, not just in terms of low TCO, but also the performance benefits and the add-on services sale, if they are to be able to pass the message on to the customer segments that they own, such as the SMBs.

At present, the initiatives are still in the early stages but with multinationals deciding to drive the open source market to SMBs, then it looks very much like 2004 could be the year for Linux.

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