Max-SI beefs up Linux practice with Red Hat

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Brisbane system integrator MAX-SI has stepped up its Linux software practice, signing on as a Red Hat business partner.

ERP-focused MAX-SI has stated it plans to develop a "full Red Hat practice" to meet demand for that vendor's software in Queensland.

Duncan Unwin, principal of MAX-SI, said the integrator had seen plenty of demand from manufacturing, distribution, government and education.

"Being able to offer a comprehensive Red Hat service is highly sought after," Unwin said.

The integrator planned to sell the platform to corporate clients and claimed it had already been involved in supporting Red Hat Enterprise Linux in mission critical environments such as ERP, telephony systems and e-commerce infrastructure.

The signing is the latest in a round of new deals that Red Hat's partner and alliances director Sandeep Chandiramani claims is part of a plan to double its number of resellers in the next six months to a year.

"We are expecting a lot of growth in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and we want to be prepared for that growth," he said. "We had a couple of small distributors and they were really small players in the market."

Red Hat's south Asia-Pacific headquarters was in Brisbane. Queensland was a key market with great growth potential, Chandiramani said.

As previously reported in CRN, Red Hat signed broad-based distributor Ingram Micro in late October 2003. That deal marked Ingram's first foray into the Linux and open source world in Australia. Red Hat also distributed through ACA Pacific.

Since then, the vendor had also added Queensland's Astute Systems, South Australia's Comunet and NSW's Attain IT, Civica, Frontline Systems Australia, Volante Systems and Frame Group as business partneres, Chandiramani said.

"We signed them up in the past seven months," he said. "We want to find a significant player in each state and in verticals and actually aligned with our global partners [such as] IBM, Dell, HP, Oracle and Intel."

Red Hat experienced 100 percent growth last year in Australia and was targeting another 100 percent growth this year, Chandiramani said. "We are just building on growth we have already achieved."

Although there had been a lot of hype around Linux in the past year, Chandiramani maintained that the hype was based on fact. Linux was shaping up as a real threat to Microsoft, he said.

"There's really a lot of reasons. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is lower ... We have been in the business for about 11 years and we make Linux predictable," he said.

"There are 300,000 to one million [open source] developers out there but we put the package through a more rigorous Quality Assurance process and get it confirmed by ISVs."

He pointed to Linux' strength in the server market. Although Linux still had some way to go as a client operating system, it would eventually take off on client computers as well, Chandiramani said.

"Gartner figures suggest that 220 million PCs globally will be refreshed in 2004 and 2005," he said. "It's really hectic [at Red Hat] at the moment, because we've got a lot of people connecting to us, who want to be partners."

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