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Red Hat Support Continues To Flourish

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the focus-is-everything dept.

Businesses 215

ruphus13 writes "As the pure-play Open Source companies continue to dwindle, Red Hat has thrived through the recession. Its support revenues have grown 20+%, and account for 75+% of its revenues. 'Instead of the traditional strategy of selling expensive proprietary software licenses, as practiced by the Microsofts and Oracles of the world, Red Hat gets the vast majority of its revenues from selling support contracts. In the third quarter of last year, support subscriptions accounted for $164 million of its $194 million in revenue, up 21 percent year-over-year. All 25 of the company's largest support subscribers renewed subscriptions, even despite a higher price tag.'"

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Not Optional (-1, Troll)

mr_da3m0n (887821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865060)

Yeah, nevermind the fact that support is not optional with Red Hat products. At all. The update service requires a subscription. So while the software itself is free as in beer, you end up paying a "license" in the form a subscription to get patches, or anything else from Red Hat to make it useable.

So the fact that people who use the software keep buying support for it is not that impressive. Granted, they could run CentOS if they wanted, but management likes support, and it is not that hard to picture a pointy haired boss refusing to run anything else than Red Hat either.

Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865170)

The summary: Redhat sells support rather than licenses
You: With Redhat, you buy support
Me: Duh.

So the fact that people who use the software keep buying support for it is not that impressive.

Um, duh? The article is not claiming, 'Ooh! Out of all the people who buy Redhat, look how many people buy support!' It is saying, 'Look how many people buy Redhat in the first place.' Redhat has continued to profit during the economic downturn, which is impressive. Come on, man, any hobbyist will use CentOS, or create their own update server, and/or download the patches and updates from another source. Any corporation or government will buy support. But they won't necessarily buy Redhat, in fact, most of them end up buying Windows, right? But enough buy Redhat to ensure Redhat's profitability. Which is the point of the story...

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (2, Interesting)

mr_da3m0n (887821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865324)

The summary made it sound like it was something extremely unique, special, and peculiar. It's not. I was bringing the point that their business model doesn't make them necessarily different than someone just selling licenses, as support is not optional, something that isn't mentioned at all in the summary.

Thank you for assuming I'm an illiterate idiot, though.

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865362)

You can install RHEL then build the updates from the srpms or use centos repositories for updates.

Which means you can use it without paying!

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865580)

Mod Parent up! Great grandparent is not a troll. Summary is very poorly written and fails to capture what is interesting about RedHat.

Selling required support with free software is really not that different than selling expensive software that comes with support.

The fact that expensive software is so well supported is why people pay money for it!

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865980)

> The fact that expensive software is so well supported is why people pay money for it! ...and that support COSTS EXTRA MONEY.

Want Solaris or AIX or Windows or Oracle support?

That's EXTRA above and beyond whatever you paid for your software or server.

OTOH, I can just install Debian on a server if I am so inclined. The only thing that "forces" someone to buy something like Redhat is if they want to run commercial software like Oracle on it. Otherwise, they can use ANY LINUX that management is comfortable with.

Yeah... Redhat is thriving in a recession SELLING something that ANYONE can get for FREE.

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866208)

Umm, Solaris is free. So, of course support is above and beyond what you pay for it.

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866008)

The fact that expensive software is so well supported is why people pay money for it!

I think that's demonstrably false.

Most people use "expensive software" because that's what came on their computers. Plus, that's what their job/school/family uses. Most people who use "expensive software" are probably not fully aware of the alternatives and/or have chosen not to take the time to learn.

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (4, Informative)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865406)

Any corporation or government will buy support. But they won't necessarily buy Redhat, in fact, most of them end up buying Windows, right? But enough buy Redhat to ensure Redhat's profitability. Which is the point of the story...

Well, not necessarily. I work at a shop with over 1700 Unix/Linux servers. Yes, we also have Windows servers, but for applications that are running massive Oracle databases, Unix/Linux servers are still the only way to go. It's true Red Hat isn't the only Linux distro, but in terms of data center servers it's become pretty much the standard with Suse a distant second. There just aren't that many Linux distros that are enterprise friendly, Red Hat pretty much has a monopoly on the enterprise Linux market. So while Red Hat isn't a proprietary OS, it might as well be. Given that we've been replacing our Sun and HP Unix servers with Red Hat Linux hand over fist, Red Hat is making a pretty piece of change off of us, and I understand this is largely true in most shops. Our hardware is primarily HP and IBM, who are making up their lost sales in Unix servers to us by selling us Intel based servers for Linux (and Windows, too). That pretty much leaves Sun out in the cold - we're not buying their proprietary servers much anymore, and they never gained a foothold in the commodity hardware market.

Solaris x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865776)

Given that we've been replacing our Sun and HP Unix servers with Red Hat Linux hand over fist, Red Hat is making a pretty piece of change off of us, and I understand this is largely true in most shops.

Given that Solaris runs on x86 (OEM agreements with everyone), and a support contract is generally cheaper for Solaris than for RH, any reason why you're switching.

My credentials are: using Linux since '93, FreeBSD since '98, Solaris since '01. Personally I prefer Solaris 10 right now over just about everything else on servers (though FreeBSD's Ports / pkg_add is still awesome). Any reason why you're ditching Solaris for RHEL / CentOS? Personally I don't see any advantages to it. Am I missing something?

Re:Solaris x86? (1)

shinzawai (964083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865866)

FreeBSD ports are awesome. I just portupgraded postfix and it broke sasl and therefore broke SMTP authentication.......super awesome. Give me binary updates any day.

Re:Solaris x86? (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865904)

Well, the choice is a management decision, of course. The selection of x86 over proprietary was obviously one of cost. I can only speculate on the reasons RH was selected over Solaris x86.

First, Linux established itself on x86 before Sun got serious about pushing Solaris on that platform.

Second, the x86 vendors, IBM and HP, are probably a lot more inclined to push a vendor neutral platform like RH than an OS from a competitor that also competes in other areas. In fact our RH support comes from IBM rather than RH directly.

Third, Sun's financial position has been fairly precarious for the last decade or so, and no one wanted to get stuck with an obsolete platform if Sun had gone under. It remains to be seen if Oracle will do anything to make Solaris x86 more competitive.

Re:Solaris x86? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865948)

Usual reason for Linux over Solaris is open source software that barely compiles on Linux, let alone anything else. But someone's developed something that uses libcrufthaxx0r.

Re:Solaris x86? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866006)

No. The real reason for Linux over Solaris on x86 is that some of us still remember when Sun treated it like an ugly redheaded stepchild and the 3rd party vendors did the same.

Even now, Solaris x86 is still inferior in this respect.

Free Software is actually in a much better position on Solaris x86 and always has been.

It's like you just landed from Bizzaro World.

Re:Solaris x86? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866116)

Having worked as a Solaris-with-a-bit-of-Linux admin for the past decade, I will happily accept the description of Solaris-land as Bizarro World.

My last job had a mix of Solaris 10 and CentOS. Mostly running on Sun x86 kit, which is now quite price-competitive with Dell. (We had Dells running Solaris 10 as well, as and when it made sense.)

Current job is Sun on mostly SPARC. Lots of fat Niagara web servers. HOLY SHIT THOSE THINGS ARE POWERFUL. Hopefully taking delivery of new 32-thread Niagara build server shortly to replace single-core V210. We'd actually rather Solaris on x86 than SPARC, but of course there's Just This One Bit of Proprietary Stuff we keep it for. And we're basically a Java shop anyway.

I do get to run Ubuntu on my work machine, though.

Re:Way to restate the summary, Cpt. Obvious! (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865990)

' It is saying, 'Look how many people buy Redhat in the first place.'

Alone, that's not such an important statement. After all, look how many people buy Windows. Neither of us would suggest that the fact that so many people buy Windows is evidence of its excellence over all others. It's interesting that the article chooses to use percentages rather than numbers of users.

I think the point that the GP misses is that lots of people are choosing Redhat over other distros because they have support. They're not buying support because they have Redhat.

The point being, and I'm sure you agree, is that Redhat's model, which was a little bit controversial at one time, has proven to be reasonably successful. A significant number of the "pointy haired bosses" started out as greasy-haired Linux geeks, after all, and I'm guess that more than a few of them have decided to go with Redhat's winning formula, which according to TFA has proven to work out well for them.

Re:Not Optional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865272)

Yes, annoying. CentOS is an alternative though, but It does take balls. Redhat probably dont care, centos is redhat in a different guise, but at least it's not a huge competitor (ie suse). Given commercial pressures, production servers should be RHEL(X) to satisfy the top brass, not CentOS. Easy upgrade path ahoy... RedHat can't lose!

Re:Not Optional (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865326)

Parent is not a troll! He has a fair point. It is true that the software RHEL is made up of is free (like freedom and beer) and you can use all of that for free, in CentOS. So you are paying "just" for the support in that sense. But try getting hold of a copy of RHEL without paying someone - it's not like (AFAIK!) you can download it and optionally buy support later.

That said, I had heard (uhm, possibly from a RH employee...) that RH were reasonably sensible about support issues. The particular example I'd brought up, probably on a Xen project mailing list, was that if they only support 4 VMs then they might not support you if you'd been running more than 4 RHEL VMs on your server. But I was told, at the time, that actually the worst they'd do would be to ask you to have only 4 VMs running whilst they help you fix it - fairly reasonable really. So in that sense your contract with them really is just constraints on the support, not on how you use the stuff.

Re:Not Optional (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865696)

No, you can't use it all for free. You don't get RHN, you don't get ZFS, you don't get RedHat trademarks, and you don't get built-in compatibility with VMWare and various commercial installers. You *can* run more than 4 VM's, supported, with the "server" licenses, not the desktop licenses.

You can use CentOS for many purposes quite effectively, and switch to RHEL when needed. I've done that, and used CentOS for testing setups on non-standard hardware. That's difficult to do with Windows, you need the registered licenses.

Re:Not Optional (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866270)

No, you can't use it all for free. You don't get RHN

Well, you can use the software for free, right? But not the RHN servers, so you are paying for that service along with the support contract? I never really understood what RHN was for when I used RH9 and I've never used a real RHEL box, so it's still a bit mysterious to me. But I'd be surprised if you couldn't get the RHN client software for free, even if you don't get access to the servers at the other end.

, you don't get ZFS,

Do you mean XFS? ZFS is the Solaris FS. AFAIK you can use XFS under CentOS, at least if you enable the extras repo: http://www.pantz.org/software/xfsfilesystem/centos5xfskernelmodule.html [pantz.org] You can also use XFS with most other Linux distros, using the same free software.

you don't get RedHat trademarks,

Not really part of the software though ... it shouldn't make a functional difference to what you can do? The trademarks seem to be the main stick that prevents people simply putting RHEL up for free download.

and you don't get built-in compatibility with VMWare and various commercial installers.

If you want / need that couldn't you use CentOS, which is binary compatible with RHEL?

You *can* run more than 4 VM's, supported, with the "server" licenses, not the desktop licenses.

You can use CentOS for many purposes quite effectively, and switch to RHEL when needed. I've done that, and used CentOS for testing setups on non-standard hardware. That's difficult to do with Windows, you need the registered licenses.

The point the RH guy was making to me was that even if you have an unsupported configuration they'll just make you shut down your surplus VMs, rather than just saying "Sorry, not our problem" or crippling the software to limit how many VMs you can start. I think that's an improvement over a number of enterprise suppliers out there! *cough* MS *cough*

On the topic of switching between RHEL and CentOS, I did once read that (for the perverse) it is possible to use yum to crossgrade from one to the other. I wouldn't want to try it, put it like that ;-)

Re:Not Optional (1, Interesting)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865826)

I'm quite sure that Redhat's "support" model is designed to frustrate and confuse.

Before Redhat switched to this model, we could throw up servers right-left and center. Virtualization around the corner, we could sprout servers like mad. Pay-per-incident was reasonable, and RHEL certification desirable.

Big corps standardized on Redhat as a target distro. It was the big American Software Company which looked like it was going to stay around for a long time. People bought in bigtime in development dollars and in the datacenter.

Then the model changed.

Customer: "redhat.com, oh, why can't I download it?"
Redhat: "Buy a support contract and we'll let you"
Customer "What's to stop me from copying it? most of it is GPL, BSD, LGPL or compatible licenses"
Redhat: "I don't know, why don't you tell me? Although there are MYSTERIOUS trademarked items on the disk, and we don't have to say what exactly..."
Customer: "That's BS. I should be able to copy it"
Redhat: "Nope. Trademark"
Customer: "So if I have hundreds of servers, I have to pay for hundreds of support contracts"
Redhat: "Yep"
Customer: "Why?"
Redhat: "We don't really have to tell you, but remember that when you install something, you're duplicating it"
Customer: "I've been a FOSS contributor and proponent since 1995!, WTF am I supposed to tell my boss?!!"
Redhat: "$800/year/server"
Customer: "But... "
Redhat: "oh $350 if you don't want to be able to phone us for help"
Customer: "Ugh, WTF... I guess you've got us by the balls. We can't port to Debian now, bait and switch."
Redhat: "But we're VALUABLE"
Customer: "meh. I guess a quad-core license from MS is wicked expensive too"
Redhat: "Quad? sorry, that's not $350"
Customer: "Fuck me?"
Redhat: "Certinly, $1500/server"
Customer: "FUCK?"
Redhat: "Yep."
Customer: "My boss is going to f-ing fire me for this, WTF?! you guys have totally betrayed FOSS and turned it into a nightmare of licensing approvals no better, no... WORSE than the MS world"
Redhat: "We feel that you should support the FOSS community, we do great development work"
Customer: "I'm a FOSS DEVELOPER! YOU'RE SELLING ME MY OWN CODE!"

The talk wasn't so colorful, but that was the gist of it. Redhat made me and other FOSS proponents look like idiots. I'm not a Redhat fan, I just use it at work.

This little stunt took a LOT of steam out of the mainstream adoption of Linux. I'd really like to see Debian pick up, but Redhat already seems to have had the branding and developer lock-in, and the big name seems to make bosses feel comfortable. They can smugly tell me "see, software isn't free?" and feel much more comfortable signing cheques for $1500/year.

... sadly, explaining CentOS to them is like telling them that I sourced Oracle from TPB.

Grr. The most annoying part is that like I said, Redhat does good work outside their distro... I wish I could hate them. Doing FOSS advocacy and development and being charged licensing fees is like being a philanthropist being robbed by Robin Hood. Robin's a real jerk. We were ALREADY paying and contributing!

Re:Not Optional (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866068)

Customer: "I'm a FOSS DEVELOPER! YOU'RE SELLING ME MY OWN CODE!"

I doubt that most RH users are FOSS developers.

And if the bosses are so smug and too stupid to understand CentOS, they probably wouldn't notice if you went ahead and ported to it.

Re:Not Optional (4, Informative)

ScytheBlade1 (772156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866100)

I'm quite sure that Redhat's "support" model is designed to frustrate and confuse.

You pay per server per year. That's not exactly confusing. Frustrating only in the sense that... you have to pay for it.

Customer: "I'm a FOSS DEVELOPER! YOU'RE SELLING ME MY OWN CODE!"

http://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/linux/enterprise/5Server/en/os/SRPMS/ [redhat.com]
No they're not. They're selling you binary packages and the ability to call them up at 2:30 AM to get your issues fixed. If you want your code, it is right there for you to download without issue.

They can smugly tell me "see, software isn't free?" and feel much more comfortable signing cheques for $1500/year.

The software is free. If they don't understand what they're purchasing, that's their problem, and only yours if you decide to make it your problem.

Re:Not Optional (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866488)

You have a clue, you can use CentOS or any other distribution you want. Your company can't tell the difference between CentOS and something off TPB, and they're paying 1500$/year for it. And you blame Red Hat? Sorry but I'd be doing the same thing and ask if your company would need some extended warranty or monster cables with that. As usual, ignorance costs money.

Our Guy Was Hit By The Crosstown Bus (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866548)

They can smugly tell me "see, software isn't free?" and feel much more comfortable signing cheques for $1500/year.
... sadly, explaining CentOS to them is like telling them that I sourced Oracle from TPB.

You may not always be there.

But the Red Hat support team is a phone call away.

Your boss doesn't like being wholly dependent on his resident geek.

The support contract and the bog standard enterprise distribution are his insurance policy. His recovery plan.

I don't buy it. (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865074)

I know a lot of people who use Linux in production environments and I've not come across a single person who pays anyone for support.

Re:I don't buy it. (4, Insightful)

mr_da3m0n (887821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865102)

You haven't seen a lot of big production environments then. They're more than common in larger buisnesses.

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Informative)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865130)

A large enterprise would almost never deploy something in production without support. For my small consulting gigs I have never bought support. I think you can see where this is going...

Re:I don't buy it. (0, Offtopic)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865566)

I think you can see where this is going...

Yes, we can see that you do things half-assed backwards.

Open Source software, unlike proprietary software, can be supported in-house better, more easily, and more cheaply than via outside support. Large "enterprises", at least those that take proper advantage of scale and hire competent engineers, have less of a need to pay for outside Linux support than your small "consulting gigs" do.

The vast majority of large "enterprises" that outsource Linux support only do so due to the structural flaws of an IT support system designed around inherent limitations of proprietary software.

Re:I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865952)

It's a value proposition. For small-time projects where nothing complex is happening - like a LAMP server - a semi-skilled engineer is just as good as the basic phone support guy. Plus there's always Google.

Have you seen Basic support? Their SLA is 2 business days. They're saying "don't buy this support, your call will merely annoy us." Basic support is a waste of money. Yet it's all that small projects can afford.

For a large enterprise, where an hour of downtime could mean millions of dollars lost, then Platinum Support is a must-have. No questions asked, you buy the support.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865214)

They're either small companies or they'll most likely be in deep shit when things do go wrong. A large company can't wait around for someone to search for solutions on the internet.

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865274)

What exactly do you think the support folks do?

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Funny)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865356)

Apparently he thinks they sit around waiting for things to go wrong, like the typical Microsoft admin.

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865384)

What I think they do is get a kernel dev on the line if that's what it takes to resolve my issue (which is funny because my company has a couple kernel devs on the payroll).
Seriously, they (RHEL) make their living by making my engineering department's life easier. We're predominately a windows shop, a fortune 50 company, but we also use linux a lot... and most of it is RHEL.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865404)

But first they waste 3 days of your time with the guys googleing around. Their support was at a time great and is still not horrible, but it really approaching Oracle levels of painfulness.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866072)

A lot of companies don't want to pay for kernel devs. While getting in consultants from companies may appear to be expensive, you don't have to provide them with healthcare, pensions, etc and most importantly you can get rid of them pretty much the second you feel like it which is not the case with full-time employees.

I've been in a company that has had consultants from the publisher of the software they're using for years. To the point, imo, they could have just hired people full-time and when they do switch software those people would still be of some use but the company does not see it that way.

As proactive as you may be as an admin you don't know about every bug in the system, nor does the developer (otherwise it likely wouldn't be there) and not every company will pay for someone in-house to fix it.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866484)

True, but honestly I think my company expenses their payroll as marketing (Look we pay for devs!) more than engineering...
Doesn't mean they aren't engineers, just that, well, I think they're PR show ponies too.

Re:I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865292)

Right. Large companies prefer to pay someone else (in advance) so that they can wait around for someone else to search for solutions on the Internet.

Re:I don't buy it. (3, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865222)

Then you don't know that many people who use Linux in a production environment with management's approval. Here at New Mexico's Child Youth and Family Development Department, we pay for support. We pay Novell for Suse Linux support (we're a Netware legacy shop), we pay Oracle for MySQL support, and we have 'as-needed' support contracts for other important open source software packages like Splunk & OpenNMS.

So, there you are. I pay for support. But I'm married, so I guess I'm not a 'single person who pays for support.'

Re:I don't buy it. (1, Flamebait)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865250)

But I'm married, so I guess I'm not a 'single person who pays for support.'

OK, now we know you're lying.

You're posting on Slashdot - you don't even know what a woman looks like.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865334)

since this is slashdot, it could be a gay marriage.

Re:I don't buy it. (1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866084)

since this is slashdot, it could be a gay marriage.

He said he used Suse, not OSX.

Re:I don't buy it. (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865340)

Ah, hate to break it to you but the Slashdot audience is getting older, so the joke is no longer, 'We're all single and can't get laid.' The joke is now, 'We're all married and can't get laid.' Please do keep up.

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Funny)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865398)

Ah, hate to break it to you but the Slashdot audience is getting older, so the joke is no longer, 'We're all single and can't get laid.' The joke is now, 'We're all married and can't get laid.' Please do keep up.

Soon a growing portion will be "This page was bookmarked on my dad's computer; what does 'laid' mean?!"

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866134)

Maybe you missed the whole not-getting-laid bit
Unless of course you're insinuating a whole lot of slashdotters have kids that look suspiciously similar to the postman.

Re:I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865600)

The joke is now, 'We're all married and can't get laid.'

snif :,(

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

wxjones (721556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866378)

Next: my Viagra prescription ran out, so I can't get laid.

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

HouseOfMisterE (659953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866466)

Or, "I was a Windows admin in a previous life and now can't get laid."

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866440)

Haha, this is so true! I mean, not for me of course. Except for the being married bit. And errr... hmmm.... Hey! Look! A grue!

On a more serious note, feelings on: did we all become older as a block, and younger nerds hang out somewhere else? Or, it's more a case of the breadth of ages has broadened? If it's the former, where do younger nerds hang out these days? I mean, apart from on my lawn :-P

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865438)

So, there you are. I pay for support. But I'm married, so I guess I'm not a 'single person who pays for support.'

As opposed to a divorced person who pays support?

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865284)

They aren't missing a lot. They have outsourced the entire thing to India and on the rare occasion I did have a question the "support" I got was totally worthless. It was apparent that they didn't even understand the most basic of commands. I opened about 4 tickets and solved all of them on my own. After that I didn't even bother with it. Not worth a damn dime.

Re:I don't buy it. (2, Interesting)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865378)

That's why they have the concept of "support levels." In most cases if you have Basic support it means you get access to their private online knowledge base and a VoIP line to an outsourced guy behind a desk on the other side of the planet.

If you're an Enterprise then you have direct access to a bunch of very smart guys who come buy your team dinner when they're in town.

Re:I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865486)

You've obviously never picked up a phone and called them.... Their web tickets are routed to india sure, but every time I give them a call I usually get someone in America or Australia.

Re:I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865786)

Well, you obviously can't even read, so I'm not surprised that the engineers couldn't help you. http://www.redhat.com/support/policy/sla/contact/ [redhat.com] The 'entire thing' has been outsourced to India? Huh.

Not everyone is a trolling skimmer like you BitZ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865574)

http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1512306&cid=30785704 [slashdot.org]

Utterly hilarious - See BitzTream run in the URL above (after he being caught skimming like the typical troll does).

Re:I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865620)

Obviously, you don't work for companies which need support for Oracle, DB2 or any other proprietary business-critical application that is unsupported on anything but RedHat, Oracle or Suse Linux (and no, CentOS is not supported).

Re:I don't buy it. (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865934)

I know a lot of people who use Linux in production environments and the majority of them buy support contracts from RedHat. There are a few Novell and Oracle shops, and some that apparently buy through IBM also.

I hate when names are pluralized to mean a group (0, Troll)

randoms (194768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865110)

I'm curious, what are the "MicrosoftS" and "OracleS" that the OP is referring to? AFAIK there is only one of each of those companies.

Re:I hate when names are pluralized to mean a grou (3, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865150)

It means "and similar companies."

Re:I hate when names are pluralized to mean a grou (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865152)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synecdoche

How to make a million in FLOSS: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865122)

Upon closer inspection, Rodrigues determined that Red Hat generates the lion’s share of the “Other Income” from conservative fixed-income investments and some equity investments.

OK folks, this is how to make a million with FLOSS: first, get a million dollars. (-Stolen from Steve Martin).

From what I've been seeing with the FLOSS business model, to make a living (gotta pay for health and auto insurance, food, rent, etc..) you either have to be a coder for the FOSS companies: RedHat, MySQL, and whatever other one out there that actually pays programmers; or IBM. They on the other hand, make their money by selling contracts for services and in RedHat's case also from an investment portfolio.

So, if you're some guy all by his lonesome self that writes stuff to be released as a FOSS project, unless it becomes HUGELY popular with corporate clients that will pony up for support contracts that give you an income stream (and have a bunch of securities invested helps apparently), you basically have no chance of making a living.

Can someone point out an example showing me that I'm wrong?

Re:How to make a million in FLOSS: (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865294)

Can someone point out an example showing me that I'm wrong?

You aren't even wrong. To be wrong, you have to make sense. You see, if you are one guy writing closed source, unless it becomes HUGELY popular, you won't make any money. So, what exactly are you comparing open source to, that is somehow different? You try to imply that it's hard to make money with open source coding, but you fail to provide a convincing case that it is any different with closed source coding.

As we saw in a recent article, most open source coders work for companies that pay them. And the other ones aren't doing it for the money anyway. Think of open source coding as a demonstration of your skill, that will get your foot in the door of almost any company you want to work for. Or, a hobby. Not everything in life is about making money. Some people make money, yet still do things they enjoy without getting paid for those things.

Re:How to make a million in FLOSS: (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865646)

You see, if you are one guy writing closed source, unless it becomes HUGELY popular, you won't make any money.

I argue that that is simply not true.

I point you to Spidwerweb Software [spiderwebsoftware.com] as proof. Jeff Vogel's games are not hugely popular. They have a fairly small following. They are pretty cheap, too, and they are shareware, technically. Nothing open or free, though, about them - aside from the demo's, and if you decide to pirate it/use a keygen. Which, by the way, definitely hurts his income... it's an interesting perspective on the whole "software piracy doesn't hurt anyone" thing. Anyway, he can make a living for himself without being hugely popular.

Re:How to make a million in FLOSS: (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865302)

Since when is proprietary software intrinsically profitable? If you want to make a living from that you need to convince someone to pay you money too.

Re:How to make a million in FLOSS: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866172)

"Can someone point out an example showing me that I'm wrong?"

You won't get any examples. The standard groupthink on here, especially coming from student, recent grads and lecturers, none of which have had any exposure to the real world, is that your business model should go something such as:
1) come up with idea you think might work in the market
2) spend lots of time and effort developing idea
3) once your product looks like it might be competitive on the market, then some behemoth such as IBM will take notice and start offering support to large corporates
4) if you are really lucky then you might get offered a job! OMGZ a JOB!!!

4) is considered to be some really great reward. You see, many on here constantly whinge and whine about the man keeping them down, how the PHB's get all the $ while they work away, how the marketdroids (insert whatever derogatory term) get to go on alcohol fuelled lunches while nobody wants anything to do with them. Yet suggest something such as they should start their own business and you will be mocked "how can you possibly compete with the IBMs etc?". Well - if your business model is to give the IBMs your software for free and hope they offer you a job then no, you won't make much money from it. You will keep making your small developer salary still whinging about how the business types make all the $ with your idea. If these same people had bothered to put some thought into it rather than blindly going "omgz i want to offer teh open source!!!" then they might have made some decent $.

To be fair... (0, Redundant)

brit74 (831798) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865132)

"Instead of the traditional strategy of selling expensive proprietary software licenses, as practiced by the Microsofts and Oracles of the world... Red Hat gets the vast majority of its revenues from selling support contracts."

To be fair, Red Hat is capitalizing on the work of Linux developers. They also benefit from the fact that operating systems are complex, tunable, and widely used in business (which has deep pockets). Easy-to-use software written for consumers (rather than companies who need highly-available systems) can't capitalize very well on the tech-support angle.

Re:To be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865236)

Red Hat is capitalizing on the work of Linux developers.

Yes, if only they game something back! This is why I use OpenBSD, because they know what is worth what.

Re:To be fair... (2, Informative)

siride (974284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866024)

I hope you were being sarcastic, because Red Hat gives a huge amount back.

Re:To be fair... (2, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865288)

> To be fair, Red Hat is capitalizing on the work of Linux developers

Yah, it's not like they pay a large number of Linux developers.

Re:To be fair... (2, Insightful)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865304)

  I'm not sure what you mean by "capitalizing on the work of Linux developers" or if that's intended as a slight against RH.
If so, I should point out that a number of the top names in kernel development are or have been RH employees.

Re:To be fair... (5, Informative)

1729 (581437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865360)

To be fair, Red Hat is capitalizing on the work of Linux developers.

To be even more fair, Red Hat employs many of the prominent Linux developers, and is currently the biggest corporate contributor to the kernel. In addition, they're heavily involved with GCC and gdb, not to mention MANY other GPL projects.

Re:To be fair... (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865430)

And one could add that the more people that use Linux distributions, and the more that buy support from people proficient in the development and maintenance of various systems and distributions; the better it is for Linux in general.

Re:To be fair... (3, Informative)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865386)

To be even fairer, Red Hat do employ a large proportion of the kernel and userspace developers for the software they make support income from - they even have a record of open sourcing code that they get from company acquisitions. But they are very much benefiting from the fact that it's easier to build an OS by co-operating with other companies and individuals than to go toe-to-toe with MS (and Apple, not that they're direct RH competitors in any significant way) on your own.

Re:To be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865800)

>Red Hat do employ a large proportion

Please, please, please stop that fucking annoying practice of mixing a singular noun with a plural verb. I don't know which euro-backwards country started this but it's a plague that needs to be eradicated. In your sentence, "Red Hat" is a singular noun. It is *one* company. The verb that would go with "Red Hat" is "employs" (not the word "employ").

I don't know if people who write with this style on Slashdot are trying to sound cool by speaking/writing in some sort of British style or what. It's really fucking annoying and it's got to come to an end. If you want to sound cool by "writing British", go hang out on fmylife.com and make fun of people who say "gas" instead of "petrol".

I fully expect to attract the attention of mods who will mark this post down as a Troll. If you agree that the writing "style" I mentioned above is annoying and needs to come to an end, show your support by modding Insightful.

Re:To be fair... (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865930)

I don't know if people who write with this style on Slashdot are trying to sound cool by speaking/writing in some sort of British style or what.

And if the poster were British? The "were" is in the subjunctive mood.

Re:To be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866078)

The guy you quoted is British, that would explain the "British style"... idiot. That does indeed make you a Troll.

Re:To be fair... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866300)

As an Australian I understand both British English and post-Reagan American so can translate the above sentence for you. It should read:

"Red Hat employs doubleplusgood mofos yawl"

Re:To be fair... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865420)

To be fair, Red Hat is capitalizing on the work of Linux developers.

Others have noted their contributions, but really, even if they didn't? Support is supposed to be one of the approved ways to make money from open source software. Red Hat can make their own changes for their needs, but they can't lock anyone in because those changes must be made available if they distribute modified OSS software, at least with some licenses.

Oracle no threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865136)

I've seen come companies switch to Oracle Enterprise Linux purely because support is cheaper than RHEL, even if they're not using the Oracle DB.

OEL support seems to stink though, and we've all seen the horrid hacks Oracle does to make their database even install on Linux (RPM's you need to install and then remove!) and odd kernel parameter tweaks.

Gotta laugh at the OEL public YUM server (http://public-yum.oracle.com/) which is basically the RPM's on the DVD, not any updates or anything, who would want to route over the internet to get something off a DVD?!

Then of course there's the unscrupulous bastards who use CentOS in the enterprise and pay for one RHEL support contract.

Re:Oracle no threat? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865186)

So long as they only want support on that one box where is the problem?

We only get support for production machines.

Re:Oracle no threat? (1)

archermadness (784657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866434)

We recently switched to OEL from RedHat, purely for the cost savings. Oracle even provides an 'up2date' package that switches a current RHEL box to OEL, and will give a discount based on current RHEL support licenses.

Considering that I've been at my current company for over 2 1/2 years, and haven't called Redhat or Oracle for Linux support, I'm not too worried about the quality of support.

In fact, like a lot of people, the only real reason we even pay for support is so that management feels good.

Support at the basic level... (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865172)

I've been a RedHat fan-boy since RedHat 4.x days and at my place of employment we have 100+ Redhat subscription/support licenses. However, even their support at the most basic level (~$350/year) isn't really "great"... the support rivals Microsoft anymore. If you have a problem, it's either someone else's or if you are already at the current patch level for package-xyz or kernel-abc, you usually get the shrugged shoulder response unless you throw up a real stink.

I think RedHat really shines because of the variety of enterprise hardware support they have; places like IBM, Dell, HP, etc. all really work out-of-the-box with Redhat installations (pending some pretty new hardware that you have to use the suppliment CD stuff for), so it's not like it was back in the day when SGI and even Sun (since they broke into the x86 market) where you need your in-house hardware to jive with your in-house operating system. There's going to be the opposer's that will argue the stability factor that SGI and SUN have/had in regards to their hardware because it was tailored for it and not made to be as bloat as the Linux kernel has gotten in areas to support the mass hardware platforms. Again, Redhat IMHO should be thanking the enterprise hardware vendors for their posted OS support for RedHat.

Not that impressive (2, Interesting)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865268)

While I'm glad and all that they are so called flourishing in the recession, they are getting 194 million in revenue.

That's a pittance in corporate america.

Even if it wasn't gross income, it wouldn't be that impressive.

Also, people seeking a cheaper option in a recession?
Have we ever heard that before?

Re:Not that impressive (2, Insightful)

cliath (978599) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865642)

$194 million for the third quarter of 2009, $650+ mil for the year.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865828)

and Microsoft reported $10.9 billion in the 3rd quarter!

However, that just goes to show that quality != quantity.

Re:Not that impressive (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866086)

At $609million in a year with MS at 10.9 Billion they are producing 1/20th the revenue of MS without selling a single product (where MS has hundreds) while Redhat is less than 10 years old and MS is close to 40 years old.

I'd say what RedHat is doing is pretty darn impressive. 1/20 the revenue of the largest software company in the world in 1/4 the time while only selling support and their product is available for free. Impressive doesn't even begin to describe how successful they are at this point.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866136)

The 10.9 billion is 3rd quarter revenue, not for a whole year, so the comparison would be 195 million to 10.9 billion

Re:Not that impressive (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865820)

That's a pittance in corporate america.

Remember Bob Young's famous quote that his goal for RedHat was not to grow to the size of Microsoft, rather for Microsoft to shrink to the size of RedHat.

Re:Not that impressive (0, Flamebait)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866336)

On the positive side there isn't enough fat there for a useless playboy CEO like Sol Trujillo to turn up and destroy the thing.

To be expected, really. (3, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865270)

It's not surprising that a cheaper product will prosper during a recession; the McDonalds and Wal-Marts of the world are getting boosts from the general attitude of cost-cutting. The real proof of Red Hat's success will be if companies continue to choose it over Windows during the next economic boom.

Still, it's good news. Companies that switch now are less likely to go back to Windows in the future.

Re:To be expected, really. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865412)

Their competition won't be windows so much as oracle. Oracle will soon own solaris and mysql. Rumor I've heard is they'll be pushing 3 distros: Linux + Mysql, Linux + Oracle (express or full), and Solaris + Oracle to blanket the LAMP and DB market. Obviously, there will still be plenty of lamp stacks backed by free distros but RHAT will have have to do something to differentiate.

Re:To be expected, really. (2, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866268)

You're practically answering your own question. The next economic boom will be about leveraging those newfangled 'open source' technologies in order to gain unprecedented profits (because after all, that's what defines an economic boom). In the downturn after that we will both have a very good open source ecosystem and on the other hand a lot of people blaming open source because they couldn't get their profit out of it.

The only problems are going to be patents which, if not eliminated by or during the next economic boom will cause the next economic downturn. Of course then maybe patents will be overturned OR all patents will slowly start to expire causing the next boom (an open-source-like environment without having encumbering patents)

Because they haven't released an OS in 3 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865376)

RHEL has not had a new major release in 3 years. There is no public release date for their next major release.

RedHat relies on support contract because they don't have a major new product to sell.

Re:Because they haven't released an OS in 3 years (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865392)

If the old one works fine why would you need a new one?

In the grownup server world we really don't need flashy new guis or other such silliness.

Re:Because they haven't released an OS in 3 years (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866210)

Actually the release every 6 months 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4. However, these release are designed to maintain compatibility.

Re:Because they haven't released an OS in 3 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866292)

Flashy GUIs are not the only thing that developers work on. Among other things they also add functionality, improve interoperability, increase speed and stability, address bugs and mitigate/eliminate security issues.

By the numbers (0, Troll)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865618)

Red Hat gets the vast majority of its revenues from selling support contracts. In the third quarter of last year, support subscriptions accounted for $164 million of its $194 million in revenue, up 21 percent year-over-year.

What are the numbers for services from Microsoft and Oracle?

Having Redhat your way (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865718)

If you If you're running a large number of RHEL boxes / virtual environments, you could split them between fully-supported RHEL and ones of
the RHEL-clones like Centos or Scientific ( from CERN - Linux brought to you by particle physicists! That should be their tagline ).

That way you have fully supported boxes for critical stuff and save some support bucks with some unsupported clone boxes / VMs.
I don't see a lot of risk here - at least not any more than environments where the Dev boxes are smaller and cheaper than the Prod
boxes even though both might be running the same fully-supported OS.

A slight pre-emption. (2, Informative)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865782)

Linux, which is at the core of Red Hat’s software strategy, has never been a huge success on the desktop, and especially not on the business desktop. Red Hat officials have shrewdly maintained that desktop Linux is not a core focus for the company, but that virtualization and the facilitation of desktop and cloud operating systems applications are.

As I know this will become a polarizing statement on this thread, let me try (try being the key word) to neutralize this quote.

Red Hat is not implying here that desktop Linux is a failure (like it's subpoint headline apparently does). They are stating two important truths: (a) that Linux on the desktop has not taken off as much as some pundits have been forecasting for a while, and (b) that this goal is not part of their overall focus and won't be for some time.

I don't agree entirely with this viewpoint, since Ubuntu and netbook-provided distributions have contributed to its significant increase in consumer presence. Regardless, Linux on the server is where it's at, and where Red Hat has had huge control over for quite some time. Thus, it's no surprise that they are flourishing at the moment, despite the current economic situation.

I don't know about you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866286)

But I bought an RHEL subscription from my primary dev workstation when CentOS's future and general management ability was in question last year

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