[nSLUG] Why Redhat is a frontrunner for business environments

D G Teed donald.teed at gmail.com
Sun Feb 25 23:05:05 AST 2007

On 2/25/07, Robert Ashley <rb.ashley at gmail.com> wrote:
> Is it true that Red Hat is a frontrunner for business environments? If
> so, why is that? I see too that in Canada at least, Xandros is trying
> to, or has made business a key target market.
> Whadda they got that the rest ain't?
> bob

I my view and experience it is very simple: Redhat provides a major
brand identity, and indemnity.

Indemnity isn't such a factor in Canada, but in the U.S., or with U.S. lead
running operations in Canada, it is a factor.  If something goes wrong,
is no one at Debian.org to sue.  Having noticed the Dallas-Forth Worth
yellow pages phone book has 110 pages for attorneys, I think that
says a lot about how interesting that is to people or businesses there.

Brand identity is something that works for managers making decisions
based on "business reasons".  Although Netcraft shows that Debian is the #2
platform of web server in the world, managers at the top level of companies
have often never heard of it.

The way I see it, this is like arguing to buy a fleet of Toyota's around
The CEO types are going to be much more comfortable going with one of
the domestic big three, even though any of the Japanese big three are better
for many purposes and lower cost of ownership.  Now 17 year's later, Toyota
is the #1 brand, and if you buy one today, NO ONE asks "why are
you buying an import?".  I expect the same will eventually happen with
Redhat and Suse's brand weakening.   I also expect the news to
get around that what the big brand names actually provide you is
very little (say if you are implementing something like Horde -
Redhat does nothing to make this easier than in Debian).

I suppose a third aspect is that the sysadmin geeks don't get the respect,
because they talk in techie language and get all romantic about strange
OSes you'd never give to your mother, like BSD, Slackware, Plan 9, etc.
These sysadmin types push for their favorite distro for their personal
favorite reason rather than for reasons of infrastructure support.  Once
a shop has been poisoned with that experience and the guy who set
them up has gone, the CEO types don't want a repeat experience of
giving the sysadmin too much liberty and then finding they can't
hire someone with the same knowledge set.

The sheer number of different Linux distros is also a big shock to the
CEO who tries to spend even a Saturday afternoon researching their
options.  It immediately convinces them that there must be a lot
of unsupported and crappy distros amongst the few good ones,
and it is best to  standardize around a big commercially supported
brand, even if one never intends to buy support.

Things are looking good right now for Debian.  The latest Debian news item
mentioned HP has announced hardware support for Debian, putting them right
up there with SUSE and Redhat.  Another news item mentioned an election
system in New Zealand which is powered by Debian and Postgresql.  None of
these things could happen unless Debian was a seriously robust
and well maintained distro, and these events just back that up again.


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