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Red Hat has announced a major expansion of its global partner programs, including new channel programs to help increase collaboration between Red Hat and its partners around the world. Red Hat’s JBoss middleware products will feature largely in these greater partnerships.

For the past six months, Red Hat has been bulking up its global staff in preparation for this development. In October 2006, the company lured Mark Enzweiler, former channel leader at Lenovo, away to head up its North American channel sales. Petra Heinrich left Novell to develop Red Hat’s European channel in January of this year. And former Sun executive Masatsugu Kogetsu came on board last month to lead channel development at the Red Hat Japan Team.

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“We’ve redefined our channel strategy in close collaboration with global partners in an effort to dial partners into the rapid growth opportunities” projected for Linux, says Enzweiler, vice president of channel sales at Red Hat. Indeed, the research house IDC stated in a December 2005 study that the growth opportunity for Linux hardware, software and operating system services could increase from $15 billion in 2005 to over $40 billion by the year 2010. “Customers will benefit from streamlined processes that will make open-source technology” easier than ever, and will “have more choices for efficient procurement.”

The broader partner channel consists of four main steps, which Red Hat says will soon be available worldwide.

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