RALEIGH, N.C. – Red Hat is putting additional resources behind its recently launched channel programs with more management team support and expanded product offerings.

The Linux software developer and distributor disclosed details of expanded channel plan on Tuesday amidst expectations that it will launch soon a new version of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux product as well as the opening of an on-line “store” for sale of products and services.

Red Hat executives are planning a press conference for noon on Wednesday, but what they plan to discuss was not disclosed.

To expand its sales efforts, Red Hat over the past six months has moved to broaden channel sales efforts. Along with offerings from recently acquired JBoss, a developer of middleware software and solutions, Red Hat said it plans to enable partners to offer a “broader set” of solutions.

Heading up those efforts is Mark Enzweiler, who lead channel sales development at Lenovo before jumping to Red Hat last October. He is primarily responsible for North American sales. In January, Red Hat hired Petra Heinrich, who worked for Linux rival Novell, to lead channel efforts in Europe. The latest hire is Masatsugu Koketsu, who came to Red Hat from Sunn. He is in charge of channel development in Japan.

“Red Hat is redefining value for customers with open source as the enabler,” Enzweiler said in a statement. “We’ve redesigned our channel strategy in close collaboration with global partners in an effort to dial partners into the rapid growth opportunities for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform, JBoss middleware solutions, management and services.”

Red Hat is counting on the strategy to help increase market share for Linux and Red Hat products. The Linux business was recently estimated to be worth more than $40 billion by 2010, nearly triple the $15 billion produced in 2005 by the analyst firm IDC. Red Hat cited those figures in its partner program announcement.

Red Hat’s expanded channel efforts include the partner program, a certified service provider offering, enhanced Red Hat partner portal and a Red Hat subscription center.

A Triangle-based company, InCentric Solutions, is one of the first certified service provider members.

One way Red Hat intends to help its partners is through subscription support, telling them when customers are due to renew Red Hat subscriptions. In an interview with Computer Reseller News, Enzweiler said partners could continue to book renewals or hand that over to Red Hat and receive a fee.

"What we have been doing since last April in the U.S. is collecting end-user data from our distribution points and partners,” Enzweiler told CRN. “Renewals are critical, and it’ not something partners have the back office to do. They’re eligible to do renewals, but the problem is a lot of them haven’t kept track of what they sold. It has been spotty at best, and that includes larger players.”