Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is an open source company that works with just about anyone – even Microsoft. So it’s not really that big a surprise that the Hatters are drawing a tighter bond with HP (NYSE: HPQ), an existing partner.

At a recent conference, Red Hat spelled out the growing importance of its channel partners: IT service providers on the front lines of the IT wars who are generating an increasing portion of the Raleigh-based Linux firm’s $1-billion-plus annual revenue stream.

Which brings us to another selling partner – just much bigger in terms of potential.

Announcements about partnerships between businesses are as common as pine pollen in North Carolina, but occasionally a deal rises to the top of the pack. Such is the case of Red Hat’s expanding relationship with HP, which just happens to be the world’s No. 1 PC maker, huge server manufacturer and growing IT services provider.

Both are striving to expand its “cloud computing” services.

Make no doubt about it, the Hatters love the “cloud” where they are investing big-time dollars in R&D, acquisition and a variety of product offerings.

The two firms disclosed an expanded relationship on Monday, declaring Red Hat has “joined the HP Enterprise Services Technology Alliance program.”

Say what?

Inside the Announcement

Sensing there was more to this deal than the obligatory jargon and lack of financial details, The Skinny reached out to the Hatters for more details?

Given HP’s continuing drive into IT services beyond hardware sales under CEO Meg Whitman, Red Hat just might make more money through an HP alliance that includes such products as Red Hat Enterprise Linux – the software that runs much of Wall Street – and its JBoss middleware (applications) software line. 

Alan Sanchez, director of global strategic alliances for Red Hat, offered more insight, with Red Hat Corporate Communications Manager Daniel Thompson serving as the helpful bridge to The Skinny. 

“Today’s announcement is a specific agreement between Red Hat and HP Enterprise Services,” Sanchez explained. “The engagement with HP Enterprise Services is a tighter alignment of our products into their services business.

“By becoming Technology Alliance partners, HP Enterprise Services is officially embracing the importance of Red Hat technologies in its traditional outsourcing business, and, more importantly, embracing Red Hat JBoss Middleware as a key component in its application services business. [Note: Emphasis added.]

“We’re honored to be among the select choice of vendors to have such a unique relationship with HP Enterprise Services and look forward to building on it to grow our joint business.”

Three key words: “Our joint business.”

HP Alliance partners are pretty unique, limited to “globally recognized companies collaborating with HP to develop, implement and jointly market differentiated services. These alliances focus on specific technologies or domains, and provide standards that can become a pervasive part of product and service delivery frameworks.”

The VAR Guy Speaks

Having HP as an even bigger ally boosts Red Hat, just as working with IBM and others gets the Hatters’ brand before the eyes of more and more CIOs worldwide.

Here’s what the respected tech columnist The VAR Guy said about the expanded HP-Red Hat deal:

“The move essentially confirms that HP is building a range of on-premises and cloud services atop Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and JBoss middleware software.”

The VAR Guy noted that HP and Red Hat aren’t new partners.

“But the strengthening HP-Red Hat relationship should not be overlooked,” he wrote. “HP’s cloud strategy includes public, private and hybrid components — and those components increasingly leverage open source technologies.”

In the press announcement, Sanchez said HP’s decision “solidifies the work we’ve done together to design, build and deploy solutions in a range of industries maximizing flexibility while containing infrastructure costs.”

Services vs. Hardware

Now that’s a two-edged sword.

Cutting infrastructure costs through the “cloud” (i.e., fewer servers needed to house and process data) could hurt hardware sales.

But HP makes up for that with ongoing service contracts.

Well, at least that’s a goal.

But to sell service deals, HP needs reliable products and support.

“Optimizing IT performance requires strong solutions,” said Greg Robins, vice president for Alliances at HP Enterprise Services. “Red Hat’s technology, combined with HP’s services, provides clients with solutions that enable the flexibility and agility today’s enterprises demand.”

So the deal appears to shape up as a win-win for both firms.

HP Enterprise Services solutions will include a variety “built on Red Hat’s platform,” the firms said.

What follows is a list – again, long on jargon but important for the CIOs looking for ways to better manage their IT infstructure, costs, and somehow keep up with the rapidly changing, ever evolving tech landscape:

  • HP Service Orchestration Manager, designed to create, orchestrate, and monitor Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) services and agile applications blending network, IT and Web 2.0 services with subscriber and application information;
  • HP SDP Service Governance Framework, offering Application Programming Interface management for registration, authentication, authorization and entitlement, as well as rich SOA policy feature, and service monetization that support IT and third party application developers;
  • HP Storefront and Mobility Gateway offers an end-to-end mobility application solution for Communication Service Providers to provide to their business and enterprise customers. The solution enhances productivity by supporting the use of smart phones and tablets with end to end application security outside the office.
  • HP Aggregation Platform for SaaS provides a common foundation for multiple as-a-service offerings. It integrates and automates important service management processes such as provisioning, activation, reporting, service usage and revenue settlement.

HP and Red Hat even have a website set aside for their collaboration:

Just beware the jargon.

[RED HAT ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of Red Hat stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]