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Free, community-driven versions of Linux don't often benefit from commercial enterprise support efforts.
For CentOS, that's now about to change. The clone of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) Enterprise Linux is now being commercially supported by services vendor OpenLogic.
OpenLogic's aim is to fill a need for Linux users. Despite being built on RHEL's publicly available source code, CentOS is free and does "not include Red Hat support or Red Hat Network or other offerings that are included with RHEL subscriptions from Red Hat," Kim Weins, senior vice president of products and marketing at OpenLogic, told InternetNews.com.
OpenLogic's support for CentOS is the first time the company has supported an entire Linux operating system. Even though the company is new to OS support, Weins said OpenLogic is already familiar with the challenges, owing to its support for some 500 other open source projects.
"One of the biggest issues is that customers often report issues with one open source project and we end up determining that the problem is caused by a completely different project, the operating system setup or configuration, the network configuration, a commercial solution, or in-house code," Weins said. "Adding support for Linux just increases our ability to solve a customer issue -- wherever the problem may originate."
While OpenLogic does not have a formal relationship with Red Hat, its plan to provide CentOS support still relies -- at least in part -- on using Red Hat's own community.
"We will be combining the same resources that we typically do -- OpenLogic employees who are experts, open source developers, community members and expert partners," Weins said.
CentOS isn't the only clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that can now boast commercial support. Oracle, for instance, offers its own enterprise Linux distribution based on Red Hat.
Target: Red Hat?
It's unclear how Red Hat will respond to the new offering. A Red Hat spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. The company told InternetNews.com in 2007 that it viewed CentOS positively for encouraging participation in Red Hat Enterprise Linux's development community and for broadening the distro's user base.
But now, OpenLogic admits that its addition of commercial support is likely to have some negative impact for Red Hat.
"The fact that there is a commercial support option for CentOS might sway some customers towards CentOS," Weins said.
While Red Hat may be facing the debut of a new rival in commercially supported Linux, some key differences will still remain between the two companies' offerings.
One such difference is OpenLogic's lack of the Red Hat Network management technology, which Red Hat subscribers can use to manage and deploy their Linux installations.
Weins said CentOS customers won't be missing out on the component, though.
"Most large enterprises already use third-party tools to update and manage systems," she said. "They want to continue to use those tools with CentOS."
There are also plenty of similarities in the two companies' support offerings. Weins added that OpenLogic will offer service-level agreement (SLA) support as well as indemnification against legal threats.
Indemnification, which Red Hat also offers for its subscribers, first rose to prominence thanks to SCO's lawsuits against Linux vendors and customers.
Years later, indemnification still remains an important must-have for some users, in large part because the threat of legal action against Linux isn't dead. Microsoft has stated that open source software infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property patents, though it's taken no action as of yet.
Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.