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WebTechniques: Red Hat E-Commerce Suite

Nov 21, 2001, 12:47 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Charlie Cho)
"Red Hat is best known for its Linux distribution, to the point where it's sometimes mistaken for Linux itself (newbie to mailing list: "I'm running Linux 7.0"). Red Hat's early lead in developing a Linux OS that's easy to install and use resulted in the first high-profile IPO for a Linux company. As a public company, Red Hat is painfully aware of the limited revenue opportunities in developing and selling a Linux distribution. No matter how popular it is, any company with a product that can be legally installed an unlimited number of times, freely copied, and resold by others is going to have a hard time making its shareholders happy. Red Hat's strategy is to become more vertically integrated by bundling and selling applications that run on top of its Linux OS and by offering a range of support, development, consulting, and training services. The goal is to make money by managing and streamlining the complexity of an application and offering a single source of accountability for the customer. Earlier integrated products consisted of third-party proprietary server applications bundled with Red Hat Linux. Red Hat E-Commerce Suite is Red Hat's most ambitious product to date in this vein.

The product targets the small- to medium-size business market. Companies in this market need a robust, extensible, ready-to-run, B2B or B2C solution. However, it must be one without the cost and complexity associated with high end systems.

The Red Hat E-Commerce Suite is basically a shrink-wrapped bundle of open-source software for Intel x86-based machines. It contains the Red Hat Linux 7.1 operating system, Red Hat Database, Stronghold Secure Apache Web Server, and the Interchange 4.8 e-commerce server. Red Hat Database is a rebranded version of PostgreSQL 7.1.2, an ACID-compliant relational database. PostgreSQL is one of the leading open-source databases that's staking out the huge middle market between Microsoft Access on the low end and the proprietary big boys who snipe at each other through billboard advertisements. Stronghold Secure Web Server is the ubiquitous Apache 1.3 Web server with 128-bit SSL encryption built in. Interchange is a server application that was developed by Akopia, a company Red Hat acquired earlier this year. A descendant of the Minivend and Tallyman applications, Interchange has been around for more than five years. Because of its longevity, Interchange is proven, well documented, and boasts a sizable user base."

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