Red Hat has launched an internet-based service to help administrators deploy and manage distribution of the Linux operating system.
The subscription service, called the Red Hat Network, provides update management and customised preferences for security alerts. According to Red Hat, the service will double system administrator productivity as well as enhance the security, reliability and performance of networked systems.
Red Hat Network's launch coincides with the release of Red Hat 7.0, which as previously reported provides improved security, optimised software for higher-end Intel chips and a greater range of desktop applications.
Fiona Phelps, European marketing manager for Red Hat, said Red Hat Network provides a more reliable and useful way to get updates for everyone from set-top box users to service providers.
For enterprise users, Red Hat Network eases pressure on support staff by allowing the automation of mundane system management and update tasks. Also, service providers can offer enhanced services and functionality to their customers through a managed deployment of Red Hat Linux that is more consistent and easily managed.
Jon Collins, technical director of independent analyst Sundial Consultancy, said Red Hat is tapping into current trends towards outsourcing, and providing services over the internet, by offering enterprise management services.
"Red Hat was a CD publishing company with a marketing brand but now its share price is dropping it has to rely on other revenues," said Collins, who expects Red Hat to team up with vendors servicing other platforms and applications to provide a more complete offering.
Peter Lemon, research manager at analyst IDC, said: "If Linux distributors are to survive and not be bought they need to provide services. Vendors can't make enough anymore just by shipping hardware and software."
Red Hat is offering a 60-day free trial of Red Hat Network for all Red Hat Linux 7.0 users, with basic functionality to be added for Red Hat Linux 6.2 users soon. Beginning in December 2000, Red Hat Network features will be integrated with all of Red Hat's service offerings.
Proactive subscription services for individuals will be available from $9.95 per month. Small businesses will be able to receive Red Hat Network features as part of an integrated technical support offering, with prices starting at $400 per year per system.
For large installations, Red Hat will offer service packages that feature Red Hat Network, and options for 24x7 technical support and broad systems management capability from $500 per system annually.
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