Red Hat to release e-commerce package

Linux vendor Red Hat has entered the e-commerce applications fray with a package it hopes will provide medium-sized businesses...

Linux vendor Red Hat has entered the e-commerce applications fray with a package it hopes will provide medium-sized businesses with all the necessary ingredients for bringing their businesses online.

The new Red Hat E-Commerce Suite includes a wide range of open source components and services to help medium-sized businesses - which are less likely to have in-house Web developers and experts - get everything they need at a price they can afford, said Charles Gold, the company's director of product solution marketing.

Medium-sized companies, which Red Hat defines as those with 50 to 1,000 employees, are often unable to find what they need in a basic, low-end e-commerce package, but can't afford to make the jump to expensive and complex suites, explained Gold. "We believe there is a significant gap in the market," he said.

The open source suite includes the Interchange 4.8 e-commerce platform, acquired by Red Hat acquired earlier this year when it bought Akopia; the Apache Secure Web Server; the new Red Hat Database, released in June; and the Red Hat Linux Version 7.1 operating system. Also included is the CommerceLauncher Web-based configuration tool to guide the installation and configuration of the suite, as well as support and updates.

The suite is priced at $275 (£193) per month for a minimum of 12 months, or for a one-year licence at $2,995. The package will be available from 22 August, but Red Hat will start accepting pre-orders next week.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at research firm IDC, said that the suite is well-positioned to provide an affordable way for smaller businesses to start selling their wares online. "Most small and medium-sized businesses do not have a Web presence," other than perhaps having online catalogues of their offerings, he said. "This would allow them to take the next step."

What has held such businesses back in the past, Kusnetzky added, is that they haven't had the staff expertise or the money to be able to afford trying to sell online. "This would be a low-cost and useful approach," he said.

Neal Goldman, director of the Internet computing strategies research and consulting practice for The Yankee Group, said that by putting together in one box all the tools needed, and by adding services and support, Red Hat's new suite could capture plenty of interest.

"Many organisations don't like assembling [applications] from component parts," Goldman said. "If I was an enterprise user, I'd be picking the same pieces that Red Hat is assembling."

The components are "best of breed", he said. "That's a value and a good move."

Further information
Red Hat:

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)