Red Hat looks to mainstream markets for growth

One of its strongest customer sectors -- financial services -- is getting hit hard in the U.S.

Expanding Linux adoption beyond key vertical markets is an important driver for Red Hat Inc.'s growth, which remains steady even as one of its strongest customer sectors -- financial services -- is getting hit hard by the U.S. crisis, the company's CEO, Jim Whitehurst, said Tuesday.

At a Red Hat analyst event in New York, which was available via webcast, Whitehurst said that although Red Hat does well with "companies that use technology for competitive advantage," mainstream companies that don't care about being on the leading edge of technology adoption are still largely an untapped market for the vendor.

Red Hat has a high market share among companies that focus on technology to drive their businesses, such as financial services companies and major movie studios, he said.

However, this is just a small part of the enterprise IT market, and Red Hat needs to "make sure that we are delivering the commercial capabilities required for the expansion into the mainstream," Whitehurst said.

These capabilities include continuing to partner with independent software vendors and major systems integrators, such as Accenture and EDS, and to help Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) compete more effectively against Microsoft Windows.

Whitehurst said that while the entire market opportunity for IT infrastructure is worth about $200 billion, according to IDC, Red Hat is still a "small share player" in about $50 billion of that market.

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