Over the past year, Red Hat has gone out of its way to expand its user base. Up to this point, however, that expansion has been focused on enterprise businesses, non-profits and small production workloads. But a recent move on the part of the company makes it clear it wants to be the Linux distribution for users of all types.

Red Hat has come to realize that colleges, universities and other academic institutions face rather unique challenges. One such problem is having the budget to build out reliable IT infrastructure while avoiding such things as vendor lock-in, rising costs and non-scalable, unsustainable environments.

Ergo, Red Hat’s academic subscription program.

SEE: 5 Linux server distributions you should be using (TechRepublic Premium)

Historically, Red Hat has offered a low-cost option for academic institutions, but it was only available to degree-granting entities. As of now, a much broader range of research and academia-adjacent entities can enter the program.

During a collaboration with Boston University, Red Hat recognized that “academic and research organizations are key members of the open-source community, helping to drive open innovation as well as educating the next generation of IT leaders.” The company continued to say, “We want the rising tide of open source to lift all boats, so to speak, which means that we want to be able to more effectively support all organizations in these areas.”

To that end, Red Hat wants to help support scientists, researchers, educators and other academic contributors “pushing for the next breakthrough, from healthcare to epidemiology, to climate change and renewable energy.”

That last statement is very telling. Red Hat wants to be there to help science solve the biggest problems the world faces, and it recognizes that those who are at the forefront of such exploration aren’t always bankrolled by massive companies with massive budgets.

This is the kind of altruism IT needs more of.

The caveat to this is the Red Hat Academic pricing isn’t free. These institutions will still have to pay for a license, and the pricing isn’t quite straightforward. The pricing model is based on full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, which are calculated as follows:

Full time faculty + Part time faculty/3 + Full time staff + Part time staff/2

Here’s the example Red Hat offers:

If you have 2,000 full-time faculty, 1,500 part-time faculty, 1,000 full-time staff, and 500 part-time staff, the FTE number is calculated as 2,000 + (1500 ÷ 3) + 1,000 + (500 ÷ 2) = 3,750 FTEs.

There are two different support level licenses you can purchase:

  • Standard: $34 per FTE
  • Premium: $55 per FTE

The site subscription for academia provides a single campus access to the following Red Hat products:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Red Hat Virtualization
  • Red Hat OpenStack
  • Red Hat CloudForms
  • Red Hat Gluster Storage
  • Red Hat Insights

The subscription can be used by faculty, staff and students in both production and non-production environments (within the institution). With this infrastructure these institutions can:

  • Run enterprise applications.
  • Modernize legacy applications.
  • Achieve unified management of control.
  • Improve interoperability between vendors.
  • Build public, private and hybrid clouds.

Red Hat is taking this step forward seriously. This isn’t some half-measure to appease the academic gods, but to enable these institutions to do serious work at a serious price reduction.

The institutions eligible for Red Hat’s academic offerings include:

  • Accredited institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Educational institutions, such as a primary or secondary school, college or university (that has a regularly scheduled curriculum, a regular faculty, and a regularly enrolled student body in attendance at a place where educational activities are regularly carried out).

To find out if your institution is eligible for the Red Hat academic subscription program, visit the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

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