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Red Hat Inc. (NYSE:RHT), the biggest seller of open-source Linux software, said it plans to move most of its software and storage products to the open-source community to speed progress for cloud applications by global enterprises.

The company said that by later this year its products will be compatible with the Apache Hadoop development community to use for writing applications for “big data” worldwide. The idea is to make it easier for companies to manage structured data in traditional databases and unstructured data so that it can be used and analyzed.

“Our products are ripe for what open source software brings to the table,” said Ranga Rangachari, general manager of Red Hat’s storage business unit. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company plans to announce partnerships with major enterprises and systems integrators later this year.

Red Hat’s embrace of the Apache Hadoop open-source community poses a challenge to the largest database developers, Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Germany’s SAP (NYSE:SAP), which battle for contracts and market share and have also targeted the “big data” sector.

Analysts at market researcher IDC estimate "big data" applications will mushroom to $23.8 billion from only $6 billion in 2011.

Rangachari said Red Hat believes its principal customers in the financial, insurance, retail and entertainment sectors are most interested in “big data” and his company will design some cloud-based programs in the public cloud and then will bring them in-house for further development.

The company’s software, including JBoss Middleware, will allow customers to do just that, without having to rewrite applications and spend extra money, the executive said.

Often, an enterprise might offer a cloud-based service through (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s Amazon Web Services as a test before deciding to develop the service more internally, Rangachari said. Ease of use should speed development.

“‘Big data’ could be one of the killer apps of the open hybrid cloud,” Rangachari said.

In December, Red Hat acquired private ManageIQ Inc. for $104 million. The Mawhah, N.J.-based company is a cloud specialist that has designed software management systems that complement Red Hat’s CloudForms product. The software allows companies to manage and access data stored on worldwise server farms.

Shares of Red Hat rose 52 cents to $54.46 in Wednesday trading. Shares of Oracle fell 3 cents to $35.38.