Red Hat: Holding Its Own and Fueling Open Source Innovation

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When IBM acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in 2019, it was considered the industry’s largest software acquisition. The synergy between the two companies led them to become one of the leading hybrid multi-cloud providers globally.

In most acquisitions, the acquired entity sometimes loses momentum and sheds some of its original luster. This does not seem to be the case with Red Hat.

Distinct Identity
“I would define it as a separate company and that’s how we run it,” affirms Paul Cormier, President & CEO of Red Hat, who is credited with conceptualizing the company’s open hybrid cloud platform.

“We set our own strategy, we set our own road maps. It’s completely up to us. We have stayed as a self-contained company. Red Hat still has all the pieces to be a separate company: its own Engineering, product lines, back office, HR, Legal, and Finance. It’s very much like VMware is to Dell, or LinkedIn is to Microsoft,” he explains.

Cormier believes it’s important to have separate identities for partner ecosystems to thrive.

“We are talking about integrating Arc with OpenShift. IBM didn’t even know this was happening as we had kept it confidential,” he says.

Microsoft’s Azure Arc is a management tool for hybrid cloud application infrastructures, while OpenShift is a family of containerization software developed by Red Hat.

“We’re big on Intel platforms. We’re also big on IBM Z, IBM I, IBM P. Since we support Intel in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (REL), we know their road maps long before they’re implemented.  However, we have to show Intel that we would not give away their secrets to IBM. This is the most important reason that we must remain separate so that those partner ecosystems remain,” he says.

Linux: The Innovation Engine
Cormier points out that what makes Red Hat very unique is its completely open-source software development model.

“That’s our development model. Open source is not a thing — it’s an action,” he says.

Underlining the importance of Linux, he explains that “Linux went by Unix a long time ago in terms of features, function, and performance. However, Linux was so available that eventually, it became the innovation engine. All the technologies today — on the infrastructure and the development side, on the tools side — they are all built-in and around Linux. OpenShift is still a Linux platform. Its containers are Linux. All the innovation is now around that.”

Cormier is also confident of meeting the demand of customers adopting hybrid cloud.

“For us, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 20% on-premise, 20% in the cloud and 80% on-premise, or 60/40 or 50/50 — it’s still a hybrid world. I can’t predict if the COVID thing is going to push people to the cloud more quickly or more slowly, but we don’t care. It doesn’t matter. For us, it’s the same value proposition,” he avers.

Virtualization meets Kubernetes 
Red Hat is now working on bringing VMs into the Kubernetes architecture.

“As opposed to some of our competitors that are trying to bring containers back to their world, we’re moving in the other direction. We are working on advanced cluster management on Kubernetes. As customers increasingly go hybrid, having OpenShift with containers running in different places will help them easily manage across clusters,” Cormier says.

“We’re also focusing on telco 5G use cases on the OpenShift platform. We’re doing a lot of work with Verizon and the other telcos,” he adds.