Placing technology bets in the open source world
During a media briefing, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst had shared, “We want to leave people with the message that with the new set of challenges that enterprises around the world have, open source is becoming a significant part of the solutions and Red Hat is key part to that.”
Container technology, for example. This community project which Red Hat had taken on and productised into an enterprise-grade technology, is no longer on the fringe but quite mainstream in the industry.
Open source works in a way that allows Red Hat to make its technology bets in an ‘all or nothing’ way; thousands of contributors in the community decide the technologies to work upon and the projects that emerge, either capture the zeitgeist of what the next big thing is, or it doesn’t.
Whitehurst described, “Red Hat doesn’t start looking at customers’ needs and then write software for them. We start with where’s the great software and then where is the customer need we can apply it to.”
During Red Hat’s annual technology conference in San Francisco, most of the discussions that went on among customers, their reseller ecosystem and in fact even the media, was based upon container technology which proposes a more efficient way to developing software and proposes quite a bit more.
Whitehurst had gone on to paint a near future that is full of the use of technologies we are talking about today – blockchain, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving… whichever technologies this future may hold it’s hard to determine but Red Hat is ready with participation and involvement and contribution into relevant open source community projects today.
“We gear those (projects) relatively over time, instead of placing one big bet,” Whitehurst said pointing out that in the traditional proprietary vendor world, there would be two to three vendors, and it was usually about picking one winner.
“But maybe the one you pick, isn’t the big player. In open source, there are thousands of projects in the community and they all coalesce into one, so the likelihood of picking the right one is either 100-percent or 0-percent.
“But for us to be successful, we have to manage customer relationships that are USD50 million in size (each),” Whitehurst said, predicting current value of engagements to at least double.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux – the consistency layer
The end game that Red Hat is executing towards for their customers, is the hybrid cloud.
RHEL, the enterprise-grade Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system is key to the hybrid cloud because of the consistent ‘environment’ that it offers for everything else to be layered on top of it, and the most significant of these technologies to layer on top is Red Hat’s Open Shift Container platform.
Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, is Red Hat’s on-premises private platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that comprises of Docker-powered application containers and Kubernetes’ orchestration and management.
Whitehurst said, “RHEL was our first successful product. Its big value proposition is that it can be used with any hardware. We separate our software from hardware, so when it’s time for a refresh you didn’t have to change the app.
“By allowing that (hardware) choice also, we save customers a lot of money.”
If Red Hat were a private company
According to Red Hat’s CEO, “As a company we are out of step with most companies in Silicon Valley, because we actually make money.”
Whitehurst also shared that if Red Hat was a private company, he would accelerate research and development in Open Stack, Open Stack and accelerate more projects.
“I would invest more quickly, and grow more quickly,” he concluded.
(This journalist was a guest of Red Hat’s to their annual technology conference Red Hat Summit 2018 in San Francisco)