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Red Hat CEO weighs in on hybrid cloud play

Jim Whitehurst claims Red Hat’s ability to support an entire technology stack is valuable to enterprises that want a common platform on-premise and in the cloud

Cloud suppliers that provide an “outpost” of their cloud offerings on-premise are locking their customers into their platforms, according to Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst.

Without making direct reference to Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS), which all allow their customers to operate some form of their cloud services in private datacentres, Whitehurst said these cloud suppliers are ultimately building a bridge to their clouds.

“One can say that’s hybrid, but I don't think that’s value-adding,” he said in response to media queries on hybrid cloud models on the sidelines of Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston. “It’s locking people into one cloud.”

Whitehurst pointed a second way in which cloud suppliers are providing visibility of workloads running across multiple clouds through management tools such as Anthos, which a top Google executive has hailed as Linux for the cloud.

“Red Hat’s strategy is very much to be able run literally the same infrastructure across every public cloud, virtualised or bare metal,” he said. “We’re trying to create a homogeneous, standardised single infrastructure that you build your applications on and run everywhere.”

Whitehurst said Red Hat’s hybrid cloud play is different from others in the market, mainly because of its Linux heritage, which enables it to support an entire technology stack, from hardware through to applications.

He noted that VMware, for example, may provide infrastructure components, but it does not touch the application layer, while “the clouds are doing their cloud thing”.

I couldn’t have been more happy with the acquisition of Red Hat. The team has done a fantastic job. We know the job they do for clients and I’m extremely respectful of that. I don’t have a death wish for $34bn – I’m not buying them to destroy them.
Ginni Rometty, IBM

“We’re really the only company that has the capability to deliver literally the same bits across our model, and that’s incredibly valuable because it allows people to have a common platform,” he said.

According to Gartner, the growth of cloud infrastructure services and the decline of traditional datacentre outsourcing are driving a massive shift towards hybrid infrastructure services.

The technology research firm has predicted that 90% of organisations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities by 2020.

Whitehurst was also upbeat on the adoption of open source software in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, which has seen rapid growth in the number of new Linux and open source workloads – more so than in the US.

“The share of workloads that run on open source software is much higher in Asia, and we’re seeing a lot of contributions to open source projects from Asia,” he said.

CIOs and industry analysts have noted that the adoption of open source software in APAC is likely to accelerate when the $34bn mega deal between IBM and Red Hat is completed.

Eugene Yeo, CIO of broadband and mobile service provider MyRepublic, said Red Hat will be able to leverage IBM’s resources and footprint in enterprise IT to further solidify its leadership in open source software.

Read more about open source

Agreeing, Vernon Turner, executive analyst at technology advisory firm Ecosystm, said the open source side is “good for everyone in the APAC region”, but noted that the acquisition also showed that IBM’s cloud business was under pressure from AWS, Google and Alibaba Cloud.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said during a keynote session that the Red Hat acquisition is a win for clients, and comes at a time when organisations are looking for open platforms that will enable them to innovate across public and private clouds.

Noting that Red Hat has built a “wonderful culture about being open”, Rometty said both IBM and Red Hat teams work well together, but what binds them together is their common mission to scale the use of open source software.

“That’s a great place to start from, but the next thing is for Red Hat to stay as an independent unit and there are great reasons for that,” Rometty said to applause from the audience, noting that having a platform that invites innovation from everyone is key to achieving broader adoption of open source technologies.

“I couldn’t have been more happy with the acquisition of Red Hat,” she said. “The team has done a fantastic job. We know the job they do for clients and I’m extremely respectful of that. I don’t have a death wish for $34bn – I’m not buying them to destroy them.”

Next Steps

Whitehurst out as IBM president amid executive changes

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