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IBM lived up to its neutrality promise to Red Hat

Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier claims IBM has lived up to its commitment to maintain the neutrality of Red Hat three years on

Three years since IBM acquired Red Hat, Big Blue has lived up to its promise of maintaining the latter’s neutrality in the market, enabling it to thrive as an open source software company, according to Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier.

Speaking to Asia-Pacific media in a virtual briefing on the sidelines of Red Hat Summit 2022, Cormier noted that from a product and technology perspective, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna had said that “IBM will be biased and opinionated on Red Hat, but it can’t work the other way around”.

“We work with many other partners as well as with IBM. Anything we do with IBM and any type of partnership we would go in, whether it’s joint products, offerings or go-to-market, we would do the same thing with other partners as well,” said Cormier.

“That neutrality is really important to us because one of the things that makes Red Hat so successful is our partners in our ecosystem,” he added. “Working across that partner ecosystem is really important, including with IBM. From the beginning, that was the commitment from IBM and Arvind, and I have to say they’ve definitely lived up to that.”

For example, while Red Hat’s financial performance goals are agreed upon with IBM, just as it would with its board, it does what is right for its business from a product and strategy perspective, said Cormier.

Still, there have been synergies between the two companies, such as IBM’s move to underpin its cloud and software portfolio with Red Hat OpenShift through Cloud Paks, a set of pre-integrated and containerised software.

Cormier said IBM, which has deep relationships with many companies, has also enabled Red Hat to get the attention of senior management at common customers.

“We get the opportunity to go in and talk to customers at a high level on what we can help them with and what we can bring to the table for them,” he said. “That’s one area where IBM has been a very big help to us.”

Back in 2018, industry analysts in Asia-Pacific welcomed IBM’s $34bn acquisition of Red Hat, noting that the deal would accelerate adoption of open source software across the region.

Read more about open source in APAC

Indeed, Red Hat’s recent annual State of enterprise open source 2022 study showed that open source adoption has not slowed down, and even accelerated amid the pandemic.

In Asia-Pacific, 77% of IT leaders said they were more likely to select a supplier that contributes to the open source communities. They also demonstrated a more mature understanding of the open source development model, with 89% of IT leaders believing enterprise open source is as secure or more secure than proprietary software, a big change from previous perceptions of open source code as insecure.

Some 80% also expected to increase their use of enterprise open source software for emerging technologies. The top uses of enterprise open source in the region include IT infrastructure modernisation (63%), digital transformation (52%), application modernisation (46%) and hybrid or multicloud management (45%).

At this year’s Red Hat Summit, the company unveiled a slew of offerings that will address some of those uses, including a set of cross-portfolio edge computing capabilities, as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9, which touts enhancements such as kernel live patching and security features that address hardware-level security vulnerabilities such as Spectre and Meltdown.

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