Red Hat's CEO discusses the company's expansion to new platforms and markets, and the challenges around building solid business models for products that can be obtained for free.
Red Hat, which bills itself as the world's leading
open-source solutions provider, has managed to make free software pay by
gathering, extending and packaging Linux and complementary open-source
components into certified and supported products that are ready for enterprise
As the focus of IT attention shifts to new platforms, including
virtualized environments, Red Hat has turned to an IT industry newcomer, former
Delta Airlines Chief Operating Officer Jim Whitehurst, to guide the open-source
eWEEK Labs Executive Editor Jason Brooks recently spoke with
Whitehurst, now president and CEO of Red
Hat, to discuss the company's expansion to new platforms and markets, and the
challenges around building solid business models for products that can be
obtained for free.
It seems like in the
last couple of months there's been a real uptick in the announcements and
releases that have been coming out of Red Hat.
Yes, actually, we'll deliver more new products this year
than in any year in our history. It's really a lot around our cloud and grid
computing strategy. There's management, there's security, there's
virtualization-and all the tools that go around that. These are all key
components as we think about grid and application mobility. So there is a lot
going out, but it's part of an orchestrated deployment.
It seems that the
main focus of Red Hat's cloud strategy is helping enterprises build a cloud
infrastructure of their own. Is that the case?
We play a key role between hardware and applications-be that
at the operating system level or the application server level-so we are very
focused on starting out with the end in mind. If you're a customer, you should
be able to run your application however you want to-be that bare metal, on a
hypervisor, on the cloud or as a virtual appliance-and we should be able to
allow any of those to happen.
What we basically have done, and we guarantee: If an
application is certified to run on RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux], it's
certified to run bare metal, it's certified to run on a hypervisor, and it's
certified to run, right now, on the Amazon EC2 cloud.
For us, one of the key things-given that we come from a
heritage of working in the data center with large enterprises-is making sure
whatever deployment model [companies] decide for their applications will work.
Now, a lot of that is work around the cloud, because,
obviously, we already have bare metal and hypervisor. But, [the cloud] really
does look like a key deployment option that our customers want and that in
general looks like a direction the industry seems to be moving in, so we need
to be there for our customers and for our ISV