Red Hat CEO: We don't need Microsoft to succeed

Jim Whitehurst also explains why he sees a grim future for desktop Linux even as the open source OS gains importance

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InfoWorld: Canonical is at looking at Linux for mobile devices. Does Red Hat have a Linux mobile OS strategy?

Whitehurst: No. That's not an area we see that makes a lot of sense for us. We're an enterprise software company. You're either consumer or enterprise. We're enterprise. And so the client device market is difficult in that there is obviously a patent thicket that I don't care to get in the middle of on that side -- Android, iPhone, all that. But second, I'm not sure what our scalable value proposition would be. Why would Samsung want to pay us $100 million to provide its handset OS when it can do so itself? Our enterprise model just doesn't work on client devices.

InfoWorld: What's Red Hat's cloud story?

Whitehurst: Our products are all over most of the major cloud providers. We're the largest contributor to OpenStack. We passed Rackspace in the last release, Grizzly. We've been pretty open that we will release a full enterprise product of OpenStack later this year. We intend to be the Red Hat of OpenStack.

InfoWorld: What kinds of improvements are planned for the future for Red Hat?

Whitehurst: We continue to add features around amount of memory you can address, scalability, how it works in virtual environments. Over time, we've continued to add things like clustering and multitasking.

InfoWorld: I've been hearing about open source for years now. Where does it go from here?

Whitehurst: The big inflection point has been that almost any new things happening in technology are happening in open source first because of the Web companies. Everything happening in big data is happening in open source. Virtually everything happening in software-defined networking is happening in open source. It's just all of those major problems that Web companies are running into first, they solve in open source.

InfoWorld: Do you see a need for patent reform in terms of open source, or is this just something that just keeps going on and never really gets solved?

Whitehurst: I think I speak for the entire software industry that software patents are a bad thing. The entire software industry has been aggressively promoting a position that says software shouldn't be patentable. It gets tied up with, obviously, the pharmaceutical industry, which believes patents are necessary to drive innovation in pharmaceuticals, and it continues to go around and around and we make some progress here and there. Hopefully it gets solved someday, but I don't think we're close to it.

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