Red Hat CEO: We're the cloud leader -- with Linux

Jim Whitehurst says it's not just Red Hat's products, but its philosophy that place it at the forefront of cloud computing

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So when I talk about open, I don't mean it's just cheaper, there are free alternatives out there. I mean open in terms of the road map isn't being driven by one company or one R&D department. We absolutely, fundamentally believe by having users deeply involved and the most technically sophisticated forward-leaning users, in solving their own problem, that's going to lead to better ultimate solutions for our customers.

So when I say that over the next five years I'm confident that we will deliver the absolute best stack for cloud computing, it's not because I think our CTO is so bright. He is, we have a brilliant CTO. But it is because I look at the companies who are helping us drive our roadmap and contributing to that, and it's the largest, most sophisticated technology companies in the world -- Amazon, Facebook, they're all built on open source stacks. So it's more of the approach relative to VMware.

Now, versus Microsoft, Microsoft is a walled garden. It's you only use Windows .Net, etc., Azure is a great way to go. If you want kind of more open standards-based stuff, obviously that's a VMware/Red Hat world. And again, we would actually argue even the VMware world, while the technology stacks look similar, our approach to how we deliver functionality within that is the superior way to do it. By the way, it also leads to dramatically lower costs.

IDGE: Continuing with Microsoft, the company has a couple of major transitions that they have to get through, one being the transition to the cloud, the other around the next generation of the operating system. How do you think both of these transitions will affect the open source market and your company in particular?

Whitehurst: Whenever change happens, people look at their alternatives. The biggest factor I would actually argue that has driven IT for the last 20 years is not Moore's Law. It's inertia. When something's running, nobody wants to change it. So the best thing that happens for Red Hat is in very difficult economic times, when budgets are so tight people have to try new things, we do well. The other time we do well is when there are true architectural shifts going on, because as soon as you're going through an architectural shift, you get to reevaluate your technology. What never happens is an application is running fine and even if this technology stack it's running on is expensive, it's still cheaper to keep doing that than migrating the application.

As we go through these transitions, whether it's to new versions of Windows or new architectures or I'm going to move this to cloud or whatever, that just opens up an opportunity for us as the attacker relative to a Microsoft as an incumbent, offers up more times that we get a look. Frankly if we get a look, if we're in a decision set and a new decision is going to get made, we win a very, very high share of those because we would argue that we have better technology and certainly a dramatically lower cost.

IDGE: So, Jim, InfoWorld described Red Hat as "the hidden cloud company." Do you think that's an accurate assessment of where at least the market perceives Red Hat is today?

Whitehurst: Well, I'm a little depressed that we're considered hidden.

IDGE: It's actually a positive piece about all of the work you're doing to expand the portfolio and all the work you're doing in the community. But do you think you're being recognized as a cloud company today?

Whitehurst: If you look at our relative valuation, I think those people see us a key company underlying the cloud. The "hidden" thing, we've gotten used to that over the years, and again the issue there is because we're not out front and talking about a 10-year vision and road map, we're often not seen as a leader in anything. It's not that we don't think about those things, it's just that's not how we develop our road maps. We work with communities to build those technologies. We're never the ones out there in front because the communities are the ones out there in front.

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