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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Take a prime example: OpenStack. Others were out talking about what should be in a cloud-based management suite and [when] VMware came out with vCloud Director, people said they had a lead. But we always believed that things like OpenStack, where you have hundreds of companies and hundreds of users involved in driving the road map, is a much better way to go.

We're one of the largest contributors to OpenStack now. But we were very, very quiet and made no announcements about it until recently because we didn't need to. We were contributing code, we were involved in it, we're helping drive the direction. But if we start screaming that we're driving the direction, A) it's not accurate because there are a lot of people helping drive the direction, and B) that's just not the way Red Hat acts. We just announced our OpenStack product, and we are confident that we're going to deliver the best set of cloud management tools between our own Red Hat virtualization technologies and OpenStack, because we're working with the broad communities to do that. So we didn't get all the press that VMware does by making a big splash, or even other people trying to say they're involved in OpenStack. But in the end, we're the second largest contributor; we're the only major company now that's going to offer a supported enterprise version of that.

Our mission statement is to be the catalyst in communities of customers and partners and contributors building better technology the open source way. We never scream about leadership because communities don't like the idea that there is a leader, right? We're are a catalyst and we're a participant. But we're in these communities with some of the biggest, most sophisticated IT users in the world, which is why we think in the end we deliver better technology. That's what's so important about Red Hat: How we do it is as important about what we deliver.

IDGE: I think what you folks have said recently is that you were the third largest contributor to the OpenStack development effort.

Whitehurst: That could be, because it was around a specific release, and I know in some measures we're number two and in some we're number three.

IDGE: Red Hat is very focused on hybrid cloud. What are the key elements that you think IT leaders need to understand about making this transition to hybrid cloud successfully?

Whitehurst: The whole concept of hybrid cloud is that you are going to have a mixed environment with some public, some things behind your own firewall. That only matters if you can move workloads. The most important thing is choice in being able to move your application. If you are writing so you can't move your application, then you really haven't done anything but created a new silo. Can that application move? If it can't move, all this idea about cloud and sourcing and cheap and this and that, none of that matters.

What we're basically saying is: Write to the Red Hat stack, and we will make sure it will run in any environment on the largest certified base of hardware. If you want to run it bare metal, if you want to run it virtualized, on ESX is a certified environment, Hyper-V is a certified environment. Obviously our own hypervisor is. And you want to run on an Amazon? That's a certified cloud provider, as are dozens and dozens more. If you want to maintain choice, write to an open source Red Hat stack, and you're never locked into us. But not only are you not locked into us, if we're not providing value, you can stop paying us.

We will do all the work and the engineering with all the cloud providers in the same way that we certify an xSeries server on IBM. We do tons of work with Amazon and IBM and NTT and Rackspace and others to make sure that if an application is certified on RHEL, it will run in those environments. So make sure that you write your applications on a software stack that can run anywhere. We're committed to making sure our software stack will run anywhere and therefore your application will run anywhere. If you do that, then you have choice long term.

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