Cloud talent wars move to the executive suite

Red Hat's CTO has moved to Google, and top execs will soon be in as much demand as cloud developers

Brian Stevens, the former CTO for Red Hat, is now managing Google Cloud. This move will provide more cloud leadership at Google, but it also leaves questions about what's happening at Red Hat.

Stevens' move is part of a larger trend: We're going to see more executives jump from cloud provider to cloud provider as the market heats up and everyone looks for an edge. The search for cloud computing talent is in full swing at the technologist levels, and it makes sense that the hunt for executives will lead to the same kind of talent churn. I bet we'll see these kinds of moves almost weekly before the year is out.

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But let me be clear: I don't think Stevens' move means anything bad about Red Hat or good about Google. Individual executives change positions for all sorts of reasons. I've been CTO at two publicly traded companies that were sold, and I can tell you it's a tough job. Indeed after just three years, I was fried and happy to move on. As CTO, you're focused on external matters, such as Wall Street analysts, the press, and speaking events, so you don't have as much time for internal technology leadership as you would like.

Stevens has been at the Red Hat job for almost 13 years, so perhaps it's time to seek other challenges. Google has come on strong in the IaaS and PaaS space in the last few years. But it still has work to do, and I'm sure it's looking for smart and proven people like Stevens to help do it.

As CTO, Stevens was instrumental in preparing Red Hat for the cloud, including its adoption of the OpenStack software for running cloud services. I don't see Google adopting OpenStack any time soon, but the company is certainly friendly to open source.

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