Dell, IBM Open (Source) Up at Red Hat Summit

Lorna GareyRED HAT SUMMIT — The second morning keynotes opened with the first Women in Open Source award, followed by Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager of Dell’s engineered solutions and cloud practice; Marco Bill-Peter, VP of customer engagement at Red Hat; and IBM’s Doug Balog, VP and GM of Power Systems.

Sarah Sharp, embedded software architect at Intel, and Kesha Shah, a student at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, won the Women in Open Source award. Sharp, a software architect at Intel, was honored for her work helping women contribute to open source and improving the diversity and civility of the sometimes cliquish OSS community. She is a co-coordinator for Outreachy (formerly the Outreach Program for Women), which helps underrepresented groups get involved in OSS projects.

Dell's Jim Ganthier flashes some stats on stage at the 2015 Red Hat Summit.Dell’s Ganthier continued the discussion, begun in the previous round of keynotes, around moving open-source technologies into enterprises — and not just software.

Dell was the first OEM to join the OpenStack community, the first to factory-install RHEL, and is now the No. 1 supplier of x86 servers in North America. Ganthier says the company is committed to working with its channel to help customers make the transition.

“At Dell, we pride ourselves on democratizing technology,” said Ganthier, referring to the reputation of OSS as not particularly enterprise-friendly. “It really is about customers. What are we doing on behalf of customers? How are we helping them deliver?” He cited the financial-services vertical, saying several U.S. banks are working with Dell on OpenStack, jointly architecting a secure open cloud.

Ganthier also discussed the “brite box” concept, where software is decoupled from branded hardware. Examples are the HP and Dell deals with Cumulus and Big Switch, and the likes of VMware and Microsoft certifying open hardware to run their software. Brite boxes, like white boxes, represent an opportunity for systems integrators to mix and match hardware and software to exactly meet customer needs and increase engagement (more on the concept is here).

Next up, Red Hat’s Bill-Peter made the point that Red Hat sells subscriptions, not licenses. What’s the difference for partners? Essentially, in an open subscription model, anyone can use the software. What the customer is paying for are support and services. Dell senior partner manager Kim Hubert told Channel Partners that this model is growing in popularity, enough so that VMware and Adobe are looking at moving to subscriptions, and that it gives partners an opportunity to customize and tailor solutions.

Bill-Peter adds that a differentiator in this model is that support is “engagement vs. deflection.” Red Hat organizes its support teams around technical topics. Partner or end-customer engineers don’t have to start at low-level support but can jump directly to the team that can address their problems.

IBM's Doug BalogBill-Peter wrapped with a discussion of the security advantages of OSS, pointing out that 97 percent of critical vulnerabilities had a fix issued for RHEL the same or the next day after an exploit went public. And, since the source code is open, you don’t need to wait on a vendor to know if a customer’s system is vulnerable.

IBM’s Balog closed the keynote lineup on the theme that the future of enterprise IT is hybrid, and ran down Big Blue’s open-source bona fides: IBM is betting on Linux as the future of mainframes, such as that future is. Reference customer MD Anderson Cancer Center is using Watson on Linux running on Power systems to mine data and spot disease patterns.

IBM is shifting 3,500 developers to work on Spark-related products; more than 500 IBM programmers work on OSS, and IBM was a founding member of the OpenPower foundation, along with Google, Mellanox and others. The consortium is focused on high-performance computing, which Balog says is a growing market: By 2016, more than 50 percent of compute capacity will be in hyperscale data centers, according to IDC, and by 2020 half of deployed server units will be custom-designed.


  • Red Hat Ceph Storage 1.3 and Red Hat Gluster 3.1: Red Hat announced two new open source, scale-out software-defined storage solutions that run on commodity hardware. Both are validated to work with leading partner hardware and software; Ceph is aimed at enterprise block and object storage, while Gluster is a scale-out file store with a straightforward architecture suitable for public, private and hybrid clouds. In addition, Red Hat expanded its storage ecosystem with new partner alliances, including Super Micro and Vantrix.
  • Red Hat Access Insights is the headliner among several management announcements. RH Access Insights is a service designed to give customers and partners better visibility into the performance, availability, stability and security of their Red Hat infrastructures. The software could alert an MSP, if, for example, certain customers are running versions of RHEL that are not patched against a fast-moving vulnerability.

Outside the summit, Boston’s Hynes Convention Center (site of our upcoming Cloud Partners event) is attached to the high-end Prudential Center Mall, and many shops had signs welcoming Red Hat attendees. Free People and Lululemon seem unlikely shopping destinations for most at the conference, but I did see some people with badges browsing the large Microsoft store – surreptitiously, of course.

Follow editor-in-chief Lorna Garey on Twitter.

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