Red Hat Focuses on Enterprise IT Business at Boston Summit

Lorna GareyRED HAT SUMMIT — Red Hat is synonymous with open source, and that ethos is on full display at this week’s summit in Boston. The crowd is largely developers, and the team doing a live demo of large-scale containerization got a rock-star welcome. But the event kept its focus on the business of enterprise IT — Red Hat stock reached an all-time high last week, beating analyst expectations; the show enjoys record attendance; and Cisco, a premier sponsor of the event, has worked with Red Hat since 2009 and bases its Intercloud software on RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst kicked off the event with the by now familiar theme of “disrupt or be disrupted.” In this case, that disruptive energy is primarily aimed at incumbent proprietary software, from databases to security, and the companies that sell it. Whitehurst says Red Hat and its partners are focused on moving OSS (open source software) out of the data center and up the application stack by leveraging the energy within its developer and its partner communities.

CEO Jim Whitehurst on stage at the Red Hat Summit in Boston.Whitehurst wasted no time taking a dig at proprietary software, noting that the malfunctioning A/C unit does not run on OSS, before turning to the theme of disruption. He cited a survey that shows 61 percent of CIOs expect to compete in entirely new businesses within 10 years. Cars have 100 million lines of source code, and Starbucks, which has more than 10 million users of its mobile app, is becoming a technology company.

“Starbucks is working directly with AT&T on how to make the Wi-Fi experience better and faster and more able to handle multiple people,” said Whitehurst. “They’ve become very involved with wireless charging, and they’re working with Apple on its iBeacon technology.” The upshot: At some point, Starbucks could know when a customer enters a shop, and because it knows the customer’s preferences, have the coffee ready by the time she gets up to the register. The lesson: Work across boundaries, and be willing to try new things. Experimentation is the essence of innovation. “Every company must learn how to experiment,” said Whitehurst. Partners need to help customers up their digital games or be left behind.

After a profile of the e-NABLE program, where engineers design and build prosthetic limbs for children using OSS and 3-D printers, Paul Cormier, EVP and president, products and technologies, took the stage to kick off the second round of keynotes by talking about open source in the enterprise: VMware is in the Linux container business. Microsoft embraced Linux on Azure (that to applause). IDC states that the data center OS race now has only two horses: Windows and Linux, with the latter leading in market share.

Now, said Cormier, the job is to take open source broad, across the entire infrastructure, building on cloud.

“The cloud would not be here without Linux and open virtualization,” said Cormier. “You just can’t argue with that.” He pointed out that OSS may sometimes be late to the game – think KVM vs. VMware – but it’s relentless, and it’s where innovation is happening. The driver is the need for speed and agility; OSS, especially containerized apps, can be easily reused and migrated in an automated fashion.

They're filling the rafters at the Summit.“We can’t depend on humans to rack servers anymore,” said Cormier. “It just takes too long.” That’s a sentiment channel partners can no doubt sympathize with, but the company realizes that incumbent vendor partners have a different view altogether. “The proprietary guys don’t want this change,” said Cormier. “They don’t want open.”

While some OSS projects are “in license only,” Red Hat walks the walk — every line of code that comes out of its labs is returned to the community; when companies are purchased, that code is eventually moved into the open domain.

Steve Lucas, SAP’s president of platform solutions, expanded on the concept of simple and agile digital business. “Things have gotten a little out of hand in the enterprise in terms of complexity,” said Lucas, with only a hint of irony given that SAP is best known for fat business software like ERP, and now the high-end HANA, a 100 percent in-memory platform that combines transactional, warehouse and predictive database functions. But Lucas says half the company’s revenue now comes from apps, and SAP contributes to more than 100 OSS projects. To illustrate, Lucas brought on stage Courtland Gray, CEO of audio equipment manufacturer Peavey, which replaced its existing RDBMS with HANA on the recommendation of its VAR partner.

Finally, Intel VP and GM of software and services Doug Fisher discussed software-defined infrastructure, specifically OpenStack. The consortium now has 25,000 members, while OpenStack is in use by 519 companies – and not just “born digital” shops – and added more than 400 new features in April alone. Intel has been active in OpenStack working groups, including the enterprise and telco groups, and is a founding member of the open container project. Intel’s Kernel Guard and Cloud Integrity Technologies have been turned over to the OSS community.

Attendees could take part in more than 200 self-paced education labs and sessions from Red Hat and the more than 900 partners at the show.

First day news:

  • OpenShift Enterprise 3, Red Hat’s enterprise platform-as-a-service offering, is based on Docker format Linux containers, Kubernetes orchestration and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. This release gives OpenShift users access to a broad ecosystem of packaged application components Red Hat’s Container Certification Program, which certifies the security of containers; this has been one factor inhibiting use of containers. Studies show that 36 percent of official container images available for download contain serious security flaws. Red Hat promises that containers in its certified registry will not present risk.

Why containers? Cloud, in a word. Jim Totton, VP and general manager of the platforms business unit, says containers allow for agility and code reuse and says VMs and containers are complementary; containers can run on top of VMs. RHEL 7 has shipped with containerization support for more than a year.

Red Hat also announced a new OpenShift Enterprise customer, Amadeus, which serves the global travel industry, including airlines, airports, hotels, rail, travel agencies and travel-management companies.  

  • Red Hat Atomic Enterprise Platform provides the foundation for production-scale container deployments and uses the same core technologies as OpenShift Enterprise 3. It is designed to enable organizations to orchestrate consistently across on-premises and cloud-­native applications and scale to meet changing business demands. “It’s mainly geared at operations people,” said Cormier. It provides the manageability and services that they require.
  • Red Hat and Samsung announced a strategic alliance to combine Samsung’s mobile device portfolio and Red Hat’s open source middleware, mobile and cloud technologies to deliver mobile solutions that enable rapid development and integration of enterprise applications for organizations moving toward a mobile-first strategy. The initiative includes industry-specific mobile applications that will run on the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform and address key workforce management and business tasks, such as business intelligence, field and customer service, inventory management and sales catalog, pricing, ordering, and invoicing, as well as a new ecosystem of enterprise partners and developers and enterprise mobility management and support tools.

Follow editor-in-chief Lorna Garey on Twitter.

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