​Red Hat: An independent barony in the kingdom of IBM

Red Hat and IBM explain how Red Hat, its people and open-source technology, will work as part of IBM. Red Hat employees, up-stream developers, and customers have nothing to worry about.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

When the news broke that IBM was buying Red Hat, staffers were caught by surprise. They were understandably nervous. But, it looks like life will continue on as normal for Red Hat's employees, its programs, and open-source projects. The big difference? The company will have IBM's massive resources behind it.

Under IBM, Red Hat will maintain its autonomy. CEO Jim Whitehurst and his current management team will continue to lead the company. Red Hat will also keep its existing facilities, brands, and its unique Red Hat's open organization leadership style.

IBM sees Red Hat as the Switzerland of the open-source and Linux enterprise software stack. The last thing IBM wants is to transform Red Hat into just another IBM brand. Arvind Krishna, IBM's senior vice president of hybrid cloud, said: "Red Hat must, and will, remain independent."

This idea is not as radical as it sounds. IBM divisions have historically been given a great deal of freedom. It's only from the outside looking in that IBM appears to be a monolithic kingdom. It's really more a set of baronies under one name.

For example, all of Red Hat's open source programs and operating systems--including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS, Fedora, CoreOS, Ansible, WildFly (formerly JBoss) and others--will go on just as they have been. In addition, open-source programs that Red Hat supports, such as the OpenStack cloud, will continue to be supported.

Paul Cormier, Red Hat's president of products and technologies, said the acquisition will have no impact on Red Hat's day-to-day activities. "The day after we close there will be nothing different. It will be business as usual with the same roadmaps. We'll continue to do what's right for the community," he said. "There will be no changes. I don't know how else to say that. There will be absolutely no change in how we work with the upstream Linux community."

In addition, Red Hat will continue to support all its existing partners. Yes, that includes IBM's public cloud rivals. "Red Hat's would continue to support existing partnerships with other cloud providers," said Cormier. These partners include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud.

Make no mistake about it, though, this merger and acquisition is all about the cloud.

What Red Hat brings to the table, said Cormier, is both its OpenShift Kubernetes cloud-platform and its vast Linux experience.

Cormier continued:

We're not an open source company. We're an enterprise-software company with an open-source development model. Red Hat's secret sauce is we've put those two things together. And we've both done that. IBM has a huge history of enterprise-grade software and open-source development.

The hope is, in what may be more of a partnership than a merger, IBM will continue to be an enterprise software services power and Red Hat will continue to be a dominant open-source player. Together, they hope to become the hybrid cloud powerhouse of the 21st century.

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