Red Hat CEO announces a shift from client-server to cloud computing

In other words, Red Hat is moving from Linux to OpenStack as its primary breadwinner.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Red Hat is in the midst of changing its image from a top Linux company to the future king of cloud computing. CEO Jim Whitehurst told me in 2011 that the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud would be Red Hat's future. Today in a blog posting, Whitehurst underlined this shift from Linux to OpenStack.

Red Hat Cloud

Whitehurst wrote:

Right now, we're in the midst of a major shift from client-server to cloud-mobile. It's a once-every-twenty-years kind of change. As history has shown us, in the early days of those changes, winners emerge that set the standards for that era – think Wintel in the client-server arena. We're staring at a huge opportunity – the chance to become the leader in enterprise cloud, much like we are the leader in enterprise open source. The competition is fierce, and companies will have several choices for their cloud needs. But the prize is the chance to establish open source as the default choice of this next era, and to position Red Hat as the provider of choice for enterprises' entire cloud infrastructure.

In case you haven't gotten the point yet, Whitehurst states, "We want to be the undisputed leader in enterprise cloud." In Red Hat's future, Linux will be the means to a cloud, not an end unto itself.

He's not the only Linux leader who sees it that way. Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical and Ubuntu's founder, agrees. If you read Shuttleworth's blog, you'll see he focuses far more on Ubuntu's inroads into the cloud than, say, Ubuntu on the smartphone or tablet.

They both have excellent reasons for seeing it this way. With the exception of Microsoft Azure, all other cloud platforms rely on Linux and open source software. Amazon's cloud services, for example, run on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

So neither Linux leader is walking too far away from Linux. Shuttleworth, for example, is quite proud that Ubuntu is the leading Linux OS on OpenStack. Whitehurst was quick to note that "Red Hat Enterprise Linux is easily the best operating platform in the world, counting more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 as customers."

Linux leaders see a future where IT is based on Linux and the open source cloud. And if Whitehurst has his way, it will be a Red Hat-dominated future.

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