Red Hat chief: 'Cheaper generally wins'

Jim Whitehurst believes his company can flourish in the current economic climate, because its products are cheap and it has heritage in cloud computing
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Red Hat's chief executive, Jim Whitehurst, has claimed his company is well placed to deal with the current economic crisis because it is a low-cost supplier.

"At times like this, cheaper generally wins," Whitehurst said as he spoke to journalists on Monday about his thoughts on the Linux market and the immediate future for Red Hat.

The biggest issue facing the company at the moment, Whitehurst said, was how to allocate resources. "There is a need to do a lot more planning," he said, suggesting Red Hat currently had "an embarrassment of opportunities" but only "a certain amount of dollars" that it could invest in addressing those opportunities.

Whitehurst said part of the reason for the company's optimistism lies in what he sees as its broad appeal. "Companies that use IT for competitive advantage are the ones we do well in, but then you have the companies that spend hundreds of millions on IT, but not necessarily for competitive advantage... and we are attracting them too."

On the subject of the cloud — the precise definition of which Whitehurst thought was unimportant — he said the growing sector was a major opportunity for Red Hat. "Whether you want to call [large systems grouped together] a grid or whether or not you call it a cloud, those are just different buzz words... We have been working for a long time with these large resource pools to act in concert with each other," he said."We are working with several of the large movie studios on how they can share resources. We have also done our first application that is certified for Linux, and it is certified on the hypervisor and for the cloud."

Whitehurst praised the KVM — the virtualisation built into Linux — as "a very important technology because with it you can leverage decades of important work in the cloud".

"The reason we think that is important is because it takes many things to make the cloud work well," Whitehurst said. "You need security, you need to able to distribute workloads across tens of thousands of servers. That is why we think virtualisation should be part of the operating system, because so much work has been done."

Overall, the steps companies are taking to deal with the cloud could only work in Red Hat's favour, Whitehurst claimed. "We generally see disruption as good. In difficult economics times we do well."

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