Red Hat gets all charged up in Asia

Linux software vendor has the right pillars in place for greater success in the Asia-Pacific market, says regional head honcho Gery Messer.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Gery Messer, Red Hat President APJ
newsmaker For Gery Messer, the people factor is key to success.

In a role created for him in February this year, Red Hat's president for the Asia-Pacific region is vocal about the power of "talent attracting talent" which, he believes, is vital to growing the business.

"Since I joined the company earlier this year, we've brought in some executives who are veterans. We want this leadership to attract high-profile executives, to inspire, set the direction and to talk with key clients," Messer said.

An industry veteran with more than 20 years of management consulting and sales experience, Messer has held several senior executive positions at EMC, SAP and Deloitte Consulting.

ZDNet Asia sat down with Messer recently to discuss the rate of Linux adoption and his vision for Red Hat in Asia.

How is the adoption of Linux in the region's server space from your perspective?
If you look at the major organizations, more and more are running mission-critical applications on a Linux platform, because its reliability is not disputed anymore. With open source, we've gone through the emotional phase, about innovation and building a strong community. Then the next phase benchmarked its performance to show it was proven and scalable--and safe. Now we're leveraging that. CIOs are telling us that open source is becoming mainstream and isn't deemed risky anymore. There's so much more technology available from when we started, like virtualization and data storage management--now all integrated into the operating system.

Gartner recently predicted that 80 percent of all commercial software will include open source standards and solutions by 2011. It was a US$18 billion market in 2005, and we're looking at US$41 billion by 2010. With the CIOs today, it's not a question of whether they'll use Linux or open-source solutions, but more of how quickly they will adapt, and what percentage of their overall IT structure will be on open-source platforms.

How do you see Linux on the desktop shaping up?
Internally, we're running operations on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, of course, and personally, coming from a background working with a popular proprietary operating system, I can tell you that the experience is almost the same. People don't seem to have problems adapting to its look and feel.

The trend we're seeing is toward having different desktops for different users. Linux's flexibility means that we see it on a variety of devices like thin clients or the OLPC, for example. I'm expecting widespread deployment of Linux on the desktop fairly soon.

Red Hat recently hired several members of its top management in the region. Are you looking to grow your staff further?
Absolutely. We're focusing our efforts on building a strong management and support team, to attract talent in the region. We have a strong presence here, in nine different countries. And since I joined the company earlier this year, we've brought in some executives who are veterans. We want this leadership to attract high-profile executives, to inspire, set the direction and to talk with key clients. Eventually, we hope these people can go out and be thought leaders in the community.

I really believe in hiring people to grow and retain them. It's a great passion of mine.

What are your plans for Red Hat's business here?
For our growth strategy and plans, we're looking to expand our partner ecosystem: channel partners and those with middleware skills, too. We want to pose a value proposition not just to customers but also our partners, so that they can build a sustainable business model around our partnership, providing extra work and support.

Companies spend 60 percent of their budgets on support and maintenance. This is where we can come in and offer a price comparison.

Globally, Red Hat is seeing 40 percent of revenues coming from outside of the United States. In two years, we're looking at raising that to 50 percent, with the aim of eventually hitting 60 percent. The Asia-Pacific region is a significant contributor to our international revenue stream, and it's just a matter of time before we go into more markets in the region.

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