Red Hat: It's in IBM's best interest to keep us as 'Switzerland'

Red Hat's 13,000 employees and partners, such as AWS and Google, wouldn't stand for it being any other way, according to Marco Bill-Peter.

Red Hat's senior vice president of Customer Experience and Engagement Marco Bill-Peter said that three weeks ago he was confronted by the news that the organisation he had been with for over a decade was going to be sold to technology behemoth IBM.

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"We all had a little shock -- at least I had shock," Bill-Peter told Red Hat Forum 2018 in Sydney on Wednesday.

"I have 13 years of Red Hat and unlike Max [McLaren, regional vice president and general manager of Australia and New Zealand], I don't have 13 years of IBM, but I do have 13 years of HP."

According to Bill-Peter, it isn't just what Red Hat offers that is different to IBM, rather the company has its own culture, one due completely to open source he said.

"For me it was like, this was really odd ... and I think a lot of us felt like that because we identify with the open source principles. It's not just open source, it's also our transparency about how we lead the organisation," he explained.

Must read: How the cloud wars forced IBM to buy Red Hat for $34 billion

Under the ownership of IBM, he believes Red Hat can accelerate the expansion of its open source portfolio, highlighting cross-selling opportunities as one main advantage to the business.

"For me being in engineering, different things are more important. It's commitment to open source. Because we truly believe that open source and the open source way leads to better products, better innovation," he said, noting however, that he feels IBM has given Red Hat that assurance.

The plan is for Red Hat to stay true to open source and to operate as an independent, distinct unit, which Bill-Peter said includes preserving its unique culture.

"That's really important," he said.

"At Red Hat we have like 13,000 people. If the open source culture gets impacted, trust me, many of those 13,000 people will leave.

"So I know the commitment -- if IBM spends a third of its market cap on Red Hat, I know that's serious."

It's also in IBM's best interests to keep Red Hat the way it is for business reasons, with Bill-Peter pointing to partnerships his organisation has with some of the other tech giants.

"They want to keep Red Hat as the independent Switzerland -- guess where I'm from?," he said.

"What this means is if they were to just make us a part of IBM, a lot of our clients or partners -- like Amazon or Google -- they wouldn't collaborate with us on the next open hybrid cloud."

"That's why being that Switzerland of IT for Red Hat is really important."

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