Red Hat to step up developer efforts

CEO Jim Whitehurst pledges to boost open source vendor's efforts to drive developer activity, and says company is unfazed by desktop competition.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Red Hat will step up its efforts to help drive developer contribution and remains unfazed by desktop competition, according to its chief executive Jim Whitehurst.

Addressing local students during his address Friday at UniSIM, Whitehurst provided updates of Red Hat's Open Source Collaborative Innovation (OSCI) initiative launched just over a year ago.

OSCI was launched in an effort to encourage open source software deployment and included partnerships with tertiary institutions and an open source Masters degree program, offered together with UniSIM.

The software vendor intends to expand its Red Hat Academy program to more educational institutions and teach students open source skills, Whitehurst said.

OSCI also sees Red Hat working with local software vendors to integrate their products with Red Hat's OS (operating system), he added. The number of ISVs (independent software vendors) on the program has increased by 4--from an initial number of 6 companies--since its inception, recording joint revenues of over S$2 million (US$1.4 million) from the partnerships, he said.

Also present at the event was Mike Veltman, owner of Interoperability User Group, who asked the Red Hat CEO to comment on the region's lack of developer contribution. In response, Whitehurst pointed the vendor's efforts to engage educational institutions and spread open source adoption among enterprises.

He noted that the organization would seek to continue in these efforts. "We will have to step it up if contribution is lacking," he said.

Asked on the threat of Ubuntu's desktop popularity, Whitehurst said Red Hat, as a company, needs to focus on profitability, where competition in the desktop space is not part of the company's strategy.

He noted that Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, which sponsors the Ubuntu Linux OS, "is a billionaire" and can afford to fund the company's efforts. "But, that's not a business model. I don't think they're making money," Whitehurst said.

"Why would you ever pay for a desktop [OS]?" he said, adding that the company's business model is centered on certifying the RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) OS for enterprises.

Red Hat's stance on the desktop space is not new. It previously said the consumer space does not pose a viable business proposition for the company, which does not want to compete in a space that "suffers from having one dominant vendor".

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