Red Hat Taps Ex-Microsoftie To Lead OpenStack, Virtualization Efforts

Balakrishnan is tasked with raising Red Hat's profile in the OpenStack community. The vendor is working on a commercial OpenStack product for enterprises and last August began offering a free preview. At the time, Red Hat said its commercial OpenStack product, based on the Folsom release, would be available in early 2013, but that didn't come to pass.

"We believe that the Folsom release will be the first release that has the baseline feature set and hardening needed for everyday enterprise usage," Red Hat says in an FAQ on its website.

[Related: MapR, Canonical Team To Offer Hadoop On Ubuntu Linux ]

Red Hat said Balakrishnan will also be driving adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, currently in version 3.0, which the vendor pitches as a cheaper alternative to Linux and Windows systems. It's built on the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor managed by the Apache Software Foundation.

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According to Balakrishnan's LinkedIn profile, his title is general manager of Red Hat's virtualization business unit, but it's not clear if that was the title he assumed in December or the new one. Red Hat couldn't be reached for clarification.

Balakrishnan joined Microsoft in 1999 and held a variety of positions during his time there, including senior director of Windows Azure public cloud in the Asia-Pacific, and director of virtualization and private cloud, a role driving worldwide marketing for Microsoft's three-year, $250 million cloud partnership with Hewlett-Packard, which began in 2010.

Red Hat sees its open source roots as a key advantage over proprietary players in the public cloud. "The cloud today is now built on Linux and open source. ... You wouldn't have the cloud today if Linux and open source had not been developed," Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies at Red Hat, said at the Red Hat Partner Conference in January.

Red Hat last week reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, with revenue growing 17 percent and profit jumping 19 percent on subscription growth. Yet these results came in slightly short of analysts' expectations, causing Red Hat shares to tumble 12 percent to $48.50 in the wake of the announcement. They're trading at $48.84 as of Tuesday afternoon Pacific Standard Time.