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Partners See Red Hat OpenShift Momentum Under Steady Hand Of CEO Paul Cormier

“OpenShift is the new OS of the cloud,” said Vizuri Senior Vice President Joe Dickman. “Paul’s commitment to Linux and the benefits of Linux in the cloud are driving industry demand for a new computing paradigm. His vision for the next generation of computing is on target.”

IBM-Red Hat partners said they see a robust OpenShift sales pipeline, continued hybrid cloud momentum and bright prospects for future growth under the steady hand of Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier.

Vizuri, a Red Hat Apex and Amazon Web Services partner based in Herndon, Va., is seeing double-digit growth in its Red Hat OpenShift business as a result of the programs put in place by Cormier, said Joe Dickman, senior vice president of Vizuri.

“There are more customers in the queue than qualified resources to deal with them because there are more people now interested in Red Hat OpenShift,” said Dickman. “Paul Cormier has created the incentive programs within the organization that are providing a pathway for customers to monetize their Red Hat investments using cloud technologies working with partners like AWS and Vizuri. As Red Hat OpenShift grows, we are experiencing similar growth as we bring customers to this value-based infrastructure.”

[Related: IBM CEO Arvind Krishna’s ‘Deeply, Deeply Passionate’ Plan To Make IBM-Red Hat No. 1 In Hybrid Cloud, AI]

Red Hat—which saw sales grow 17 percent in the most recent quarter—has been on a “growth trajectory for a long time,” and that is “strengthening” as a result of Cormier’s “commitment” to Red Hat OpenShift, said Dickman. “That is evidenced by programs like Level Up which provides 10 Cores of Supported OpenShift Enterprise on-premises or within AWS at no cost to the customer. That is helping small and midsize organizaitons move into the cloud.”

Dickman also credits Amazon Web Services with creating the innovative Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS (ROSA) and Red Hat Accelerated Migration Program (RAMP) that are fueling adoption.

The investments by AWS and Red Hat are helping to offset the costs associated with containers and cloud adoption using Red Hat technologies, said Dickman.

Cormier, who joined Red Hat 20 years ago as executive vice president of engineering, has played a key role in Red Hat’s OpenShift success as a hybrid cloud platform, said Dickman. “Paul grew up as an engineer,” Dickman said. “He is a critical force behind where Red Hat Enterprise Linux has come from and where it has moved to, which is OpenShift Enterprise, one of the leading Kubernetes platforms. OpenShift is the new OS of the cloud. Paul’s commitment to Linux and the benefits of Linux in the cloud are driving industry demand for a new computing paradigm. His vision for the next generation of computing is on target.”

Cormier, for his part, told CRN in April that one of the company’s principles is to “reaffirm” its commitment to the partner ecosystem. “One of the things that we really want to do is, across the globe, across our regions, we’re going to get much, much more consistent in bringing programs, tools [and] opportunities to our channel partners,” he said. “It’s a big part of our future success.”

The vote of confidence from Red Hat partners comes with the departure of IBM President Jim Whitehurst, the former Red Hat CEO who announced last week that he was stepping aside after two years with IBM.

Whitehurst, who was CEO of Red Hat for 12 years, has agreed to stay on as a “senior advisor” to IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna and the IBM executive team.

Perficient, Red Hat’s North American partner of the year, has seen the pipeline for Red Hat OpenShift double over the course of the last year, said Vishal Rajpal, area vice president cloud/API platforms for North America. “Red Hat OpenShift is taking some share away from the competition,” he said. “There is definitely a very healthy pipeline which is growing for us. …This is a growing area with a large IBM customer base.”

Rajpal said he sees IBM as a “well-oiled machine” with regard to the integration of Red Hat and Red Hat OpenShift. “I think they are in good hands with Paul,” he said. “He has been with Red Hat for over 20 years and is very well integrated into the IBM ecosystem now that he has been at IBM for two years.”

The channel is benefitting from the IBM-Red Hat OpenShift sales charge, said Rajpal. “The channel opportunity is huge,” he said. “We are very well positioned to capitalize on this.”

In fact, he said, the COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of Red Hat OpenShift. “With COVID over the last year, all of our customers accelerated that modernization journey going down the container and cloud-based migration path to hybrid cloud,” he said. “That actually helped the transformation that was happening in the market and probably brought more market share to IBM as part of the accelerated digital transformation that got triggered by COVID-19.”

Rajpal credited Krishna for making the big bold bet two years ago on the $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat, which is paying off for IBM. “Arvind saw the shift that was happening in the market and took that leap of faith. It was a big bet,” he said. “I congratulate Arvind on that big bet.”

Red Hat OpenShift is driving huge return on investment for customers, said Rajpal. For example, a large logistics industry customer that worked with Perficient to move to Red Hat OpenShift anticipated a two-year return on investment, but achieved that payback in just six months, said Rajpal.

What’s more, he said, the move to the Red Hat OpenShift container platform helped pave the way for 100 percent growth in the customer’s business. “It really changed the ballgame for that business,” Rajpal said. “It’s a great story with one of the largest logistical players in the market that was not only able to scale the business, but really keep the lights on. If they had not moved to OpenShift as their container platform they probably would not have been able to handle the logistics traffic and volume and business growth. They not only handled that volume, but they increased their response time, getting more transactions and throughput through the infrastructure.”

As a result of the success of that initial Red Hat OpenShift project with Perficient, the logistics industry customer is moving all of its applications to OpenShift over a two-year period, said Rajpal. “It is amazing to see a large behemoth logistical player like that take all of their applications and move them to OpenShift,” he said.”We got the initial transformation done pretty quickly and showed them the ROI. Now they are increasing their spend on OpenShift.”

Ultimately the logistics industry customer’s OpenShift transformation was one of the keys to Perficient’s Red Hat North America partner of the year victory, said Rajpal.

Customers with legacy middleware architecture now have confidence that they can achieve quick return on investment on a Red Hat OpenShift transformation, said Rajpal. Those customers are paying attention to the many Red Hat OpenShift success stories, he said.

In fact, he said, the move to Red Hat OpenShift is enabling legacy businesses to act more like start-ups with rapid changes to their applications.The “secret sauce” is Perficient’s OpenShift methodology and services with a focus on selecting the right applications to start the cloud journey, said Rajpal.

“We are providing ROI in less than 12 months whether it is replatforming or modernization,” he said. “We shine because we have done this so many times for so many different customers across different industries. We have that recipe of success, which helps customers get that ROI.”

Persistent Systems, a digital transformation solution provider, is also seeing “tremendous growth momentum” around the adoption of Red Hat OpenShift among customers with a growing number of larger deals, said Todd O’Mara, senior vice president of sales for the IBM and Red Hat Alliance at Peristent.

“The applications are getting beyond the low hanging fruit into some of the legacy, sticky workloads which are now able to capitalize on the ROI adoption of OpenShift,” he said. “Not only is the pipeline growing rapidly but them mix of larger deals is starting to filter in.”

Among the signs of the growing Red Hat OpenShift adoption are blockbuster IBM deals with Schlumberger, Telecom Egypt, and Delta Airlines, said O’Mara. That “scale” of the hybrid cloud projects that OpenShift is enabling is “impressive,” he said.

Persistent is providing manpower and support for enterprise customers who need additional OpenShift muscle as they look beyond “their internal teams in order to support these workload engagements long-term,” said O’Mara. “It is a collaborative extension for our enterprise customers. We team with and have a pod-oriented model where our teams are working in collaboration with other agile teams within the IT department. We are seeing a lot of success with that model.”

One of the keys to the channel’s success with IBM Red Hat OpenShift is the new simplified sales structure put in place by Krishna earlier this year. Under that model, IBM has put a renewed emphasis on partners with IBM’s direct sales force focusing on the biggest customers, leaving the rest of the market to IBM partners. IBM has backed up that new model with $1 billion overall investment in the partner ecosystem.

“We have seen a rapid acceleration of the focus on what Red Hat calls the midmarket and what IBM calls Segment Two,” said O’Mara. “They have made some great moves to support growth for partners. That is significant. If you look at the rate at which the technology has evolved, it is no secret that the demand has outpaced the supply of these type of [Red Hat OpenShift] skills in the market.”

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