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Red Hat CEO: ‘Open Hybrid Cloud Will Be Defined By Hardware Innovation At The Edge’

‘Red Hat partners like Arm, Nvidia, Intel and more are creating technologies that are more than just smart servers at the edge. These solutions, with the right strategy and software, they can function as clouds that extend way beyond the confines of the traditional data center,’ Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier says in his Red Hat Summit keynote.

Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier told the audience at this year’s Red Hat Summit event that open-source technologies such as Linux and Kubernetes are the backbone of technology innovation and will stay in a remote working world—take Disney Animation, for example.

Disney Animation is one of the users of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Workstation, Cormier told the audience at Red Hat’s annual Summit event, held this year in Boston and streamed online.

The company used RHEL Workstation for its artists working remotely during the pandemic to have enough access to tools to work on the hit animated movie “Encanto”—perhaps best known for the chart-topping original song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”—despite the pandemic.

[RELATED: 10 Big Announcements From Red Hat Summit 2022]

“So I guess you have RHEL to thank for your kids listening to the soundtrack on repeat and repeat and repeat since November,” Cormier said during his Summit keynote address. “But in the process, Disney found that their artists and developers could create work at the same level as they would have in the studio,” he added.

“This is just one example of our customers adapting to the changing environment, just making it all work, even in the face of a global pandemic. You need innovation, but you also need stability. Red Hat is your bridge as you establish what your organization looks like as we emerge from this pandemic and we continue to accelerate.”

The Raleigh, N.C.-based company held its Red Hat Summit at the same time and in the same city as parent company IBM’s annual Think conference. The two events were held in separate venues—a reflection of the autonomy IBM has given Red Hat to keep it neutral in the market.

Red Hat used its event to whet developers’ appetite for the upcoming newest version of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system, providing more information on RHEL 9’s new capabilities around edge computing, security and automation.

“I predict that in the next several years, the open hybrid cloud is going to be defined by hardware innovation at the edge. Red Hat partners like Arm, Nvidia, Intel and more are creating technologies that are more than just smart servers at the edge,” he said.

“You as IT leaders need to prepare for and take advantage of this evolution by creating systems and environments that can stretch seamlessly across all of these footprints—from the data center, to the private and public clouds to the network’s edge. Open-source code is the foundation of the innovation that’s driving these offerings,” he said.

Here’s what else Cormier had to say.

On Open Source And The Pandemic 

These past two years, we’ve been focused on what we’re going through right now. But I really do think we should look at it as really what we‘re accomplishing while we’re doing this.

Nearly every single industry, globally, through this, went to 100 percent remote working overnight. Think about that.

Organizations—regardless of industry and size—they had to learn to operate virtually and on demand.

Companies needed to deliver goods and services to customers without a set of brick-and-mortar footprints. New tech hubs emerged in very unlikely places around the world. Newly remote workers, they realized that they didn’t really have to be tied to a physical office to get their job done. Hiring new talent focused on skill and not location. These are not insignificant achievements, even when we aren’t faced with this worst global pandemic in a century.

And while this way of working was unfamiliar to those who were forced to adapt during the pandemic, to the open-source world, it was just another day.

Every open-source project is worked on remotely and has been from the beginning. Just looking at the Linux Foundation, which supports more than 2,300 projects, there were more than 28,000 contributors to these projects in 2021, adding more than 29 million lines of code each week, with community participants coming, literally, from nearly every country on earth.

Most of these contributors—even in a world where there isn’t an ongoing pandemic—they’ll never meet face to face, but still drive the next generation of open technologies.

Whether we realize it or not, our accomplishments—and they’re many—during the pandemic brought us closer to the open-source model. And this is why open-source innovation is now driving much of the software world.

On Advance Auto Parts And CIBC

There are so many examples of how businesses adapted to not just survive during this, but to actually thrive. For example, in this time, companies saw new revenue streams coming.

Take Advance Auto Parts, for example. During the pandemic, as with many consumer retailers, they were forced to completely transform their business.

They had to move from a traditional, brick-and-mortar storefront to a primarily digital footprint—including no-touch curbside pickup. … They evolved to a better omni-channel customer experience, putting them in direct competition with established online retailers to make their experience better and even more complete than it did beforehand, and one that would extend even to the post-pandemic world. This seamlessly extended across mobile, online and in-store operations.

They did this with a hybrid cloud platform built on open source with Red Hat. And they are not looking back from their new normal that they’re in right now.

We also found a way to become more efficient. Look at CIBC [the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce], one of our ‘Innovation Award’ winners this year.

What began as a small implementation of RHEL expanded to include OpenShift across their environments. Today, they’re able to handle increased activity and a growing number of applications on-premises and in the cloud.

The result? A 52 percent improvement in deployment time, and 95 percent improvement in provisioning test servers. … As we approach what hopefully—hopefully—is the tail end of an incredibly difficult few years, it’s time for all of us to accelerate.

It’s time to take the lessons that we learned and applied as we transform to digital-first and use them to make our business, our cultures and our global communities even better.

On Hybrid Cloud Giving CIOs Options 

The term ‘new normal’ is now used like it‘s predetermined and static. It isn’t. You get to define your new normal. What do you want your business to look like? How do you embrace the next generation of IT? How will you drive technology strategies closer to the innovation where it’s actually being developed?

The only way you get closer to this innovation, and the only way that you can actually use this innovation to keep pace with changing demands is through the adoption of open-source technology. Eight years ago— which sounds like an absolute lifetime in IT terms—it felt like 90 percent of the companies that I talked to on a daily basis were going to a singular cloud provider.

Many CIOs—either because they were trying to get ahead of the curve or due to other pressures—they might have entered the cloud before they had a complete concrete plan.

Now, nearly a decade later, some of these same CIOs are finding out that maybe their choices weren’t really the best—either for their budget, for their workloads, or maybe even for their overall strategy.

These organizations, they won’t get to choose hybrid cloud. It’s coming to them—whether they’re ready or not.

While the cloud brings so much value to some applications, not every single application needs or should be in a public cloud. Some applications may be better suited to one specific cloud. Some applications may be required to run on-premises, consuming services in a very cloud model.

That is the beauty of hybrid cloud, a concept that we at Red Hat adopted long ago. The reality is that your applications, your workloads and your infrastructure—they should run and live wherever you need them to run and live.

Maybe that’s the data center. Maybe it’s the public cloud. Maybe it’s multiple public clouds. Or maybe it’s all the way out into the edge where you need compute closer to data in real time.

Hybrid cloud also encompasses multi-cloud. It’s not exclusionary. Not every cloud can meet the specific needs of every CIO. And that’s OK. You need choice. You need hybrid cloud. That’s what Red Hat’s been focusing on for the last eight-plus years. And that’s what we have been doing and continue to provide on a daily basis.

On Hybrid Cloud And The Edge

I predict that in the next several years, the open hybrid cloud is going to be defined by hardware innovation at the edge. Red Hat partners like Arm, Nvidia, Intel and more are creating technologies that are more than just smart servers at the edge.

These solutions, with the right strategy and software, they can function as clouds that extend way beyond the confines of the traditional data center.

You as IT leaders need to prepare for and take advantage of this evolution by creating systems and environments that can stretch seamlessly across all of these footprints—from the data center, to the private and public clouds, to the network‘s edge.

Open-source code is the foundation of the innovation that’s driving these offerings. It’s not about open core or proprietary software here. You can see where I’m going with this. The only way to create and adapt these innovations is through open-source technology.

At its core, the new normal for IT starts with open source. Open-source software provides a channel that doesn’t limit your inspirations or your aspirations. This has always been Red Hat’s model—open-source practices, code and technologies are at the core of all that we do.

While this is what Red Hat believes, it’s also what our customers believe. Open-source-developed technologies are the foundation of their innovation strategies as well.

On The Power Of Open Source 

There are still some challenges that CIOs need to prepare for. The rapid innovation promised by open-source projects is just that—rapid innovation.

While enterprises and other organizations want to and need to adopt new technologies, they need to do so in a cadence that makes sense for their own needs.

Even during the height of the pandemic, open-source communities just kept moving forward. Developers add more than 32,000 lines of code to the Linux kernel each and every week. For Kubernetes, more than 500 contributions are made to that project each day.

Combined, the Linux and Kubernetes communities track, as of today, close to 10,000 identified bugs and are working on fixes. This is an enormous amount of change for organizations to adjust to, even in the face of the new normal.

Change, especially rapid change, can be very uncomfortable for an IT organization. But nearly every major advancement— every disruption that we now take as just commonplace—it started in open-source communities.

Linux, Linux containers, Kubernetes, serverless, artificial intelligence and machine learning—the code behind these powerful evolutions is open and it’s changing almost daily and, in some projects, hourly.

But before you think about this as a truly disruptive scenario, Red Hat has been here before. This is what we’ve been doing as an enterprise software company for the last 21 years. We’ve been managing this perceived chaos and helping you navigate through it.

We make it easier for you to make big technology decisions that your business needs, whenever and however you need them. We‘ve already helped define new normals for entire industries, building on the backbone of enterprise-ready open source.

In the early 2000s, before RHEL’s 10-year life cycle was set, the financial services industry was committing to Linux as their main platform for trades and other crucial transactions.

Now, 100 percent of commercial banks in the Fortune Global 500 rely on Red Hat’s open innovation.

At that same time, Linux was a little more than a rough GUI and command line. Video drivers were still mostly proprietary and generally not even supported by the kernel yet. Today, it’s almost unheard of for animation studios, 3-D modeling agencies and other graphics-intensive users to not run Linux.

On Red Hat’s Role In ‘Encanto’ 

We have a great example with Walt Disney Animation Studios. They recently developed an award-winning movie entirely during the pandemic with teams working remotely. Perhaps you’ve heard of it—‘Encanto.’

They took what has traditionally been an internal studio-centric approach and distributed it using Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation, empowering their artists to work remotely at the same level as they would have in the studio.

So I guess you have RHEL to thank for your kids listening to the soundtrack on repeat and repeat and repeat since November.

But in the process, Disney found that their artists and developers could create work at the same level as they would have in the studio. This is just one example of our customers adapting to the changing environment, just making it all work, even in the face of a global pandemic.

You need innovation, but you also need stability. Red Hat is your bridge as you establish what your organization looks like as we emerge from this pandemic and we continue to accelerate.

We didn’t just survive through the pandemic. We thrived. And as I said before, we found new ways of working—engaging with our associates and customers—and new ways to generate new business. Open source will define your new normal, and Red Hat will help you adapt to that new normal.

Distributed work in organizations is the new normal and a new IT normal. … Open source is what supports the shift.

A new normal is disruptive. It’ll be doubted and challenged. But this isn’t done by Red Hat alone. We have done it with all of you and with community developers working on open-source projects as a passion.

On Open Source Winning In Innovation

Today, these same developers who have worked on it just as a passion, they’ve turned their hobbies into heavily recruited careers. Early ISVs that were with us and partners—they took a risk in supporting Linux in the early days.

Today, for many, it’s the very first platform that they support. Early on, many of our OEM partners began working with us in communities even though 99 percent of their products were supported by competitors’ proprietary operating systems.

Now, many of these same partners, they turn to open-source projects to light up their new features and hardware in their development cycle.

This reminds me of a quote that has graced the entrances to many Red Hat offices over many years. It’s something that I looked up back when walking in every morning—and especially in those days or maybe during difficult times.

It reads something like this: ‘First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.’

These words sum up the struggle and victory that we’ve all been through over the years because of having open source as a passion. We’ve all been through these stages. And they also address how the new normal can succeed.

Let‘s be clear about one thing—open-source technology has won the innovation debates. Period. Innovation is open source. But there’s no victory lap right now for Red Hat or for CIOs or for the open-source communities because we’re far from done.

Open source now solidly drives the innovation in the industry. So as we’ve done in the past, let’s help the entire industry thrive in this new normal and define and get to the next normal.

Whatever it looks like, one thing I can guarantee you—it’ll be built on open-source technology. And Red Hat, together with you, will get us there.

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