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Red Hat Chairman Paul Cormier: ‘Even A Direct Account Will Be With Partners’

Wade Tyler Millward

‘We pared down by two-thirds the number of accounts we’re going to call on directly—and even a direct account will be with partners. But everything else will be even directly serviced by our partners,’ says Red Hat Chairman Paul Cormier.

Red Hat Chairman Paul Cormier
Red Hat Chairman Paul Cormier

Trading his Red Hat CEO title for that of chairman, Paul Cormier plans to remain an active force in growing Red Hat’s business—a feat, he told CRN, that needs to be “partner-driven.”

“It’s definitely partner-driven,” Cormier said. “I would like to tell you we had this big revelation. But it’s got to be partner-driven. … Hybrid cloud is not a product, it’s an architecture. And it takes various products from companies like us as well as partner companies. We can’t do it all. It takes consulting services. It takes all kinds of partners to deliver that.”

In July, Cormier vacated the CEO role for 16-year Red Hat employee Matt Hicks to take on the role of CEO. Cormier has worked at Red Hat for more than 14 years, taking on the CEO position in 2020 when former CEO Jim Whitehurst moved up to president of IBM.

[RELATED: IBM’S RED HAT NAMES MATT HICKS AS NEW CEO, HINTS AT FUTURE ACQUISITIONS]

Is Red Hat Enabling Channel Partners?

In an interview with CRN, Hicks also said that he sees partners as a critical component of going to market.

“Our partner community has always been a critical part of delivering to customers,” Hicks said. “We’re just seeing more and more momentum in our focus on open hybrid cloud growth. And whether that’s in the enterprise space of customers moving from on-prem to cloud and from one cloud to multi-cloud, or if it’s from the inclusion in edge where there’s more industry-specific focus—partners are a critical link, whether it’s the MSPs or they’re system integrators … so I think that will only increase as we go forward.”

Cormier will continue to have an office at the Raleigh, N.C.-based open-source software provider. He’ll work with customers to help grow Red Hat’s presence in multi-cloud and edge IT environments, he said.

Red Hat pared down the number of direct customer accounts by two-thirds, Cormier said. And even direct accounts might have a partner connected.

“It’s not only partners who deliver our pieces of the puzzle, it’s partners who complete solutions that we’re just not going to have the bandwidth to do. So that’s the wave that we have to drive and stay in front of. Because if we don’t, if we don’t do it that way, we’ll get overrun by the wave.”

IBM executives have praised Red Hat for the revenue it brings in and for helping IBM build expertise in hybrid cloud, taking a different path than public cloud giants such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

Mark Wyllie, CEO of Boca Raton, Fla.-based IBM and Red Hat partner Flagship Solutions Group, told CRN that Red Hat automation-focused subsidiary Ansible has been helpful for his business in supporting customers without having to dedicate resources to developer work.

Wyllie said he’s happy to hear about more efforts from Red Hat to engage partners earlier in the sales cycle.

“That’s taking some time to happen, but we’re seeing signs that it is moving forward,” he said.

Here’s what else Cormier had to say to CRN, including the move to pare down by two-thirds the number of accounts Red Hat will call on directly.

 
Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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