Red Hat’s Paul Cormier On How Partners Win The Hybrid Cloud

The CEO of the leading open-source software company, a subsidiary of IBM, told CRN its channel has a massive opportunity in the midmarket by offering a comprehensive portfolio of open-source solutions. “Partners are our lifeblood. We know that, and IBM knows that,” Cormier says.

One important reason Red Hat so clearly asserts its independence from parent IBM is to ensure the cohesiveness and ongoing growth of its channel and larger ecosystem, CEO Paul Cormier told CRN.

“Many of our partners weren’t IBM partners in the past, and they don’t need to be in the future,” Cormier said. “I think what partners can be sure of is we’re going to continue on the path we’ve been on.”

Even as IBM and Red Hat channels increasingly overlap due to technological synergies, the open- source software giant has been especially careful to assure partners they can work with Red Hat any way that fits their business model, regardless of IBM affiliation.

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“Partners are our lifeblood. We know that, and IBM knows that,” Cormier said.

Now, ready to seize a massive market opportunity in hybrid cloud, Red Hat wants those partners to extend their practices beyond the company’s core technology of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

“We cut our teeth and they cut their teeth on RHEL, and we want them now expanding broader,” he said.

The good news is the open-source technologies demanded by that rapidly surging hybrid cloud market are all “in and around the OS”—natural additions to any Linux reseller, Cormier said.

Red Hat’s CEO spoke to CRN during AnsibleFest 2020 Virtual, the conference focused on Ansible, a leading DevOps solution for provisioning and configuring infrastructure and deploying applications through repeatable code. Red Hat acquired Ansible in 2015.

One product highlight of that event was a major integration of Ansible with OpenShift, Red Hat’s cloud-native development platform. Together, those products deliver an “enterprisewide automation platform” for rapidly deploying traditional workloads side-by-side with cloud-native ones that can span multiple Kubernetes clusters.

While OpenShift is built on Kubernetes, “Kubernetes is a small piece of that platform,” Cormier said.

OpenShift has thrived in the container market primarily because it takes advantage of Linux’s power, openness and availability.

Now Red Hat is entirely focused on making its whole Linux-adjacent portfolio even more integrated, and easier for partners to use and administer.

“We want to get our channels into those new technologies that we’ve come out with since RHEL, getting our partners out there working with the entire portfolio,” Cormier said.

Red Hat and its partners have “only scratched the surface” as far as leveraging those technologies to win new business—especially from midsize enterprises rapidly adopting cloud but looking to stay clear of proprietary products and provider lock-in.

Cormier noted that Red Hat’s unique business model has greatly influenced how it engages its channel.

“Open source has taught us the problems were too big for any one vendor to solve on their own,” he told CRN.

That’s a lesson that also guides Red Hat’s approach to partnering as the company looks to prove to its channel it has the products enterprises need “to run their hybrid worlds.”