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Red Hat Kubernetes Kingpin Grant Shipley Jumps Ship To VMware

‘If you see someone like [Shipley] leaving Red Hat and their new home at IBM to take over Kubernetes at VMware – that speaks volumes to where this market is heading,’ says one CEO from a solution provider that partners with VMware and Red Hat.

Just months after IBM’s $34 billion blockbuster acquisition of Red Hat, the company’s top Kubernetes star is joining rival VMware as the virtualization titan is striving to take the Kubernetes market by storm.

Grant Shipley was senior director of Red Hat’s OpenShift Container and Kubernetes Platform from 2012 until this week, when he left to join VMware to become the company’s new senior director of Kubernetes. Shipley was a pioneer for Red Hat’s Kubernetes OpenShift platform, spending a total of 14 years inside the company in a variety of top executive engineering and software development roles.

VMware’s chief operating officer, Sanjay Poonen, said on Twitter that he was looking forward to Shipley’s “wisdom and excellence” to boost VMware’s Kubernetes and Tanzu strategy in the coming years.

[Related: Mitel CEO Rich McBee Leaving The UCaaS Star For ‘New Opportunity’]

Shipley’s departure comes just three months after IBM completed its acquisition of Red Hat in an all-cash stock transaction that represented a total equity value of $34 billion. IBM did not immediately respond to comment on Shipley’s departure or who would be his replacement.

One CEO from a solution provider that partners with both VMware and Red Hat said the future of Kubernetes and containers is “bright” for VMware but is uncertain for Red Hat.

“Look, VMware is going all in on Kubernetes. They acquired Heptio. They’re investing tons of money on containers and transforming really quickly into the modern developer leader and hybrid cloud leader. There’s endless potential for combining VMware and Pivotal,” said the CEO, who did not wish to be identified. “So if you see someone like [Shipley] leaving Red Hat and their new home at IBM to take over Kubernetes at VMware – that speaks volumes to where this market is heading.”

The CEO said the future for Red Hat is still unclear inside of IBM in terms of Kubernetes and OpenShift innovation. “Everyone is wondering what IBM is going to do with Red Hat. How they can successful push innovation with things likes OpenShift and what type of direction they’re going to take [Red Hat],” he said.

At the Deutsche Bank Conference last month, VMware Pat Gelsinger said his company has “better assets” than the combined Red Hat and IBM in terms of OpenShift versus Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

“So, IBM spent $34 billion doing this. I spent $2.8 billion [on Pivotal], plus add Heptio. So, I spent less than $3 billion and I think I have better assets,” said Gelsinger. “The other piece was the Pacific move where we're immigrating Kubernetes directly into vSphere. And this is where we brought an unfair advantage to the fight. … We went to our faithful and we said to them, ‘You're now going to be – every one of you are going to become Kubernetes experts and you're not going to change a thing of what you do today.’ Wow. That's a game changer for us being able to bring Kubernetes at scale into the marketplace and bridge between these communities.”

At VMWorld 2019 in August, Gelsinger unveiled plans to becoming the “leader” in Kubernetes with a slate of products in the pipeline. The centerpiece of its Kubernetes strategy is VMware Tanzu, a portfolio of products and services that will enhance the current capabilities of VMware's Pivotal Container Service (PKS). Tanzu launches with a cross-cloud Kubernetes management console called Tanzu Mission Control and will yield a fully native Kubernetes environment within vSphere. Tanzu will serve as an onramp for PKS customers to broaden their abilities to build, run and manage containerized apps.

VMware’s new Kubernetes leader Shipley, for his part, said on Twitter that he has learned “a ton” within his first four hours at VMware.

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