Red Hat roundtable discusses future of open source

A roundtable discussion with Red Hat’s Werner Knoblich and Lee Miles, highlighting the company’s latest developments in open source

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Red Hat roundtable discusses future of open source Werner Knoblich, senior vice president and general manager, Red Hat EMEA.
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By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  May 11, 2017

What is Microsoft’s interest in joining the open source space? What do they have to offer?

Werner Knoblich: Microsoft approached us about a year and a half ago. Their big competitor is not Red Hat. Their big competitor is Amazon, because the future for them is not Windows — the future for them is Azure. When you look at the commission plans for Microsoft, which usually tells you the strategy of a company, everyone is getting some kind of commission when they do Azure business. That is the future and where Amazon is a big competitor.

Now when you look from a public cloud provider, they had a big issue. We are the number two operating system in the world after Windows.

If you are a public cloud provider and you are not able to offer number two operating system in the world, to your customers, in a certified and support environment, you have a competitive disadvantage over your competitors. Because Amazon could do this, along with Google and IBM. So Microsoft became certified on Red Hat cloud.

In return, Microsoft, as you may know, opened completely up with the .Net environment, and so we now also have .Net as a development choice within our platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

That was big for our PaaS, our open shift, because as a developer, you don’t want to worry about infrastructure. They want to say “I just want to develop. Now I want to develop today in Java, tomorrow in PHP, and the day after in Python, or whatever language is, I want to have this at a push of a button.

What we did not have was .Net, .net, because obviously we needed Microsoft to get integrated with this platform. We are now fully supporting .Net, as a development environment in OpenShift, as we are supporting Java.

This makes it more attractive for the developers because depending on the functionality, depending on the application is, they may choose .Net, or they choose a different technology. The more you have available, the more attractive is the platform.

What other challenges aside from the shortage of skills have you had in selling open source?

Lee Miles: There is three questions that we get. One is the resources. The second one is around the support, which I think we can easily improve the quality of the support function.

We don’t sell licenses. That’s the whole premise behind open source in the first place. Every year we have to renew subscriptions for the customer.

If we don’t deliver a good service, they do not renew, which basically cripples our whole revenue stream. So there is a real onus on us as a company to ensure that the quality of the service that we give is to a standard that we continue to need and want to.

Sometimes a robustness and quality of Linux is such that it doesn’t break. So people often ask why they would want our support if it doesn’t break. But actually, it’s the comfort of security and risk, as well as the certifications, which is very important.
The third question is then around security. Really not these days, but more so from history, is the question — is open source secure enough? We don’t have any separate security module around what we deliver as set of products. It’s just inherently inbound.

If you think about our development process, if there is every an issue, bug, or security flaw, found in an operating system, we got thousands and thousands people looking at this, every minute of every day.

We are very confident that we can stand up, in terms of the quality of the software itself. These are the three key questions that we typically get.

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