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India is both a business and technology hub for Red Hat: Paul Cormier

Thomas K Thomas Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on May 24, 2021

Paul Cormier, President and CEO, Red Hat

‘Three big areas Red Hat looks forward to are hybrid cloud, managed services and to build scale’

Paul Cormier took over as the President and CEO at Red Hat in 2020 soon after the open-source software company was acquired by IBM in a $34 billion deal. This came even as companies around the world hastened tech adoption to tackle the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Cormier, in interaction with BusinessLine, spoke about the changes that the company has made over the past year and his strategy moving forward. Excerpts:

What changes are you bringing about at Red Hat with an eye on the future?

We started out as a single product company and we have now become a whole product portfolio company. At the beginning of growing our products, we had separate products, but probably 10 years ago, I pushed to have an integrated portfolio across the product groups. Now I'm pushing that across the whole company. We have an opportunity to double our growth over the next three to four years. The big thing is to go to market as one company. We're also really going to rely on our partners much more.

The pandemic has disrupted the calculations and projections of every company. How is it impacting RedHat’s business?

I do see many companies using this as an opportunity to accelerate what they were going to do anyway. Lots of companies were planning and talking about really connecting and hybrid architecture. The pandemic has made companies recognize that they are going to be distributed, people-wise.

How is having IBM as a shareholder and owner working out for Red Hat?

It's helped both IBM and Red Hat. It has helped IBM rethink what their product portfolio is because with RedHat coming in, they have to do things differently. And it's also helped to open doors for us where we might not have gotten to. We're helping IBM, in bringing a hybrid cloud portfolio that they can now build. They've gone all-in on the Red Hat platforms From an IBM perspective, their strategy now is to build the application level on top of that. They’re retooling their portfolio to do that.

We have strong partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and some other cloud providers around the world. That has to continue. Having said all that, they (IBM) are 318,000 people, we’re 17,000 people. They can bring us into deals in countries even that we hadn't yet gotten to yet. So, now we can really accelerate that this year.

Red Hat’s double-digit growth was significant for IBM's positive revenue growth this quarter. What is your strategy to maintain this growth?

We built ourselves to be the hybrid cloud leaders, and now it's coming to fruition. We've really got three big areas that we're moving forward on. The first we talked about a lot is extending hybrid cloud out to the edge.

Managed services are one of the other big areas. We introduced on both Amazon and Azure OpenShift as a managed service, where we manage it for the customer.

And lastly, is to build scale. If you really look at it, every CIO now is really going to have to become a cloud operator. One of the things that we're working hard on is developing the tools, the processes, and the skill sets.

Where does India fit into Red Hat’s overall plan?

In terms of importance, India's probably the second-largest country after the US in terms of the number of people we have. We have a big presence in India, from all aspects.

India has grown with the company from day one, in terms of our customer base. It is a sophisticated technology country.

India is both a business hub and a technology hub. From a people perspective, our India associates are a critical part of the company.

R&D has been a core strength at Red Hat, could you share some of the things you are currently working that will become the trend in the future.

We are focusing on the combination of AI-driven tools, processes, and training people through partnerships with Universities. We’re putting half a billion dollars into this. This is like the biggest investment that we've ever made. We need to train the kids for the future.

What keeps you awake as the CEO of Red Hat?

I think execution. I think we have set ourselves up really well. From a strategic perspective, we've stayed true to our open source routes, even when it was hard. We have to now grow really fast with great execution. Because the next phase we're in is really a land grab and it is really about who can get there first.

Published on May 11, 2021

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