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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Lee Congdon, CIO of Red Hat (Part 7)

Posted on Wednesday, Nov 16th 2011

Sramana Mitra: In my research so far, I have not seen a lot of great offerings in the social media analytics space that do a good job of taking a lot of data. I agree with you that yes, the relationships can easily be struck with the firms that are producing data – the Twitters and Facebooks and so on – and there’re lots of APIs and so forth. But I think the analytics side of that equation is inadequate.

Lee Congdon: I agree. In fact, I’m sure we’ve identified one provider. I know there are multiple ones out there. We will be learning, based on the capabilities of this new engagement, what’s available. It’s an area of interest to us.

SM: Yes.

LC: But I agree; I think it’s very early.

SM: It must be very early for small businesses to find these kinds of technologies.

LC: For entrepreneurs, I would say there are many, many opportunities in the mobility space, developing applications and addressing emerging business needs there, both on the iOS and the Android platforms.

SM: There’s a ton of entrepreneurship going on in that area.

LC: Right.

SM: Do you have any other thoughts, or is there anything else I should have asked you or any other line of thought that you wanted to explore?

LC: In talking with other IT leaders, prospects, customers, and so on, it appears to me that Linux virtualized on blades is becoming the preferred deployment environment, cloud side, if I’m just looking to do new computing capacity. It’s not only about migrating from legacy Linux; increasingly, we’re seeing people moving into green fields and saying, “I want Linux virtualized on blades, unless there’s some reason not to. But that’s my default computing platform.” Do you see the same thing?

SM: I have not explored that. It hasn’t come up in any of the discussions. Virtualization is coming up in all the discussions. Virtualization has bubbled up to be one of the top optimization items in the IT P&L. There is lots of money to be saved through virtualization. I have to admit I haven’t explored the configuration of virtualization to that extent.

LC: We see it as a stepping stone to the cloud. We probably have 100% of our development environment and 50% of our production environment virtualized today. We’ll have 95% of the production environment virtualized in six months. We see that as a logical stepping stone to deploying those applications in the cloud and having the ability to burst them out to external providers if we choose to do so.

SM: Fair enough.

LC: We certainly see open source as continuing to provide opportunities in the operating system space and the middleware space. I’m predicting that open source virtualization is going to commoditize the hyper visor market. Red Hat and, potentially, Microsoft are going to make it very difficult for VMware to continue its pricing umbrella. Open source is largely winning in the environments I mentioned, particularly, in becoming the mainstream solution for cloud providers. Whether or not they’re identified as open source companies, many of the large consumer firms run their clouds on Linux and other open source technology. Some are starting to donate back to the community.

SM: I think that’s a fair comment. What is your sense of the open source business model? Wherever there is open source, does the commercial open source business model continue to be support and training?

LC: We’ll see how it evolves. I think that’s certainly a component. I expect as we move into the cloud, the same reasons we’re seeing open source being successful in data centers – value, flexibility, security, lack of vendor lock-in – customers will want that from their cloud providers as well. It will be slightly different in the sense that because of the way cloud deployments are going to be structured, where you’re buying a service or virtual machine, pricing and acquisition will different. It’s difficult for me predict exactly how different it’s going to be, but I wouldn’t expect it to be identical to the current subscription model that we and others use for on-premises deployments. I would expect open source to be an important part of it.

SM: We see a lot of … free has become the business model of the Internet. At the same time, free is not really a business model. What I was commenting on is that open source great as long as there is some way to support a business using the model that you’re going to give out the software for free.

LC: Free is not free. Free is I’ll give you services and this and that, and that’s what Red Hat does. But free is I will give you services in return for your social graph, your search terms, your purchase history, maybe you’re location data, and so on. So, free is the consumer selling information about himself. Whether or not that applies in the business-to-business world, it’s probably to a lesser degree. I would expect that we’re not anywhere near end state, yet, but those types of models, like Amazon’s website service of renting virtual machines by the hour, for business-to-business transactions will continue to evolve.

SM: All right. Are there any other concluding thoughts?

LC: I would be remiss if I did not mention our cloud products. We have an offering called Cloud Forms, which is essentially an application orchestration for the data center and for hybrid environments that’s our default model for infrastructure as a service. That product is under development now. We also have a platform as a service offering called Open Shift, which is currently in developer beta. They’re both obviously open source based. We’re very excited about both of those offerings.

SM: Great. Thank you for your time.

LC: Thank you. I enjoyed our conversation.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Lee Congdon, CIO of Red Hat
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