Red Hat’s CEO Wants To Eat VMware’s Lunch

Jim Whitehurst
Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst

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Most people don’t think of Red Hat, an open-source software vendor, as a cloud company.If they think about cloud computing, they think about’s cloud apps or Amazon Web Services, a set of cloud services used by startups and big companies alike.

But Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst says that the graveyards will be full by the time the cloud-computing revolution is done—and new IT companies will be crowned winners.

Obviously, he wants Red Hat to be one of the grave-dancers.

But he’ll have to traipse over VMware to get there.

VMware pretty much owns a critical data-centre technology called server virtualization. This has pushed it into a leading position in building private clouds, where all the servers and storage in a data centre work together as if they are just one giant machine delivering its computing power over the Internet.

Red Hat, best known for selling service packages for a version of the Linux operating system, is ready for a fight.

Yesterday, Red Hat bought enterprise cloud management startup ManageIQ for $104 million in cash, its third acquisition this year. This follows months of cloud news including rollouts of cloud services and software.

Business Insider talked to Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst to discuss why Red Hat thinks it can push VMware out of its way.

Here’s a lightly edited transcript.

Is it all about the cloud now for Red Hat?

I think we’re in this paradigm shift in computing. The reason you are seeing us and others pursue this really hard is that in a paradigm shift there are apparently only a couple of winners.

We see that open source is the default application architecture that people are writing on for the cloud—I mean the Twitters, and the Facebooks and the Dropboxes. I can’t even fathom how those companies would implement things if not on an open-source stack.

Where Red Hat has value is making all that open-source stuff consumable for the enterprise.

I’m hearing that VMware has all but won the private cloud. How will you compete with that?

Certainly VMware is ubiquitous in enterprises. But they are almost nowhere in public cloud. Almost every public cloud runs an open-source stack. whether its ours or a free open-source stack. So when you get these hybrid clouds, we are ubiquitous in one, they are ubiquitous in the other. We are just starting at a different strength.

We just acquired ManageIQ. One of the use cases is to run it on top of VMware to add visibility and planning, all of those things VMware doesn’t offer.

So who are you targeting as your biggest competitors in cloud?

Thinking of companies who have an architectural vision on how the next generation of computing will unfold, it’s certainly VMware.

It’s a little bit Microsoft, for people who are in Microsoft-dominated worlds, with Azure and all that. 

But certainly VMware.

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