Red Hat CEO: Choose our way or the Larry Ellison way

Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst confronted the audience at his company's technical conference with a blunt question – do they want flexibility in their IT architectures or do they want what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison supposedly wants.

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Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst confronted the audience at his company's technical conference with a blunt question – do they want flexibility in their IT architectures or do they want what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison supposedly wants.

During his keynote presentation at the Red Hat Summit 2009 conference in Chicago yesterday, Whitehurst covered Red Hat talking points, including how the company is working to build future IT architectures that are flexible and allow its customers to meet demands of their own internal customers. Ellison, on the other hand, presents the opposite of flexibility, according to Whitehurst.

"Do you want to buy into Larry Ellison's vision of what your IT infrastructure should be and what functionality you should provide to your customers, or should you listen to your customers and be flexible," Whitehurst asked. Red Hat and Oracle have been in fierce competition, with Oracle offering customer support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and thus potentially cutting into Red Hat's critical revenue stream. Oracle, contacted after Whitehurst's presentation, declined to respond to his remarks about Ellison.

Whitehurst also described what he termed an "inflection point in enterprise IT," in which new, high-profile ventures, such as Google, Twitter, Red Hat, Facebook, and Wikipedia, all are based on the power of participation.

"These companies would not exist if it were not for open source," and the ability to innovate quickly, said Whitehurst.

Red Hat, he said, believes in a layered architecture where there are layers that should be commoditised. The company also is helping hundreds of customers build clouds, Whitehurst said.

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