Red Hat CEO on patents, open-source virtualisation

Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, speaks on virtualisation, open source and patent settlements.


We come from a different heritage. Our systems usually aren't running at 10%. Linux workloads are a lot higher. The value from our perspective is less around server consolidation and more about what new functionality or architectures can be enabled by virtualisation.

You talk about grid computing, cloud computing, whatever that is. The necessary enabler of that is Linux with integrated virtualisation. Because otherwise what are you going to run on a cloud?

How's middleware business and integration of JBoss going?

We bought JBoss a couple of years ago. I would say it ramped up slowly. We've integrated it. The most fundamental thing we did was we changed the business model. In our basic business model, we take community-developed software and make it consumable by the enterprise by creating fully supported, certified, tested, with the long support life we guarantee.

One of the issues with JBoss, it's ubiquitous in development and test. Everybody loves to use it, but often when it came time to develop something on JBoss it would actually be implemented on something else. Because in production people would say 'well, it's not supported.' In the last six months we went to the enterprise model of JBoss and we're seeing a lot of uptake. Initially that transition took a while but it is really firing on all cylinders now.

Do you come from an open source background?

No. I have an undergraduate degree in computer science and I've been using Fedora and before that other variants of Linux for many years. But I was chief operating officer at Delta Air Lines. I was a partner with the Boston Consulting Group, I come from a pretty buttoned-down corporate world.

So, you're not a typical tech geek?

I'm not a tech geek for a career, but if you ask the engineers I'm pretty geeky at home.

I've got computers all over the place, I always have, all over my house, my wife's always complaining at me. I'm always doing something bizarre on them, programming as a hobby. So I'm a tech geek. It was more of an avocation until now.

Do you guys use Windows at Red Hat?

No. All RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux].

Are there any non-Red Hat technologies you use extensively?

We have some proprietary software for things like our financials. But for the most part we do our best to stay open source wherever we can. We run RHEL on the desktop and OpenOffice, we use JBoss. Our licensing costs are very, very low.

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