Red Hat CEO lauds open source’s progress

For years, Red Hat executives fielded questions about its open source software from prospective customers: “Is open source safe? Is it secure? Is it reliable?”

But such inquiries have faded as open source software has gained momentum, CEO Jim Whitehurst wrote in a recent blog posted on the website of the Raleigh-based company. Red Hat is the leading open source software company.

“Today, it is almost impossible to name a major player in IT that has not embraced open source,” Whitehurst wrote. “Only a few short years ago, many would have argued we would never see that day.”

Once upon a time, Whitehurst noted, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates commented: “So certainly we think of [Linux open source software] as a competitor in the student and hobbyist market. But I really do not think in the commercial market, we’ll see it [compete with Windows] in any significant way.”

Fast forward to this year, Whitehurst continued, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented: “Microsoft loves Linux.”

More than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are Red Hat customers today.

“Open source was initially adopted for low cost and lack of vendor lock-in, but customers have found that it also results in better innovation and more flexibility,” Whitehurst stated. “Now it is pervasive, and it is challenging proprietary incumbents across technology categories. It is not only mainstream, open source is truly leading innovation in areas like cloud, mobile, big data, the Internet of Things, and beyond.”

Whitehurst also talked up the improved competitive environment that Red Hat faces on the company’s quarterly earnings conference call last week.

“I actually had a customer say, oh yeah, Red Hat. You don’t get fired for buying Red Hat,” Whitehurst said. “So you know we must be going mainstream.”