Now under IBM control, Red Hat aims to reassure the channel

Hybrid cloud key as open source specialist outlines ecosystem plans

As the ink dries on IBM’s blockbuster acquisition of Red Hat, the open source specialist has moved to reassure the channel that partners remain a pivotal part of future plans.

Billed as one of the largest deals in technology history, the move sees Big Blue assume control of Red Hat in a bid to create a market leader in hybrid cloud.

The acquisition also brings two distinct partner ecosystems closer together, with IBM publicly stating its desire to keep the Red Hat channel separate - at least for the foreseeable future.

“You’ve heard that IBM is committed to preserving Red Hat’s independence, neutrality, culture and industry partnerships, and that Red Hat’s unwavering commitment to open source remains unchanged,” said Mark Enzweiler, senior vice president of global channels and alliances at Red Hat. “There is a key part of that statement I want to focus on - partnerships.

“IBM has made a significant investment to acquire Red Hat, and respects that Red Hat wouldn’t be Red Hat without our partner ecosystem. Partners open more doors for open source than we can alone and are vital to our success.”

As reported by Channel Asia, Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and its current management team. Whitehurst is joining IBM's senior management team, reporting to IBM chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty.

Looking ahead, Enzweiler said the vendor can “thrive” through not only preserving its partner ecosystem, but through extending in-market relationships.

“Importantly, IBM and Red Hat will operate separate partner programs and cultivate distinct partner ecosystems,” Enzweiler added. “Together, we will continue to build and expand our work with organisations around the world and across industries.

“What’s new today is that we have one of the largest, time-tested and recognised technology leaders standing behind us. With IBM there is a multiplier for our partners and we will open those pathways where it makes sense.”

According to Enzweiler, opportunity exists within the “open hybrid cloud” space, with partners well-placed to capitalise through unrivalled access to IBM offerings.

“We’ve been talking about hybrid cloud for years and have built a strong and flexible open hybrid cloud portfolio,” he said. “Now, we’ll also have access to the scale and depth of IBM’s innovation and industry expertise, which our partners can take advantage of to build new services for customers.

“It really is the best of both worlds for our partners. There is an exciting opportunity in front of all of us to scale and accelerate our partner efforts while maintaining what we worked together to build. Together, we can unlock the true value of hybrid cloud for business.”

In a direct message to the channel, Enzweiler said Red Hat remains committed to driving market growth through solution providers, certified cloud and service providers (CCSPs) and global systems integrators, alongside independent software vendors (ISVs), embedded, technology partners and training partners.

The vendor will also continue to build on a “longstanding relationship” with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), in addition to recruiting new partners.

“Flexibility and choice are inherent to open source and hybrid IT, and that extends to our partner relationships,” Enzweiler explained. “Whether you’re consulting, building and certifying technologies, or offering services and Red Hat solutions, we value your partnership.”

Enzweiler said Red Hat is “working closely” with IBM on synergies that will make it easier for partners interested in offering both Red Hat and IBM solutions to do so. For example, Red Hat partners can apply to IBM PartnerWorld, while IBM business partners are invited to apply for Red Hat Partner Connect.

“There is an underlying truth that has guided our ecosystem for years - we can create better solutions and solve customer challenges more quickly and creatively when we work together,” Enzweiler added.

“That’s not going to change. Our investment in the partner ecosystem will continue to be a priority for us and we will approach our relationships with partners with the same open source spirit built on transparency, collaboration, engagement and community.

“We want the ecosystem to grow and to do that we need our partners to be actively involved in the strategy and development.

“From where I sit, the future looks bright and my hope is that that we enter into our next phase focused on opportunities. Red Hat partners are a vital part of Red Hat’s business and will continue to play an important role in the future.”