Issue #21 July 2006

Red Hat Speaks

Gabriel Szulik, Senior Director of Corporate Development Latin America

What do you do at Red Hat?
After spending my first 5 years at Red Hat in Investor Relations, I moved to a Business Development role about a year ago. I am mostly involved in initiatives related to international expansion, and the integration with JBoss.
Tell us about Red Hat Latin America. Will there be offices in new locations?
Red Hat now has two entities in Latin America: Red Hat Argentina (based in Buenos Aires) and Red Hat Brazil (based in Sao Paulo). Both entities are the result of acquisitions of two of the subsidiaries of our Master Distributor in South America. Argentina will provide full support to all of Spanish-speaking Latin America, whereas Brazil will of course support Portuguese-speaking Brazilian territory. Roughly 30 employees, half in Brazil and half in Argentina, have joined the company. They represent sales, Global Support Services (GSS), Global Learning Services (GLS), marketing, and administration.
Both support centers (Portuguese and Spanish) are already an integral part of Red Hat's GSS group--and have been for over a year. They are made up of excellent technical people--all Red Hat Certified Engineers®--who also perform duties related to training and consulting.
How will this announcement change Red Hat?
Up until now, Latin America had remained a region with no Red Hat presence. Now Red Hat has a direct presence, with broad coverage in that region. Brazil, which together with India and China represents one of the largest emerging markets in the world, is no doubt a strategic market for Red Hat. It has an active open source community (that includes Fedora), a thriving financial services sector, a growing software industry, well-reputed technical schools, and large enterprise accounts that already use Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® in a significant way.
This entrance into the Latin American market will allow Red Hat to capitalize on increasing demand for open source technologies and services, coming from both the public and private sectors.
Latin America appears to be emerging as a major global market for open source software. How is Red Hat participating in the growing Latin American market?
Red Hat works closely with enterprise customers, stays close to government agencies making decisions on critical legislation related to open source and software procurement, understands the local/regional educational markets, and interacts with leading technical institutions. Also, especially in Brazil, we need to better understand the needs for certification of local ISVs and OEMs like Microsiga, Datasul, Itautec, and Novadata. This will allow Red Hat to stay ahead of the competition in terms of adoption, and will be a key factor in Red Hat's reputation as a local player.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Red Hat in Latin America?
The enterprise market is moving off of UNIX and Windows platforms and to an open source environment. The SMB and desktop markets are also showing increasing interest in adopting Linux as their preferred platforms. Just as it's happening in other emerging economies, working with partners such as Intel, Oracle, and others will help capture some of these opportunities.

However, at the end of the day the key will be hiring. Red Hat must continue to hire the best and the brightest, build strong relationships with local customers and partners, and provide excellent customer service in the region. It is also very important to succeed early and absolutely with a few large strategic accounts. Much of Red Hat's success with early adopters has come from the development of big accounts. If you can take the strategic accounts and make them successful in their deployments and their migration plans, the market takes notice of that. So we have been working very closely with a number of strategic accounts in Latin America and are identifying champions in these accounts who understand the strategic and economic value that Red Hat brings. We must make them successful in the next 12 months, which is what will make the company increasingly successful in the region.

The use of JBoss is also very pervasive across Latin America. To date, JBoss has had zero presence in the region, which represents a tremendous opportunity. Increasingly, customers in Latin America require supported versions for their Java environments, and the combined presence of Red Hat and JBoss in the region will allow us to capitalize on numerous business opportunities in the short term.

What are the most significant challenges that we face?
Education, education, education. We must continue to educate the markets on the virtues of open source. We also want to acclimate these 30 individuals in Latin America who have never worked for a large, global company with such a unique culture. The faster we can do this, the better we can represent the whole company. Global expansion brings cultural, business, logistical, legal, and tax challenges. There are so many dimensions to global expansion. The key is to understand the local markets, hire the right people, and continue to think globally but act locally.
If there is one thing that you feel that everyone should know about Red Hat Latin America, what would it be?
I truly hope that many Red Hat associates and customers get the chance to personally meet our new associates in Latin America. They represent a highly diverse group of people with intellectual curiosity, strong technical skills, and fascinating backgrounds.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I love to read about business, history, and aviation; I enjoy playing golf and chess with my son, and tennis with my daughter; I love traveling with my wife and children, especially driving to the beach or the mountains; finally, I love cooking on the grill, especially a good Argentinean "asado."