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Red Hat is invested in helping our customers keep business continuity and we're relying on our people, processes, and technology to navigate the special challenges that we all face from COVID-19. We truly are all in this together. In this post, we'll look at how these have come into play for Red Hat, and what might make sense for your organization in responding to the new challenges we're facing together.

Communications and planning

A lot of Red Hat's plans for early 2020 had to be changed, quickly to address COVID-19. We were able to fall back on our continuity and contingency planning and were able to get to work with the information we had at the time. 

We knew early on that we had to take steps to keep our associates and customers safe, first and foremost. That meant cancelling physical events like our sales kick-offs and pulling out of events to help minimize risk of exposure. 

We also relied on Red Hat's Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC), established years ago for the safety of our teams, to push out updates to the entire workforce. We have specific channels for Red Hatters to reach out for assistance by email or phone and a mobile app that lets Red Hatters check in so we know they're safe. 

Putting it in motion

Many of our associates worked from home already, and we're used to collaborating online with our colleagues inside the company and our partners outside of Red Hat as well as within the open source communities we participate in around the globe. 

But COVID-19 demanded a decisive and abrupt pivot from face-to-face working to virtual events and work from home (WFH) with very little time to deliver. Red Hat has seen regional disruptions before, but this required a global response.

Much of our collaborative infrastructure was already built to scale. For example, we use Google's suite of office tools and Gmail for the bulk of the company, so we didn't need to worry about scaling those tools. But our VPN and single sign-on (SSO) infrastructure was going to face unprecedented traffic, so we needed (and were able to) add capacity quickly to cope with the surge in demand. 

Maintaining relationships

We needed to check in with our partners, suppliers, and customers. No organization stands alone, and Red Hat is no exception. We are there for our customers and partners, and we have vendors we rely on as well. 

We needed assurance, for example, that our video conferencing technology (BlueJeans) could handle the increased load so that we could count on our ability to keep collaborating. Happily, they've been very responsive and supportive as we face this together. 

Likewise, our customers have wanted help and assurance. Assurance that Red Hat can continue to deliver the same level of quality, security, and support. Help with their emergent needs, whether that's scaling down due to reduced demand, or scaling up rapidly to cope with spikes in demand. 

We've also needed to address the impact of COVID-19 on things like training and certification. Obviously we can't conduct in-person training as planned right now, and we don't want Red Hat certified professionals to worry about certification renewal. So we've made adjustments to our certification expirations, cancellation policy, virtual training class offerings, and more

Technology: The tools we rely on

For organizations that have been embracing DevOps, digital transformation and standardizing on a single operating system to simplify operations, this may have been an easier (but we wouldn't say easy) transition. If you have a substantial portion of your workloads in the public cloud, it's easier to scale up or down as necessary. 

Organizations that have embraced automation like Red Hat Ansible, as well as tools like Red Hat Insights, are also reporting that they're better prepared because their teams aren't as bogged down with simply keeping the lights on (so to speak) while coping with rapid change. If your organization hasn't already started its path to automation, now may be a good time to start. This is particularly true if you have reduced demand in other areas and can take this time to retrain and refocus some of your IT operations staff. 

Right now, it's a good idea to think about roles as having a bit more flexibility than usual. We're all having to adapt and respond to new challenges, and having organizational knowledge and understanding of the business is more important sometimes than domain knowledge. You can train for technology, but culture and organizational understanding take much longer. 

Our people, our processes and our technology have helped us through difficult problems and difficult times before, and we're confident that we will adapt to rapid change once again. We're also here to help the organizations that depend on us, and continue to look for ways to support our customers through this unusual time.

Join Marco, Mike, and other Red Hat leaders on April 23 at 2:30 p.m. EDT for a candid panel discussion and Q&A on business continuity or view the recording on-demand.

About the authors

Marco Bill-Peter is the senior vice president of Customer Experience and Engagement (CEE) at Red Hat. CEE is responsible for increasing the value customers and partners receive from their relationship with Red Hat. In addition to technical support delivery and strategic customer engagement, Bill-Peter's organization is responsible for the award-winning Red Hat Customer Portal, quality engineering, DevOps, product certifications, product security, product documentation, and translation services.

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As Chief Information Officer, Mike Kelly is responsible for leading the information technology (IT) organization at Red Hat Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions. Since joining the organization in 2016, Kelly has focused on leading the IT team as they provide the tools and technologies that enable Red Hatters every day. Before joining Red Hat, Kelly served in senior leadership roles at McKesson Corporation, including as Senior Vice President of IT Shared Services and Chief Information Officer, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical from October 2012 to August 2016 and Senior Vice President, Enterprise Application Services from May 2011 to October 2012. Kelly also served as Chief Information and Chief Technology Officer of McKesson Specialty Health, a division of McKesson Corporation, from October 2007 to May 2011 and as Chief Information Officer of Oncology Therapeutics Network from October 2005 to October 2007.

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