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This week is our annual Red Hat Summit, a time when many of our nearly 12,000 employees put their work down and come together to work with customers and determine how best to work together moving forward.

This may seem pretty antithetical to the goals of a team like ours, where free and open source projects are the focus, not commericial support and training. But actually customers get just as much benefit talking with the community projects as they do the sales and engineering teams.

Recognizing my own bias, I believe it's important for Red Hat customers to interact with upstram projects because they need to understand that what Red Hat says about open source is more than just lip service—it's something that is in our very DNA.

Too many times, open source is treated as an afterthought, as commercial needs completely drive the features and roadmaps of a given software application, which is then thrown out to a public repository after the fact, almost an afterthought. With Red Hat, it's very much the opposite. Everything is done in the upstream first.

I know what you're thinking: yes, yes, we've heard this all before, the sky is blue, water is wet, yada yada yada. But every year I am surprised by the number of people here at Summit who are still genuinely surprised this is the case. This is the reason, then, why getting community team members in front of customers is critical: so they can build relationships and talk about how they, as customers and general users, can be directly involved in our open source communities and have a say in how our software is created.

They aren't just watchers of our innovation, they are actually able to become a part of our innovation.

The worlds of commercial and open source don't collide. They actually mesh together quite well, demonstrating every day that "open" and "business" are not at odds.

Image by Brian Proffitt.

About the author

Brian Proffitt is a Manager within Red Hat's Open Source Program Office, focusing on content generation, community metrics, and special projects. Brian's experience with community management includes knowledge of community onboarding, community health, and business alignment. Prior to joining Red Hat in 2014, he was a technology journalist with a focus on Linux and open source, and the author of 22 consumer technology books.