Each year around this time people ask, "what’s the big trend?" or "what’s the new technology we should be watching?" But the truth is, immediately adopting the "next big thing" isn’t the best strategy for CIOs, trivializing the longevity and impact of IT in an organization. Some technology persists for decades if not longer, and the decisions IT leaders make today can affect their organizations’ nimbleness and market response down the road, whether it’s in two years or 20. As new infrastructure is being built out, you can’t just leave behind existing systems and tools. That’s not practical or sustainable. So how do you maintain existing systems that are critical to your operations while still keeping pace with a rapidly evolving IT world?
The answer is simple. You need products and services that work with your existing stack. CIOs and organizations need to focus on creating a platform that enables their current technology to evolve to meet new needs. That’s the value of open source.
A single, open thread of innovation
As technology needs span far outside the traditional realms of the datacenter and public cloud environments, consistency is now more crucial than ever to successful IT organizations. Adding new technologies haphazardly isn’t enough to meet these demands. Rather than run to what’s new first, IT organizations should look at modernizing existing infrastructure and IT solutions investments. Combining existing systems with new technologies, whether it’s containers and Kubernetes or cloud services and edge computing, represents a sustainable future for IT.
When these technologies work together, utilizing the services where they may live, across the open hybrid cloud, from traditional data centers to public cloud environments to edge devices, we see innovation happen. Running through all of these services, environments and technologies, both old and new, there is a common thread: open source. Much, if not all of this code, was created in open source communities. Open source provides a lingua franca for production applications running in a server room to communicate and interact with microservices on the public cloud — open is the future, and the cloud is hybrid.
With the CIO’s environment changing so drastically, every CIO is now a cloud operator. You should leverage the innovation engine to deploy your innovation in the right places for optimization. Don’t think of transformation as having to leave behind the systems and tools you have in place, instead translate them into the cloud. You’ve invested the time and resources into the software, talent, skills and code to develop what you have now. The value lies in these things that your team has constructed; this is your foundation. Don’t lose sight of where innovation comes from — it comes from you.
The open hybrid ecosystem
I’ve said it many times before but Red Hat would not be Red Hat without our partner ecosystem. Open source has taught us that many problems are too big for any single vendor to solve on their own and no vendor can act alone in a hybrid cloud world and succeed. Our partners, from the channel to ISVs to systems integrators and beyond, are absolutely central to our strategy in driving IT modernization and open hybrid cloud for customers. These partners and the programs that we have in place with them play a critical role in enabling customers to access the certified tools and services they need to enable true innovation.
An example of this collaboration is with our cloud partners and the managed Kubernetes services, based on Red Hat OpenShift, that we have co-developed with them — OpenShift Dedicated, Red Hat OpenShift on AWS (ROSA) and Microsoft Azure Red Hat OpenShift (ARO). We did this because that’s what our customers were asking for - jointly supported and maintained services that lean on the expertise of both Red Hat and our cloud partners. These services help create greater flexibility and choice for our customers, and open up new opportunities for both Red Hat and our partners, providing expanded deployment options across the open hybrid cloud.
We’ve also worked to bring Ansible, our enterprise automation platform, more completely into our partner ecosystem to help customers better scale, collaborate and manage their IT environments and processes enterprise-wide. The continued evolution of hybrid cloud makes automation and management even more important within increasingly complex environments, especially as customers face constantly evolving regulatory environments and threat landscapes. To help extend automation across the hybrid cloud, we’ve unveiled Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure, the first Ansible automation service on a major cloud provider platform. Ansible, and the thriving automation world that surrounds it, is a crucial component for our partners and customers to scale and manage IT environments enterprise-wide.
Whether it’s an IT organization wanting to stand up their own Red Hat OpenShift environment on bare metal, a CIO looking to transform IT using cloud.redhat.com or a development-forward group that wants to take advantage of the simplicity and streamlined nature of managed cloud services like Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS or Azure Red Hat OpenShift, we want to address customer requirements and access wherever they exist on the hybrid cloud.
Where we go from here
I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the elephant in the room as we look at 2022. We are still not out of the pandemic. Organizations have settled into new ways of operating and that approach is going to persist into the future. There’s no going back to where we once were. An area I take particular pride in is that open source communities and Red Hat have been a blueprint for distributed collaboration long before the pandemic and for many other organizations throughout the pandemic. We continue to set this example, namely, because we had more than a 25-year start! We have been and will continue to help companies learn how to work remotely and meet immediate customer needs, while adding the agility to adapt to a still-unknown future.
In the 2022 Red Hat Global Tech Outlook report, we heard feedback that customers are doubling down on digital transformation efforts in the wake of the COVID-19, leading to the continued rise of hybrid cloud strategies. No surprise there, considering the moves I saw many businesses make towards the open hybrid cloud even before the pandemic. With this in mind, we are continuing to work to lower the barriers to embracing the open hybrid cloud, namely by enhancing ease of use for our customers. We see organizations looking for solutions that meet their existing deployment needs and that don’t require them to adjust their operations to use new technology. As a solution, we’ve made our technologies easier to consume for our customers.
The nature of connectivity isn’t static — even without the pandemic, 5G would be changing everything, both for consumers and as a foundation for new lines of business and revenue streams for our customers. Hand in hand with 5G is edge computing, which led us to extend our efforts with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat OpenShift to better fuel telecommunications innovation and address the growing demand for edge technologies outside of telco, including Industry 4.0. We’re not creating a standalone offering with edge (no ‘Edge Edition’ of RHEL); instead, this is about incorporating edge use cases into everything that we already do. This helps further our strategy for building and managing applications in the most consistent way possible, from the server room to the furthest reaches of the cloud and beyond.
We also continue to recognize the growing importance of artificial intelligence and machine-learning (AI/ML) to the broader enterprise world. We continue to invest in our new data platform, Red Hat OpenShift Data Science, which lays the AI foundation (some call it plumbing) for AI apps, both homegrown and those from ISV partners, across the hybrid cloud and multiple computing architectures.
At this point, it’s almost a misnomer to say that "other clouds" exist. It is all hybrid. And hybrid is linking whatever you have currently with wherever you need to go. That’s all. No asterisks or caveats required. When looking at your approach to hybrid, ignore the pressure to either abandon your existing infrastructure for the next big thing or to stick with what you have. You don’t have to make a choice, you can have both when you look to innovate with open source solutions and Red Hat. And it starts with you.
About the author
Paul Cormier is president and CEO of Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise IT software solutions and services. Before being named president and CEO in April 2020, Cormier was president of Products and Technologies at Red Hat, driving major strategy shifts and expansion of the company’s portfolio of products and services.