Editor’s note: Today, we announced that Paul Cormier will assume the role of president and chief executive officer of Red Hat, succeeding Jim Whitehurst. Paul shared the following email with all of our associates around the world.
I know it’s unusual to talk about a change like this in this way, normally we would be together, and trust me, I would love to be. But the reality is we’re here. Once again, Red Hatters have come through in a big way for each other and for our customers and partners even under these challenging conditions. This is going to be a marathon and it’s more important than ever to continue to support one another right now.
In light of all of this, I’ve thought about how interesting it is to take on this new role at this time. But, I believe that this is yet another step in the journey that we’ve all been through. The journey of the last 25+ years of Red Hat’s history has been filled with many obstacles. We’ve conquered many together. Trust that Red Hat will come out stronger on the other side. We always have.
We still have a lot to accomplish and together we will. You may have heard me say that for 19 years I’ve had the same job, but that’s not entirely true. The last 19 years have not been a job, they’ve been an adventure! But even more importantly, Red Hat’s journey has been my journey. I’m excited to lead Red Hat in a new capacity and continue the journey.
Looking back to when I joined, we were in a different position and facing different issues, but the spirit was the same. We were on a mission to convince the world that open source was real, safe and enterprise-grade. To do that we had to take risks. Some of those risks were product-related, like the shift to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and some were M&A decisions, like our acquisition of Qumranet (which led to Red Hat Virtualization) and eNovance (which expanded Red Hat Consulting and our OpenStack expertise).
We had the fortitude to take these risks along with the people to tackle them skillfully, ultimately helping to drive real change in the IT industry. Because of our close ties with open source communities, we are able to see trends building before much of the world does. I recall being on stage at Red Hat Summit in 2007 talking about the idea of any application, anywhere, anytime, which very quickly led to open hybrid cloud. No one, and I mean no one, was talking about it at that time. There’s an immense feeling of pride that each and every Red Hatter should feel knowing that the technology industry wouldn’t be what it is today and open source wouldn’t be as dominant without Red Hat. We are all a part of that history.
From those beginnings we’ve brought open source to the point that it's THE development methodology for many areas of enterprise computing including infrastructure, application development and associated tools, and bluntly, real innovation. We not only built our expansive product portfolio using open source methodologies, but we built a company around it. If there’s a secret to our success or a reason why pundits ask if there "will ever be another Red Hat," that’s it: It takes more than just products to build a company. It takes all of us, across all teams and regions, working together. We all play an important role in not only our success and our future, but also the greater success of open source and next-generation computing as a whole, and to continue making Red Hat a great place to work.
Red Hat is at the point where we’ve grown our "Linux company" into a powerhouse, one that serves as a model to others, making us a target for a broad set of competitors, from start-ups to established, publicly-traded behemoths. Sometimes it feels like everyone is now in the commercial Linux and container business (remember containers are Linux), a place that we’ve been building to since 2001.
But I don’t see competition as a bad thing. If we weren’t winning and weren’t a dominant force, people wouldn’t be trying to compete with us. This pushes us to continue to innovate and deliver for our customers, while not becoming complacent. What I see is that we’ve gone from customers who might want to work with us to customers who depend on us. Organizations around the world are embracing open source as not only a powerful development model to build quality software but also as a better way to work together. Our company vision has turned into the industry vision.
To further drive this expansive vision home, Jim Whitehurst came into Red Hat and embraced the open development methodology that has been the cornerstone of our product strategy and took it all the way across the organization. Creating an open organization that many companies now want to emulate. Jim will continue to be a strong ally for Red Hat in his new role as president of IBM alongside Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM. Arvind has been a powerful advocate for Red Hat’s independence and a champion for this both inside IBM and externally. He is committed to keeping Red Hat Red Hat and he knows that part of that is having someone in this leadership position that understands us and what makes the company tick. Someone with the experience and intuition to understand our journey, and an appreciation for our unique culture and way of working. IBM knows that the best way for us to continue to lead the industry is to allow us to stay on our mission while helping us scale.
Every year when I stand up at Red Hat Summit to deliver my keynote and look out at the crowd, it’s the most emotional moment for me. Even after all these years I still get that same wild rush: we built this. We created this unique company that changed the industry.
All that said, future success in technology is not a birthright. As Red Hatters, we know we have to earn it each and every day with our customers. I’m ready to take the next step with you and continue on our journey to being the defining technology company of the 21st century.
I talked earlier about my 19 year journey, call on me and other leaders at any time to help you in your journey at Red Hat. Stay well. Stay in touch.
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.