In the 2017 Computing Conference, Red Hat announced a strategic partnership with Alibaba Cloud to encourage the adoption of open source technologies for enterprises. As the world's leading provider of open source solutions, Red Hat is dedicated to helping organizations seamlessly adopt technologies that not only fulfil their technical requirements but also match their business models.
In our interview, we spoke with both Michael Ferris, VP Technical Business Development and Business Architecture at Red Hat, and Andrew Habgood, Director, Cloud Partners & Alliances, APAC at Red Hat to get a better understanding of the value of this partnership from a business perspective.
Read on for the interview transcript.
Could you give a quick introduction of yourselves?
Michael: I’m responsible at Red Hat for Business Architecture as well as Technical Business Development with major cloud providers around the world.
Andrew: I’m responsible for the Cloud Partner Program for Red Hat in Asia Pacific.
As a quick start, could you share what was the most interesting topic at the Computing Conference this year?
Michael: Sure. From Red Hat’s and my personal perspective, a lot of what I’ve seen here really emphasizes the massive scale and capabilities of Alibaba Cloud. Certainly understanding more about both of what Alibaba Cloud is doing in open source, as well as artificial intelligence, was really interesting for me watching the different events and different sessions of those two topics.
So talking about open source, what do you think about the overall adoption of open source in the Asia Pacific region?
Andrew: The adoption of open source in Asia Pacific is accelerating tremendously. And it’s really helping to solve the problems in the emerging countries, and give opportunities for rapid innovation in markets that previously were constrained by their ability to access closed source and proprietary technologies.
What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to encouraging businesses in Asia Pacific to adopt open source?
Andrew: I think it’s just being familiar with the actual open source technologies on offer, and how they can provide a secure, robust, stable environment. There are a lot of companies and industries in Asia Pacific that really have not tapped into the benefits that open source development models and the power of the community can give them. But we are seeing a very rapid change. Companies like Alibaba Cloud, being a strong proponent of open source development model, are really helping to drive that transformation.
Recently, Red Hat and Alibaba Cloud has just signed a strategic partnership. Could you elaborate more about this partnership?
Michael: Absolutely! So Alibaba Cloud has joined the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program. This is going to enable Alibaba Cloud to be a validated, trusted, and supported platform for Red Hat customers to consume our technologies in Alibaba Cloud, worldwide. We partnered together to ensure that as customers enable their hybrid cloud and move application workloads back and forth from on premise into the public cloud, that Alibaba Cloud is a trusted provider for all of those customers globally.
Is there any specific implementation plan or roadmap for this partnership?
Michael: So certainly the things we’re doing now is working together over the next several months to enable the technologies that we have in Alibaba Cloud. Following those technology efforts, we’re actually going to be enabling first Red Hat Enterprise Linux for consumption by customers on demand in the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace. And then we’re also going to extend the relationship and allow customers using other Red Hat products, anything from our middleware solutions with JBoss, our automation and management capabilities with CloudForms and Ansible by Red Hat, and certainly even capabilities in the OpenShift platform for container platforms. We’re going to allow customers to move those into Alibaba Cloud through a process we call Cloud Access. This is going to allow customers to have a direct relationship with Red Hat for support and the financial elements of their Red Hat solutions, and then have a relationship with Alibaba Cloud for the technology and the infrastructure and any other services that they use in Alibaba Cloud. Together we can be able to service the customers, sort them as they scale-up and scale-out across multiple deployments.
How important is this partnership for the Asia Pacific market?
Andrew: I think the Alibaba partnership is hugely important for Asia Pacific. There are certainly markets in Asia Pacific that have been reluctant to aggressively move to cloud because of data sovereignty and other issues, and Alibaba Cloud will help them achieve and resolve some of those constraints. We’ve had significant interests, and I know Alibaba Cloud has also had significant interests, from enterprise customers in the Asia Pacific region about moving to a mutual offering. Now that we can finally announce the offering, it’s great and we think there will be some real excitement in the market.
Why did Red Hat choose to partner with Alibaba Cloud?
Michael: It’s all about customers. For several years now, we’ve had an increasing number of customers coming to Red Hat who want to be able to take advantage of Alibaba Cloud’s leadership, both in technology but also global infrastructure. These requests accumulated to the point that it made sense for us to engage with Alibaba Cloud and ensure that it was a trusted destination for our customers. And then we can promise the customers that as they consumed Red Hat products there, we can jointly support, certify, and even have third parties such as Red Hat’s extended ISV ecosystem part of the relationship together with Alibaba Cloud.
Finally, what are the top three trends in open source in the coming years?
Michael: It depends on upon where we’re going. We see certainly the first and probably most aggressively thing that’s happening in the market right now is really all about containers. And certainly our investments in OpenShift and providing a container platform that customers can span both on and off premise is very important. That leads me to the second major thing that we’re seeing in this space, which is hybrid computing. This applies to both at the container level but also the infrastructure level, where customers want to be able to take existing workloads, whether they’re containerized or not, and move them on and off premise. Which then leads to really the third capability that we’re seeing heavy amount of use, which is how do you innovate rapidly using a bevy of open source projects, but you want to be able to ensure they are supported and certified. Red Hat’s engagement with multiple projects from for example artificial intelligence, as Alibaba Cloud is doing, through elements such as big data, really ensures that they have a full ecosystem of support for their open source needs.
What do you think about the trends in APAC?
Andrew: I think Mike’s covered the technology trends quite well. We’ve seen those in APAC as well. I think we’re now seeing APAC customers really using those trends to innovate and actually serve the needs of their local markets very very quickly. So I think along the same lines, but very quickly being adopted in the Asia Pacific market.
Michael: I think it’s important to note that it’s not just about the technology. As customers are maturing their business needs, they want additional services. They want to be able to consume those in a business model that matches their needs, whether or not they are actually deploying applications on them or they are offering services to their customers. So what’s happening in the industry, driven in large part because of the emergence of cloud computing and the innovation it provides, is the business models behind both proprietary but also open source or having the change to match that. And that’s something we are look forward to working with Alibaba Cloud to help enable as customers move forward together.
On February 22, 2018, Alibaba Cloud announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is available globally in the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace on a pay-as-you-go basis. This offering brings more choice and flexibility to customers of both Alibaba Cloud and Red Hat globally.
To learn more about Red Hat for Enterprise on Alibaba Cloud, read the official press release.
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