Red Hat CEO Whitehurst: Open Source Better, Faster

Feb 11, 2009

After a year as its head, Jim Whitehurst has issued a financial assessment of the Red Hat Linux distro and spoke of its future plans. He sees the company braced for success, with an advantage over its proprietary competitors, thanks to Open Source.

Whitehurst quotes increased sales in 2008 for Red Hat, with a clear nod to a continuing rosy future with Open Source. Not to be over-modest, he calls his recent press release the "State of the Union at Red Hat." The yearly results gave him reason for optimism: "In fiscal year 2008, Red Hat became the first open source vendor to cross the $500 million mark in revenues and we’ve also maintained 27 consecutive quarters of sequential growth in total revenue." In December he had already prognosticated opportunities for Open Source despite the current economic climate in an interview with Linux Magazine Online. He now sees his forecast confirmed: "With the current economic downturn, IT budgets are shrinking while expectations for performance, quality and innovation continue to grow... I continue to see great opportunities for... the open source community."

It is just this community of proponents of a steady give-and-take that the former CEO of Delta Airlines considers the crux of the competitive advantage: "I’ve met with customers and partners all over the world during the past 13 months and have heard great stories about companies who are not only consumers of Red Hat and open source, but who have also contributed back." Whitehurst plans to use these relationships "to develop solutions that serve real needs and solve real problems." He acknowledges that two Red Hat acquisitions were particularly welcome in this respect: virtualization vendor Qumranet in September 2008 and system integrator Amentra earlier in March of that year. Whitehurst summarizes with, "While Red Hat may be small in comparison to the proprietary giants we challenge, our open source culture promotes the free exchange of ideas and enables us to deliver better software, faster."

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