back to article Red Hat’s new CEO on surviving inside Big Blue: 'We don’t participate in IBM's culture. It’s that simple'

Red Hat’s new CEO is feeling confident. It’s a pretty good time to be the head of a company whose entire business is virtual: virtual machines, hybrid cloud, operating system support, Kubernetes containers. These are boom times. If there’s a downside for Paul Cormier, it’s that after nearly 20 years with the company he wasn’t …

  1. Admiral Grace Hopper

    "We are good at winning over the tech people; they are good at the C-suite."

    Which means that I have to be good at disabusing senior managers of the false notions that they picked up at demos from the likes of IBM and RedHat. Our latest battle was persuading them that Satellite didn't work they way that they thought it did and while it could be used to coordinate and schedule what they wanted to do, it was a different suite of software altogether that did the actual job. That was two days of wasted life I'll never get back.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "We are good at winning over the tech people; they are good at the C-suite."

      "it was a different suite of software altogether that did the actual job"

      The UPS supporting the server that ran that suite; wasn't it getting old and fragile?

    2. AdamWill

      Re: "We are good at winning over the tech people; they are good at the C-suite."

      "Our latest battle was persuading them that Satellite didn't work they way that they thought it did"

      Good news! We seem to release a new major version of Satellite every week and they all work differently, so if you wait a couple months, chances are high that this will be fixed ;)

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: "We are good at winning over the tech people; they are good at the C-suite."

        Not in this case, I’m afraid. Boss man thought that the sales droid had shown them Satellite applying hardening rules. What he had been shown, without realising, was Satellite coordinating OpenSCAP to do the job. Cue two days of, “But it was Satellite, we don’t need anything else”, “No, it was SCAP”, on a loop for two days, because it wasn’t the simple fix-and-forget he wanted. Unless the next version of Satellite incorporates the functionality of SCAP then it won’t fix that issue.

        He’s generally a smart guy, but he’s a sucker for a sales pitch.

    3. asdf

      Re: "We are good at winning over the tech people; they are good at the C-suite."

      >He’s generally a smart guy, but he’s a sucker for a sales pitch.

      That does not seem like a desirable trait in a senior director regardless how smart he is.

  2. Adelio

    IBM

    Many years ago being part of IBM was a good thing. The ONLY thing that IBM seems good at now is getting rid of more and more expensive (read "old and experienced") staff to feather the managers bonuses.

    I would not WORK for or buy Anything from IBM now. as for RedHat, Give it time. IBM will start importing the suits to "rationalise" the RedHat business, before finally killing it with a thousand cuts.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: IBM

      "I would not WORK for or buy Anything from IBM now. as for RedHat, Give it time. IBM will start importing the suits to "rationalise" the RedHat business, before finally killing it with a thousand cuts."

      Gini is gione now, there is a new CEO in charge and changes will be made.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM

        You think IBM went bad at Gini?

        Accountants beat the techies and engineers under Gerstner - maybe earlier and I'm just too young to know about it.

        Under Palmisano, the company had largely stopped innovating completely with the majority of innovation coming from companies IBM brought and continuing Gerstners tactic of buying software companies that were key for enterprise customers, reducing development while increasing licensing costs and then throwing it away when enough customers moved to other products.

        Then came Gini.

        If you think Krishna or his successors will do anything different, I have a lovely bridge I can sell you. IBM has $34bn to recover - time for an increase in license costs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IBM

          Under Palmisano, the company had largely stopped innovating completely with the majority of innovation coming from companies IBM brought and continuing Gerstners tactic of buying software companies that were key for enterprise customers, reducing development while increasing licensing costs and then throwing it away when enough customers moved to other products.

          Hence one of my definitions for what IBM meant: "Innovation Bought Monthly".

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: IBM

        Gini is gione now, there is a new CEO in charge and changes will be made.

        Sure, but will those be changes for the better?

    2. fandom

      Re: IBM

      On the other hand IBM has imported Red Hat's CEO, Jim Whitehurst, as president of IBM

    3. spold Silver badge

      Re: IBM

      ...and the only IBM culture grows in the bottom of the coffee cups that the RA'd left behind.

  3. SecretSonOfHG

    It is the IBM PC again

    A business unit that does not follow IBM bureaucracy and rules but gives them enormous advantage. Just like then, it is just a matter of time that the bean counters and bonus-chasers get hold of it and milk RedHat to its bones.

    1. ByTheSea

      Re: It is the IBM PC again

      Having personally lived thru that experience I can say that there is no doubt that will happen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is the IBM PC again

        There's many other examples, especially of companies bought by IBM.

        Lotus and Tivoli spring to mind, but you have many others like ROLM, Transarc, Data Sciences. Sequent. Informix, Rational, Candle, XIV etc. The list goes on and on.

        Hear about any of these recently? No. I thought not.

        Red Hat will continue as an IBM brand probably, like Tivoli, but over time, the culture will be brought into line, and the Red Hat identity will be lost.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: It is the IBM PC again

          There's many other examples, especially of companies bought by IBM.

          Lotus and Tivoli spring to mind .....

          Hear about any of these recently? No. I thought not.

          Having used Lotus Notes at two companies I don't regard that as a bad thing...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is the IBM PC again

            "Having used Lotus Notes at two companies I don't regard that as a bad thing..."

            But were you using Lotus Notes pre-IBM or before the lack of IBM development really kicked in and competing products become far superior or are you talking in the last 10 years when development stagnated before IBM realised there might possibly be some life in one more version and selling of the remnants?

            Up until version 7, Notes was able to compete with Exchange in the Enterprise and arguably scale better although the client was never that great. When Exchange 2007 addressed many of those limits with the move to 64-bit (rather than the glue and sticky tape 64-bit of Windows 2003) and Office 2007 improved the client further, Notes was largely abandoned aside from fixes until Notes 9 in 2013. By which time the number of Notes users had declined dramatically.

      2. ByTheSea

        Re: It is the IBM PC again

        An example of the mindset that takes over... I managed an IBM team that specialised in the supply of customised Desktops to customers. Secenario was that customer goes to their dealer with a request for 10,000 boxes over two years, each with cards and software over and above the standard spec. Dealer maybe has a number of customers like this. So my team spec a package for factory build, complete with costs and delivery schedule, for the dealer. Everyone delighted.

        I casually ask dealer who is supplying the Servers. Dealer says, I cannot sell IBM Servers as customers want rack mounted of which IBM do not have a model. I feed this correspondence up the chain to the Lab who reply in terms that indicate they are unaware of this customer need and in any event the plan for this year and next has been agreed with Corporate. So maybe a rack mounted Server is about 18 months away. PC Business goes down the toilet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is the IBM PC again

          sounds like you were part of the mindset tbh

          1. ByTheSea

            Re: It is the IBM PC again

            You sound bitter tbh.

  4. trevorde

    Mandatory Participation

    Resource Actions

    workforce rebalancing

    firing older, experienced, expensive staff

    offshoring

    1. JDFST

      Re: Mandatory Participation

      RA because of IBM has already hit Red Hat. Approximately 1 month after the acquisition was finalized there were layoffs from the newest Red Hat VP who had just previously grown her wings at IBM in Austin. Things were kept ultra quiet and we were advised to never talk of it again. Those of us still here though were left with the feeling that we could be next. Lesson learned from their sacrafice was to never admit any problem and always praise the holy hat.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    “I have my own HR, own legal, own CFO, own IT"

    Yes, grasshopper, you do. For now.

    Enjoy it while it lasts.

  6. jake Silver badge

    "“We don’t participate in their culture. It’s that simple.”"

    As others have pointed out, ROLM, Lotus, Tivoli ... Where are they now? But honestly, it goes back to the founding of IBM. Where is The Bundy Manufacturing Company? Have you ever even heard of it?

    "Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who is the new president of IBM?

      Did ROLM's, Lotus' or Tivoli's CEO and President became the President of IBM? Which role has the previous CEO and President of Red Hat at IBM? oh, is IBM's new president! Maybe things are a bit different this time.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't last long. Normally at about the 18 month mark, RA's start happening to anyone who doesn't have blue blood running through their veins, and in about 3-5 years, the new company is totally subsumed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RA's are to reduce headcount in mature businesses.

      IBM have their bureaucracy to drive out the talent in promising acquisitions.

      Being such an inexperienced software development company (mind the pool of sarcasm dripping off those words) Red Hat will naturally have to adopt IBM's methods over time to ensure they can meet cost saving targets through not actually doing anything.

      Product development meetings will consist of senior IBM managers laughing at how customers will pay more for RHEL9 when the only change is adding IBM logos and "Red Hat, an IBM company" in a few places and discussing what they will do with their bonuses.

      RHEL10 will fully incorporate IBM's development philosophy and ship 6-7 years later when the future of RHEL is clear.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        What future? I don't call a grave a future.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Ah well, it was good while it lasted

    Sigh. I remember when "you can't make money with open source" and Slashdot used to joke about Bob Young picking up a nickel off the sidewalk and declaring that as income - "Red Hat makes first profit!"

  9. J27 Bronze badge

    Ity's only a matter of time before the IBM borg assimilates them. One false move and it'll happen.

  10. Yes Me Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    'We don’t participate in IBM's culture. It’s that simple'

    That's what Lotus said. That's what Tivoli said. And a host of others over the years.

    It works for about 3 years, before absorption replaces gentle osmosis.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    An Almighty Trojan Acquisition ........

    Anybody want to make a bet that after reading all of the comments here on this thread, Paul Cormier can truthfully say that most everybody haven't a clue about what Red Hat are going to do for IBM.

    Y'all may like to not think IBM have bought Red Hat for $34bn, but rather more IBM are being rented out and supported by Enterprise Linux for such a princely sum ...... for that is the pwn age money shot delivering the goods.

    What say you, Paul Cormier? Is that a safe and secure bet for one to make and win win whilst others of a different mind are destined to lose everything including their shirts whenever staked?

    Maybe El Reg could enquire of Paul Cormier with particular and peculiar regard to all of that and report back to us all here with an updating clarification ...... or right dodgy disappointing denial, of course, if designed to kill off the coopetition?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: An Almighty Trojan Acquisition ........

      Are you seriously suggesting RedHat is going to take over IBM, amfM?

      If you are, may I suggest thumping yourself upside the head with a screwdriver? It would seem your vertical hold is slipping.

      1. Naselus

        Re: An Almighty Trojan Acquisition ........

        "Are you seriously suggesting RedHat is going to take over IBM, amfM?"

        There's every bit as much chance that he's talking about super-sized condoms as he is trojan horses tbh.

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: An Almighty Trojan Acquisition ...... for Win Win/Virtual Marriage/Cake and Cookies to Eat

        Are you seriously suggesting RedHat is going to take over IBM, amfM? ..... jake

        Certainly not, jake, perish the thought ....... for better utilitisation and further development in evolving and revolving IBM leverage and assets is much the greater and easier task to benefit all.

        Would you want to take over a lazy sleeping giant ‽ . Think of the liabilities and expenses whenever it does nothing exciting and great game changing. It's just a bottomless pit into which to throw and lose serious money, if you can imagine that being a serious thing and something to be at all worried about.

        Yes, really, ...... there some folk whose whole lives revolve around such nonsense in the most creative and theatrical of endeavours buying up and dispensing all the worlds' woes rather than servering and seeding everything else.

        Such always reminds me of that Einsteinian quip ......

        Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: An Almighty Trojan Acquisition ........

        Not so much a reverse takeover (in the way that Time-Warner took over AOL, even though AOL were the ones doing the buying). It could be possible (I cannot say how likely though) that some of the Directors realized IBM needs to start adopting some of RedHat's culture, or else die an agonizingly slow death.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: An Almighty Trojan Acquisition ........

          in the way that Time-Warner took over AOL, even though AOL were the ones doing the buying

          I would have used McDonnell-Douglas and Boeing.

          If Red Hat can manage it, I wish them all the luck in the world, but I won't hold my breath.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bit of an advertorial, are we going to have matching ones from Canocial and Suse? Frankly these days you really have very competent competitors to RedHat in both Ubuntu and Suse on the enterprise space. For my own stuff I moved from CentOS to Ubuntu when it was looking like CentOs was on its way out, although I’m glad it’s still going I am unlikely to shift back knowing that IBM have its tentacles slowly moving in. The sad thing is the guy probably believes IBM will leave him alone, and till a couple of missed forecasts that is probably true, but the rot will come.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "Bit of an advertorial"

      Few thoughts:

      * It's Red Hat Summit (virtually) so RH makes its CEO available to journos, and here we are.

      * If Canonical and Suse want to be interviewed, they know where to find us.

      * If you don't see us interview someone, it's unlikely we don't care - it's more likely they don't want to be interviewed by us.

      On more than occasion, a PR has asked me, "what do I need to do to get my client into The Reg?" And my response is: "You should be keeping your client out of The Reg."

      Also, if you've been following Kieren's work, let alone the rest of the site, for a while, you'll know editorial doesn't really do the whole ass-kissing thing in tech.

      C.

      1. Rob V.

        Re: "Bit of an advertorial"

        > And my response is: "You should be keeping your client out of The Reg."

        Thank you for a big laugh I needed after a long day. Indeed... "biting the hand...."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Resistance is futile

    The BORG will assimilate all.

  14. Ilgaz

    Oh really?

    What about recent Facebook ads mentioning how costly free of charge software is? It is like Microsoft's ads back in 90s.

  15. Naselus

    Oh Dear

    He sounds like he genuinely believes all that stuff, doesn't he?

  16. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge

    soooooooo naive

    India Business Machines is LEGENDARY for its ability to strangle things with red tape. Red Hat is the walking dead; it's only a matter of time.

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