Red Hat, the Massachusetts-based enterprise software open solutions company, was recently purchased by IBM. It prompted the company’s 12-year CEO Jim Whitehurst to leave his role and accept the job as president of IBM.
To fill the considerably large shoes of Whitehurst, Red Hat tapped long-time engineer and president of products and technologies Paul Cormier as its new CEO.
Industry insiders said Cormier was the obvious choice. He had been a major driver behind the decision for Red Hat to drop its consumer-oriented Linux operating system, even though it had been the company’s flagship product since the 1990s. Cormier felt that a wiser path forward was to focus on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Furthermore, Cormier played a central role in many of Red Hat’s successful acquisitions over the years.
Paul Cormier brings some 40 years of tech experience to his new role as Red Hat CEO. His father was the facility manager for the Digital Equipment Corporation of Massachusetts. Paul’s dad got him a job that placed him with a group of engineers who proceeded to train him in Logic. This gave him the skill he needed to fix circuit boards for computers.
This skill set served him well when he went on to Fitchburg State University and later the Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned his graduate degree in engineering.
Despite the acquisition by IBM, Cormier said that it is vital that Red Hat retains its independence. That’s because this firm works with other cloud providers beyond IBM, including Microsoft, Google and Amazon. All of these companies compete, and thus, they would not want to work with Red Hat if they felt their proprietary projects would “leak over,” as Cormier put it. He said that Red Hat was recently obligated to prove to Intel and others that they could “put up a wall.”
On his promotion to the top job from within the ranks of Red Hat, Cormier said going outside to find a leader was “probably impossible.” The reason, he said, is due to Red Hat’s unique business model and special internal corporate culture. It is quite unlike any other major tech company.
As for the road ahead, Cormier said he believes that Red Hat must play the role of “top hybrid provider” within its sector. That means growing to command 60% of the hybrid cloud market within the next five years. Cormier estimates that figure today for Red Hat sits at about 40%.