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Ex Red Hat CTO installs self as Google Cloud boss

12 years and all I got was this lousy 25-word 'goodbye'?

Red Hat’s former technology chief Brian Stevens has floated over to Google to run its cloud operations.

Stevens suddenly left the Linux distro maker and aspiring OpenStack cloud fluffer after 12 years as executive vice president and chief technology officer.

As of this month, Stevens has become Google’s vice president of cloud platforms - just days after leaving Red Hat. He posted the new position on his LinkedIn page but there were no details about what exactly his new role entailed.

Stevens’ exit from Red Hat was announced on August 27 in a shockingly brief and somewhat terse statement given his tenure.

“We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat’s business. We wish him well in his future endeavors,” said president and chief executive Jim Whitehurst said in a canned statement. Head of products Paul Cormier is temporary CTO.

The brief, 25-word goodbye and sudden nature of Stevens’ exit suggests Red Hat’s former CTO and his bosses did not part on good terms.

As far as executive blood goes, Stevens had become Red Hat: he joined in 2001 having joined from beefing up the ent creds of Mission Critical Linux as CTO. Red Hat was founded in 1993 and Stevens helped take the company beyond being merely a Linux desktop distro into something serious.

He helped it survive the great dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century which claimed lesser start-ups, pushing Red Hat to become a $1.06bn revenue company.

The $1bn number is a magic totem for any software company to touch on its growth plan.

He oversaw engineering of the JBoss app server middleware bought by Red Hat in 2006, killing the company’s own efforts on the JOnAS app server it licensed. JBoss helped drain BEA Systems' business, sending it into the arms of Oracle.

He also oversaw Red Hat’s engineering on OpenStack cloud, virtualization, management, security, big data and – yes – the company’s first love, Linux, turning Red Hat into a buttoned-down enterprise desktop and server distro.

Red Hat has beat the drum for the “open cloud," joining OpenStack and it been hiring engineers R&D costs grew 22 per cent in its most recent quarter thanks to hiring. Red Hat has also made acquisitions, including Inktank for Ceph storage on OpenStack for $175m in cash, this year.

But OpenStack remains a difficult proposition to for everybody to get right and Red Hat’s cloud business has struggled to find its niche.

Growth is coming from JBoss and its OpenStack and OpenShift cloud offerings, but the Linux distro remains the real reason for buying Red Hat – 86 per cent of subscription revenues from the last quarter came from the company's infrastructure offerings, which mainly means Red Hat Enterprise Linux.®

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