RHEL pusher Paul Cormier appointed CEO to lead Red Hat into the IBM era

20-year veteran takes over as Jim Whitehurst becomes Big Blue prez

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Long-serving Red Hatter Paul Cormier has been named president and chief exec as his predecessor, Jim Whitehurst, sets off for fields Big and Blue.

Cormier is very much a Red Hat insider, having joined in 2001 and overseen the addition of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to the company's line-up. He is also credited with pioneering the subscription model that shunted the firms and its wares into boardrooms.

The CEO position had been vacated by Whitehurst, who was due to take up duties as IBM president today, 6 April. Arvind Krishna is also set to commence his tenure as Big Blue's CEO today following January's shenanigans, which saw former boss Virginia Rometty shown the retirement door (by the end of this year, at least).

Whitehurst's tenure at Red Hat saw the company's revenues grow from $500m to almost $3bn before IBM swooped in with an eye-popping $34bn deal to acquire the open sourcer in 2018. Whitehurst then became a veep at IBM.

Cormier, who described RHEL as "by far the most successful thing I ever have or ever will work on", has his work cut out as Red Hat's business is integrated with IBM's. Research, sponsored by Red Hat itself, showed the company enjoyed a substantial share of the worldwide server operating system market ahead of the IBM acquisition. Buddying up with Microsoft will have done no harm to those figures, despite IBM's well-documented struggles to keep its own cloud relevant.

Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

*David Attenborough voice* And here we have, in the wild, a rare glimpse... of what may be... a positive IBM quarter

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Heaping praise on new IBM boss Krishna, whom Cormier insisted was "committed to keeping Red Hat Red Hat", the new Red Hat CEO added, perhaps ominously, that "IBM knows that the best way for us to continue to lead the industry is to allow us to stay on our mission while helping us scale."

Pinned to the famous fedora are IBM's hopes that Cormier and Red Hat will lead the company into a bright, hybrid cloud future. The appointment of an insider is an indicator that the formula is not about to be dramatically tinkered with. ®

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