OpenShift engineering guru Matt Hicks becomes Red Hat's CEO

Cormier moves into chairman seat after over 2 years of giving 'em RHEL

Red Hat has a new president and chief executive, appointing Matt Hicks to succeed Paul Cormier in the role.

Hicks was most recently executive vice president of Products and Technologies at the company, while Cormier will now serve as its chairman.

Hicks was responsible for the entirety of Red Hat's product strategy and engineering during his tenure as EVP of Products and Technologies, and Red Hat credits him with helping to expand its open hybrid cloud strategy, based around products such as its OpenShift container-based applications platform.

In fact, Hicks was a "foundational member" of the engineering team that developed OpenShift, Red Hat states. Indeed, speaking to The Reg about OpenShift proposals and code back in 2013, Hicks told us that "the variety of contributions has been impressive."

In the appointment announcement, Red Hat claims Openshift as "the industry's leading enterprise Kubernetes platform," but omits to mention that OpenShift did not originally feature Kubernetes, which was only introduced in the heavily re-engineered version 3 in 2015.

Red Hat said that Hicks has over 25 years' experience in Linux, as well as a background in computer engineering and business acumen, a useful combination of traits for getting ahead in the industry.

In a canned statement, Hicks said: "There has never been a more exciting time to be in our industry and the opportunity in front of Red Hat is vast. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and prove that open source technology truly can unlock the world’s potential.”

Under Hicks’ leadership, Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud strategy has expanded, and OpenShift has no doubt enabled customers to build and deploy applications that can run on-premises or in various public cloud environments, or even multiple clouds.

This now includes managed cloud services to help customers with the development of cloud-native applications, new capabilities to accelerate AI development, and new security approaches that span hybrid cloud environments, Red Hat said.

Meanwhile, that open hybrid cloud strategy was appreciated by more than just Red Hat customers, and led to the company being acquired by IBM back in 2019.

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley conference earlier this year, IBM Software senior VP Tom Rosamilia described OpenShift as the linchpin of Big Blue's overall multi-cloud strategy.

"By rebasing our Cloud Paks on OpenShift, we've now moved all of our middleware to an environment where I can deploy on AWS, I can deploy it on Azure, I can deploy it on the IBM Cloud, and I can deploy it on prem," Rosamilia said.

Cormier was named president and CEO in April 2020, in order to lead Red Hat on its journey into the IBM era. He has been at the company for a long time, having joined back in 2001 and is credited with transforming the open source outfit's Linux platform from a freely downloadable operating system into today's Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with the now familiar subscription-based model for support services.

Cormier himself replaced long-time CEO Jim Whitehurst, who joined Red Hat in 2007. Whitehurst became IBM president, but quit the company last year, having played a pivotal role in the integration between IBM and Red Hat, according to IBM CEO Arvind Krishna.

One of Hicks' final moves as head of Products and Technologies has apparently been to oversee a partnership between Red Hat and machine automation company ABB. The collaboration will see ABB's process automation and industrial software operated using OpenShift for greater flexibility in hardware deployment, according to the two firms.

"Red Hat is excited to work with ABB to bring operational and information technology closer together to form the industrial edge. Together, we intend to streamline the transition from automated to autonomous operations and address current and future manufacturing needs using open source technologies," Hicks said. ®

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