Red Hot Topics from Red Hat Summit 2017

6 minute read

Old-timey Planning Is Dead

“Planning, as we know it, is dead,” declared Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, in his keynote address to the 6,000 participants who had descended upon Boston to attend the three-day Red Hat Summit 2017 at the beginning of May.

No longer can we plan prescriptively like we did for the factory floor, Whitehurst continued, since the world today is moving faster than ever before, with a previously unknown level of chaos and unpredictability.

Enterprises have expressed their fear of being “uberized” and their need for swift and flexible digital transformation. Whitehurst emphasized that we need to organize for lightning-speed innovation and there is only methodology that will get us there: open source.

Long Live Open Source

Why open source? Because, as Whitehurst argues, the majority of innovation comes from groups of people working together—that all of us together are smarter than any one of us.

Sam Ramji, vice president of product management for Google Cloud Platform, provided one of the strongest examples of the open source principle with Kubernetes. Google developed Kubernetes; but since releasing it to open source with Red Hat, there have been more than 400 years’ worth of work put into it by the open source community.

What? Let me say that again: 400 years’ worth of innovation was achieved in a fraction of that time through the open source community. Astounding. This is how Red Hat defines innovation for today and the future.

The only way for humans to compete with the sped-up pace of the world is to speed up ourselves—collectively—as a kind of hive mind. Combine the relentless creativity of the individual with the brilliant speed of the hive mind. Form alliances with each other and with technology for the greater good.

“Try, Learn, Modify”

To achieve a new level of organization and innovation in your enterprise, Whitehurst suggests the “try, learn, modify” method. Employees are free to try new things, learn from experience, and then modify to a better way based on that experience. Rinse and repeat. This is, for Whitehurst, a much more experimental approach that creates a context for both individual action and a positive sum gain for both business and technology.

“Best Time in History to Be a Developer”

What does all of this have to do with cloud?

Red Hat believes the future is Open Hybrid Cloud, made application portable. Developers are the key to the success of modern businesses. It is the developers who will push organizations forward.

Paul Cormier, president products and technology, at Red Hat cited 59 percent of clients are planning or already have a multi-cloud environment. Success, he said, stems from the ability to give developers the tools they need to make their lives simpler, quicker and with better outcomes. “Developers need to build on a platform with the confidence their applications will run in the same way everywhere.”

Sam Ramji of Google said we are entering an age of open development and he presented a succinct formula for it:

open development = open source + open APIs + open cloud

Ramji added: it is the “best time in history to be a developer” as every enterprise needs developers to transform their business. The stakes are high, he noted, not just to be secure and flexible, but to be open. Openness, he reminded his audience, is not new; after all, it was key design principle for the internet—a massive, permission-less innovation.

Power to the People: Case Study from the Real World

Overall, core Red Hat technologies are changing the application landscape and systems of engagement in unprecedented ways. Enterprises are investing in interfacing with their clients and giving them control.

One client case study highlighted at the summit: Drs. André Baumgart and Dorothée Rhein Straub, are co-founders of easiER AG, which develops digital products and technology for healthcare systems.

Dr. Rhein had an idea based on her experience as a physician: the waiting times at emergency rooms (ERs) all over Switzerland were often long and unpredictable. What if you could make a reservation for the emergency room like you do for a restaurant or haircut?

Through an engagement with Red Hat’s Open Innovation Lab, Dr. Rhein’s idea was brought from ideation to minimum viable product in just weeks. Two apps were built; one for the hospital, and one for the patient.

They called it the smartER app (smarter ER app) for non-threatening conditions that still required emergency or urgent care. The app makes it possible for a patient to enter their symptoms, scan all nearby health facilities (imagine if you are traveling in an unknown place), and then make an appointment—all on an iPhone.

The patient can then wait comfortably for their appointment at home, avoid clogging the ER, and the hospital can prioritize cases based on urgency and send real-time updates to the patient if the appointment changes.

So the smartER app puts the control over your emergency or urgent care into the power of your own hands—literally—through your iPhone.  The implications of such innovations go far beyond the technology itself.

As John Allessio, vice president of Red Hat Global Services, stated: Red Hat “unleashes the power of the individual to leverage technology to solve real-world business problems.”

Big Announcements at Red Hat Summit 2017 … Drumroll, Please

1. Strategic partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

  • Red Hat is making it easier to access AWS services right from Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. Beyond just offering services, Red Hat and Amazon are also working together on development so they can align release dates and Red Hat customers can gain immediate access to new AWS services.

  • Jim Whitehurst said: “Container adoption is taking off in the enterprise, and this alliance is designed to accelerate that by giving customers access to AWS services directly within Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

2. Containers, containers, containers

  • Red Hat announced its new developer-focused online service,, which provides a new platform for building containers in cloud. “It is a free, end-to-end SaaS development environment for cloud-native apps built with popular open source code. Code is automatically containerized and deployed to Open Shift.”

  • Though containers are only three years old, Red Hat said not only are containers here and here to stay, they are already in use by enterprises such as Disney, Volvo, and Deutsche Bank

  • Red Hat introduced the Container Health Index, which inspects and grades container products from Red Hat as well as those from certified ISV partners. Red Hat said it will be certifying 20 independent software vendor (ISV) partner products within the next 90 days.

3. Microservices

  • Red Hat unveiled OpenShift Application Runtimes—pre-built runtime foundations—with the goal of faster development of microservices across hybrid clouds.

  • But Harry Mower, senior director for developer programs at Red Hat, offered a wise word of advice not to jump into microservices simply for the sake of it: "I'd caution people about jumping into microservices. There are plenty of viable reasons to do [apps] as monolith. And if an app is already running and working, you don't want to mess with something that's good." 

Final Thoughts: How Is a Container Like an Ice Cream Cone?

What is an ice cream cone without the ice cream? As this blog from Red Hat points out, the ice cream is what is truly valuable, while the cone itself is merely a container. It’s the same with Red Hat’s application technology strategy. The real story here isn’t containers. It’s the apps they hold. Your ice cream scoops are the applications that make your business valuable. The cone—or the container—is necessary and makes it possible to enjoy the ice cream.

In other words: Your business should be exciting, not your infrastructure.

The opportunity has never been greater to transform an innovative idea from your mind to the device in the palm of your hand.

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