Red Hat was formed on the back of the continued success of Linux
to become the strongest brand around. Colin Tenwick was
appointed vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the
beginning of July last year.
In what way do you think the breaking up of Microsoft
will affect the adoption of alternative operating
I think the judge was saying that the company has not been
operating in the interests of the consumer, and what it has been
doing is an abuse of power. In my view, anything that further
enables free competition in the market is good news.
I think it's interesting that, even without the judgement, the
rise of Linux seems to beat all records. It is driven by the shift
to new economies on the web, with the majority of people now using
Linux as an operating system in that environment.
Other things were powering the growth of open source. The
judgement simply proves that the old 1980s proprietary environment
personified by companies like Microsoft is not good for
Do you see Red Hat making significant inroads on the
desktop market because of it?
It's a completely different issue on the desktop side. By the time
the ruling goes through all its various claims, counter-claims and
appeals, we may be looking at a totally different front-end
To be honest, as a platform the desktop side is a pretty boring
environment. Yes, it's around but, increasingly, the belief is that
the post-PC device is the area that will see the most growth.
Our aim is to be the platform of choice on those devices, and we
are doing pretty well. That said, if the break-up means we will see
the ultimate success for Linux, with all the productivity tools
ported over to Red Hat, then it's very good news.
So do you feel that third-party support is holding you
I think we are making big inroads. When we floated the company in
August last year we had about 200 applications certified for Red
Hat. By the end of last quarter it was in excess of 3000. That sort
of growth has never been seen before.
The applications we have cover a very broad area, ranging from
the enterprise level with Sap, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, down to
a whole raft of ecommerce software. You would always like to have
more applications, but given the pace of what we are doing I
believe we are making huge inroads.
Analysts say the only way to solve this problem is to
open up the Windows source code. Will this happen?
Until we see it, I don't believe it will happen, because it's so
counter-cultural for these companies. I suppose it was similar with
Sun and its community sourcing, which is like being
I think any company that started in proprietary mode will find
it difficult to give away its core technologies. What we are
starting to see, which is very interesting, is intelligent debate
about what their core businesses are. In many cases, parts of their
technologies would benefit if they were open sourced.
Examples are starting to appear, such as Intel releasing $20m
(£12.5m) worth of code into the open source community a
couple of weeks ago. I think some companies have really neat
technology that isn't critical to their future success but that, by
open sourcing, can get a huge boost in terms of development.
If, 18 months ago, you had said companies such as IBM, SGI, Dell
and Intel would be releasing code into open source, most people
would have said you were crazy. I think we have demonstrated with
the open source community that it is a fundamentally different way
of going about things.
Do you see Sun's Solaris 8 community sourcing as a
What you are starting to see is people having to react to this new
approach. One reaction is to ignore it, while another is to open up
some code or take away the cost issue by making an operating system
The reality is that people don't use Linux because it's free but
because of its total value - its technology, its momentum and its
When we talk about the high end, however, such as the big
EUR10000 platforms, there are huge advantages with Solaris that
Linux can't get to yet. However, we are demonstrating that, with
the pace of change and innovation, you can measure that gap in
months rather than years.
What impact do you think the eagerly awaited Intel IA-64
will have, and will you design code specifically for
People are only just beginning to see the huge impact that IA-64
will have, and we have been writing code for it. The fact that open
source development and debugging kits for IA-64 have been around
for some months means that Red Hat will be available for those
products when they become available.
I think what you'll see is an architecture that provides Unix
performance at Intel pricing. Once you have an operating system
that is beginning to scale to 32 or 64 processors, then you start
to have interesting conversations about what role proprietary
operating systems have to play. If you look at all the IDC data,
Linux is growing predominantly at the expense of traditional Unix
and that's where most of the market is going.
Why is Linux winning Unix customers?
There are a number of reasons. From a Unix hacker's perspective,
Linux delivers what Unix always promised. From a platform basis, it
gives someone with Unix skills an easy transition, and the cost
involved is relatively low.
The more popular an operating system gets, the more
targeted it is by hackers. How do you see this affecting Red
I think that there are a couple of issues. One is that there are
more people checking and developing code in an open source
environment than a proprietary one. The second is that you will
always get issues with software, but with the open source area you
have the best talent working on fixing the bugs.
For example, the US Department of Defense used the open source
community to help it fix bugs on some of its major sites. I think
there is a lot of misinformation spread around the market.
Architecturally, Linux is safer than, let's say, an NT
Do you see the many different flavours of Linux holding
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Linux is an operating
system - it's not. Linux is a series of packages based on a common
kernel and it's that kernel that gives all the various projects
their family tree.
There is a clear focus from all the major players to remain true
to that development model. By having all these packages, and a
consistent method of integrating them, what you get is different
flavours of Linux for different areas of the market.
Red Hat is targeted at the server market, and now at the
embedded space. We do not aggressively target the desktop market.
What you'll see is companies focusing on particular niches, and
that's inevitable. Red Hat is the market leader now but our
competition is not the other Linux distributors, it's the big
What do you see the next two or three years holding for
There are two critical areas that Linux is going into. The first is
to continue developing its strength, which is dotcoms. We are
worldwide market leader in web servers now, with 34 per cent market
The second is that we are moving towards embedded space. This is
the exploding market where Linux becomes more apparent to a new
generation of users.
So you'll be hoping that the dotcom bubble doesn't
I think that the dotcom bubble won't burst. But clearly there are
going to be winners and losers.
You have recently purchased internet performance
management vendor, Bluecurve. Why?
It is the first of our steps towards building more functionality
into server management services. The next stage is to build up the
service offering because it's clear that customers need more
automated tools, such as automated load balancing.
The other thing we have announced is the formation of Red Hat
Ventures, which is a fund of up to $50m (£30m) that will let
us invest in developing the economy for open source. This will
allow us to make selective investments into companies to help
develop new technologies or services that are open source
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