VNU Net: Man in a Red Hat: the Colin Tenwick interviewMay 26, 2000, 13:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Rae)
By David Rae, VNU Net
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 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 consumers.
Do you see Red Hat making significant inroads on the
desktop market because of it?
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
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?
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
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 TCO.
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
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?
The more popular an operating system gets, the more
targeted it is by hackers. How do you see this affecting Red
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 environment.
Do you see the many different flavours of Linux holding
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 guys.
What do you see the next two or three years holding for
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
You have recently purchased internet performance
management vendor, Bluecurve. Why?
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 oriented.
[ First published in Network News ]