Enlightenment from the Red Hat EMEA Partner Conference


Red Hat EMEA Partner Conference 2017

Last week I was a delegate at the Red Hat EMEA Partner Conference in Frankfurt, spending quality time with senior Red Hat product managers, marketing VPs and fellow partners from across the region.

Three days of visioning, tech updates, product roadmaps, knowledge sharing and contextualising the changing face of enterprise IT.

And what change there is.

As a business, Red Hat is a phenomenal success story. The conference opening keynote from EMEA VP & General Manager Werner Knoblich referenced 60 consecutive quarters of growth and whilst we were in conference the 61st quarter earnings update was released in the US – it smashed the highest forecasts. Analysts seem to be underestimating the power of open source technology and the Red Hat business model.

And that’s not the only thing being underestimated it appears. A keynote talk from David Chalmers, VP & Chief Technologist at Hewlett Packard Technologies was a thought provoking peek into the future.

When a man who’s seen several decades of change tells you he’s never experienced the rate of change being seen now, driven by digital transformation, you sense the scale of the challenge. Especially when he announces that “there simply is not enough storage space in the world to deal with the volume of data being generated at the ‘intelligent edge’ of the IoT revolution”.

Another significant signal of the changes taking place is the collaboration and co-operation between Red Hat and its past enemies in the .net world of proprietary software. Even the panellists in a keynote discussion featuring Microsoft and Dell EMC acknowledged the world has moved on and customer choice is the most important factor in a competitive world where speed equals revenue.

Red Hat have a vision for the connected world that wraps up Linux infrastructure and JBoss middleware as code, hybrid cloud deployments and self-healing apps living in containers on cloud native application platforms.

And suddenly the need for speed, and the realisation that change is indeed the only constant, brought context to my thinking about this new technology.

I’m not a techie, so I find it easy to put myself in the shoes of stressed out Board Directors with equally limited technical knowledge being told “disrupt or be disrupted!”

There are different flavours of change, but over the three days in Frankfurt I realised that two aspects of change should matter more to the multifunctional teams working on enterprise IT solutions and application development.

If I visualise a project team at a kick-off meeting, scoping out the aims and objectives of their new application, it seems like a business imperative that the first two things they should write in the non-functional specification column of the brief would be ‘change-ability’ and ‘change-agility’.

They will have to change the application and they will have to do that with speed and agility. So what technology and processes will give those people the best chance of doing that?

Red Hat has a habit of backing the right community projects and turning free code into enterprise hardened, fully supported, best-in-class software. It’s been smart enough to recognise the other stuff out there that should sit at the core of its products too.

When was the last time you did a Google search and it didn’t function? Kubernetes is just one example of that ability to embed the right technology to make a better mousetrap. And it’s been very astute in acquiring companies that will sit at the heart of future (PaaS) worlds. 3Scale API Management and Codenvy distributed cloud native application development based on Eclipse will run the new OpenShift.io experience.

There is a wholesale cultural and technological shift taking place in enterprise IT. Companies are waking up to the reality that microservices need to replace monoliths to stay in the game.

Digital transformation programs are asking Development and Operations teams to align their common goals with shared accountability. Fail fast, succeed quicker is the de facto DevOps mantra.

Going forward, my conversation with everyone involved, from developer to CTI, will start with the same question: how are you building in change-ability and change-agility to the work you’re doing?

Coming back from the Frankfurt Partner Conference with a timely injection of enlightenment, I’m looking forward to demonstrating how Tier 2 can shape this new narrative and discuss how people, process and Red Hat technology can make these ever-present ‘constants of change’ achievable.