Red Hat Hires Microsoft Veteran to Challenge VMware Virtualization
Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) CEO Jim Whitehurst has long predicted open source virtualization will eventually leapfrog VMware's (NYSE:VMW) vSphere. So far that reality has not materialized. But a new Red Hat hire — Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) cloud veteran Radhesh Balakrishnan — will aim to change that.
At first glance, Balakrishnan's mission is very focused: He's now general manager of Red Hat's virtualization business. That means he needs to empower the open source company's sales, development and channel teams to drive Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) forward.
The good news is RHEV is built on KVM (kernel-based virtual machine), an open source hypervisor that some customers and partners are embracing with open arms. Plus, RHEV is tightly integrated with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which remains widely deployed in corporate data centers and on public clouds.
Balakrishnan's challenges won't end there. He must also promote Red Hat's OpenStack initiative as a foundation for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Here again, Red Hat faces big entrenched rivals across the IaaS market, plus a range of OpenStack start-ups that are working on their own distributions.
Balakrishnan's background certainly suggests that he's a cloud master. During his time at Microsoft, he helped to drive the Windows Azure cloud business forward. And Azure pushed far beyond SQL and Windows to support Linux and a range of developer tools.
At Red Hat, Balakrishnan will need to maintain a similar balancing act — promoting Red Hat's software while also integrating with a range of third-party developer tools and industry standards.
It's safe to say CEO Whitehurst still has high hopes for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. And the stakes just got a little higher now that Balakrishnan has arrived.