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Red Hat Canada leader talks strategic alliance progress and how Canada factors into $5 billion plan

Channel Strategy

Red Hat is on a new trajectory. The company that made a name for itself selling open-source software caught the alliance bug late 2014, and has since developed a full-blown case of strategic partnerships.

In the past year or so, the company forged deals with Cisco, Microsoft, Tata Consulting Services, Wipro, Dell SAP, Lenovo, Samsung, and most recently QCT.

At its recent North American Partner Conference, CDN sat down with Red Hat Canada country leader Luc Villeneuve to discuss its direction and the company’s progress in reaching its $5 billion goal.

 

CDN: How is your alliance strategy progressing and what can we expect for the rest of the year?

Luc Villeneuve: The year is just starting. [During our last meeting] we had just signed these agreements. They were fresh. We had just started to learn and I see a lot of the pieces of the puzzle coming together like funding for doing joint events. For example, we have a four-city tour coming up with Microsoft. So we have about a half-dozen or so events like this this year. Same thing with Lenovo. We’re going to see more and more of that coming. I think the strategic nature of companies like Microsoft will play on how our portfolios will complement them. They are just starting to realize how much of a good fit we are. We’re just starting.

With HP, we are looking at where they have large outsourcing contracts, where can we play to help them refresh their legacy technology. There’s a lot of legacy technology in Canada; I think Canada is a little bit behind in refreshing the platforms that exist out there like Solaris and potentially IBM and HP and so forth, so I think HP has a lot of desire to bring this together and work with Red Hat.

We’re going to have the same discussion with Cisco, so the whole ecosystem feels like it’s coming together. The alliances that execute the best will have the most success with Red Hat. For example, a customer can buy Dell, IBM, HP, Cisco, Lenovo. One of those will execute better with us. The ones that are going to see the light, that one will win more shares.

 

CDN: What’s the goal for these events that you will be hosting with your strategic partners?

LV: About 3/4 of our events in the afternoon we’ll have technical workshops, demos and POC’s that show that we can not only work together, but also show the technology. So we create the interest. There’s a lot of partners that aren’t aware of a whole other section of our portfolio. There’s a lot of education we still need to do for our customer and partner base about what we actually do. When they go through a migration or a new way of doing something with the cloud or new agile technology, they need to think of us. It might not be today, but it should be in six months or a year down the road.

 

CDN: You have added a lot of new partners and increased the amount of elite partners that you have. The company has also outlined its $5 billion five-year plan. How do Canadian partners factor into this goal?

LV: This event set the stage for the type of partner we’re going to see and do business with the rest of the year. So what I was impressed with was all the partners were talking about seeing the benefits of getting specialized into middleware or cloud or areas where they never thought of before. That’s a departure from before.

In terms of upgrading legacy hardware, in Canada, I would say that 20 per cent of the market share is behind the US, so we’re going to have to catch up there, and I think it’s going to accelerate. We saw telecom and banks move towards Linux, making our platform the standard. The big departure on top of this we saw was the government. We saw the government selecting Linux as their new standard moving forward.

So I don’t see any pockets where we’re not doing well, I see pockets where we’re just started, but as a whole, it’s definitely in our favour.