Research Hub > Open-Source Innovation: the Red Hat Story

December 15, 2020

3 min

Open-Source Innovation: the Red Hat Story

Understanding the history of Red Hat helps frame what the company is doing today.


Back when Red Hat started selling Linux, open-source software was considered a radical notion in the technology world. Over the next decade, open source became more and more prevalent and essential to the DevOps industry, which itself has become a way to accelerate digital business innovation.

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This blog post will cover some of the major milestones in Red Hat’s development and its relationship to DevOps.

Red Hat and Open Source

Red Hat placed all its bets on the open-source industry, but the company did not just sit back and watch it develop. Red Hat became one of the leaders by being one of the biggest contributors to its growth. This was a smart move on Red Hat’s part because as an organization contributes to a product/project, it also influences its direction. This has permitted the company to remain at the forefront of the industry.

Over the years, Red Hat took some risks that really paid off. It became one of the first companies to move from selling software on CDs to selling software subscriptions. Red Hat also realized early on that Linux and open source would become the basis for what the cloud would be built on. Linux also became a favorite for developers, as it offers scalability and flexibility, allowing them to conform the environment to their needs rather than be dictated by the OS. What has made Red Hat so successful over the past 20 years is its continued evolution to the changing market and adapting to those changes.

To help with those changes, Red Hat realized early on that it needed to go out to the partner ecosystem and help drive these conversations with businesses. The company understood that other partners had valuable relationships with customers that would enhance its own business. This is where its multi-partner model came into play. Red Hat partners with many other companies that also provide to the open-source model, such as HPE and Cisco.

Application Modernization

Red Hat has strengthened its position in the open-source and DevOps industry over the years by making its products more valuable to customers. One of its biggest tractions in the cloud industry was the release of OpenShift Enterprise and OpenStack back in 2012 and 2013. This was the start of the growth of Docker containers, which in turn made Kubernetes a household name and the main orchestrator of containers.

Linux containers can help different areas of a business by divvying up responsibilities, as well as reducing conflict among different teams by separating those different areas. Containers have also provided less lag in operations, as well as simplifying the development and deployment of applications.

With Linux, Red Hat created a strong foundation for OpenShift, which was designed to provide efficiency when standardizing application packaging to enable portability across hybrid environments. Combining this with Kubernetes enabled a powerful container orchestration and management platform to become one of the fastest growing open-source projects. Because of Red Hat’s impact on container orchestration and management space, VMware acquired Pivotal with the intention of competing with OpenShift and expanding its portfolio. Learn more about OpenShift here.

Automation and Orchestration

What if businesses could save time and be more productive while eliminating repetitive tasks and making fewer mistakes and errors? Red Hat acquired Ansible to help expand its portfolio and position itself as a reliable partner to a business’s DevOps and automation strategy.

Ansible is an open-source automation tool used for cloud provisioning, configuration management, speeding up application deployment, and other IT needs and is considered one of the leading DevOps automation tools. Businesses leverage Ansible and its architecture for many phases of their applications lifecycles no matter where they are at in development.

For example, while in the testing and integration phase, Ansible provides a way for each developer to configure tasks through their modules along with the CI/CD pipeline. Furthermore, this allows companies to use one simple agentless, human-readable coding tool across their whole IT environment without needing any special coding skills. Ansible helps create one central area for everything to be managed and reduces the complexities of today’s environments.

Automation can become an integral piece of a business’s containers strategy as well. While containers help tame the complexity of hybrid cloud environments, automation becomes a core need as they scale up the use of containers and microservices. Ansible gives administrators the ability to deploy scalable workloads effectively without needing to increase their workforce and take up internal resources.

By integrating Ansible with Kubernetes, it can be used to encode human operational knowledge when automating the Kubernetes environments, making it easier to deploy and manage the apps in a native way. With its ease of use and ability to create multiple playbooks, Ansible has defined itself as a leading automation tool.

Red Hat and IBM

In fall 2019, IBM made waves throughout the industry by acquiring Red Hat. The two companies have developed a set of solutions that allow businesses to develop and deploy applications on IBM cloud platforms along with any other platform of their choice.

The six IBM Cloud Pak solutions will cover key workloads as you move to the cloud, with all of them being built on Red Hat’s OpenShift container platform. Using OpenShift on IBM cloud container platforms gives developers and operators the ability to deploy scalable workloads globally while continuing to have reliable end-to-end security for their applications.

Previously, IBM focused on private cloud strategy, but with the acquisition of Red Hat, which gave it the Linux platform, containers and Kubernetes, the company now has the foundation to build a hybrid cloud strategy, redefining itself as a leader impacting the DevOps industry.

As the move to cloud becomes more prevalent, businesses will move faster to adopt these tools and strategies. While Red Hat has made great strides throughout the years developing tools to help businesses along their DevOps journey, this acquisition has now reinforced its position in the industry as a leader.

Kate Fink

CDW Expert
Kate Fink is a business development specialist for CDW•G’s Integrated Technology Solution practice. She has been with CDW for more than nine years, working on various brands such as Symantec and Oracle. For the past couple of years, Kate has been covering Red Hat at CDW•G, under the DevOps portfolio.