“They’re all so nice and polite and we’re like, ‘that’s ridiculous'”
“We [still] don’t have EU regulatory approval,” said Red Hat CEO James M. Whitehurst at the company’s Summit conference in Boston, as the news came in that the US Department of Justice had signed off on the $34 billion deal “without remedies or conditions”, and trimmed an obligatory “waiting period” under antitrust law.
“But there’s a set of planning we can do.”
As the company awaits European approval (earlier comments by a Red Hat executive, later disavowed, had suggested any hold-up was likely to be in the United States), the two are engaging in various meetings, he said; and it’s sometimes a culture clash.
“I will say broadly I think IBM and Red Hat share the same vision of hybrid multicloud. And I’m really excited that with their breadth and scale, and our infrastructure stack and what we’re doing in open source communities, that we can provide tremendous value to our enterprise customers as they move to hybrid and multicloud.”
IBM and Red Hat: “Creative Abrasion” is Important
Merging two companies of IBM and Red Hat’s scale is never going to be an entirely smooth task and Whitehurst hinted at some intriguing differences in mannerism and approach between the two organisations.
IBM, he said, approaches meetings politely, with a lot of smiling. Red Hat’s culture is one of “constructive conflict”.
As he put it: “We’ve had this bluntly a little bit with IBM where we’ll have these meetings and they’re all so nice and polite, and we’ll be like ‘that sucks’ or ‘that’s ridiculous’, and we’re just used to our operating that way, we don’t mean it in a bad way; we assume positive intent.”
He went on to stress that his team feels being blunt is part of the culture at Red Hat, and that it is an integral process to the creation of new ideas at the company: “We really do try to encourage this kind of creative abrasion, which to a lot of people feel really really harsh. But we really think that’s how the best ideas emerge.”
The comments came as Red Hat launched its RHEL 8 Operating System at the event in Boston, with a host of new features including automated regulatory compliance checks and remediation of vulnerabilities, as well as the new Red Hat Universal Base Image (UBI); designed to be a foundation for cloud-native and web applications use cases.