The Red Hat Forum 2017 Interview Part 3 – Disruptive Technology, Innovations, and Consistency of the Red Hat Experience
As recent as last month, the Red Hat name has just solidified its foothold in Asia by launching their very fist Innovation Labs in Singapore. The third chapter of the open source champion proven Innovation Labs initiative is built and launched in the bid of serving the rapidly growing Asian market. The choice of launching the Innovation Labs in Singapore is down to the fact that Singapore is technically the economic hub of the South East Asian region. Singapore also serves as their South East Asian headquarters making it the ideal place to have a full-fledged Innovation Lab for the Asia region. Red Hat’s Innovation Labs, according to Damien Wong, Vice President and General Manager of Red Hat ASEAN is not just limited to one location though. The Linux for enterprises provider can, in theory easily set up its Innovation Labs in any given space. Known as a pop up lab, Red Hat’s clients do not have to go all the way to Singapore to get a glimpse of how Red Hat works.
We recently had an exclusive chance to speak to Damien Wong and Massimo Ferrari, Red Hat’s Management Strategy Director at their Forum 2017 in Malaysia on the major milestone that is the Innovation Lab in Singapore and also the latest addition in their enterprise solutions family; Ansible Automation. In this last part of the three-part series of the interview we spoke about new and disruptive technologies that stems from various innovations. We also spoke about the Red Hat experience for different clients on top of different systems; how Red Hat keeps their experience consistent among their clients.
Innovation is a big word, it means plenty of things. To Re Hat, it means moving forward. Red Hat’s Damien Wong gave examples of something we could all relate to; the banks. Being some of the world’s longest standing organisations the bank holds a very special role in the society and community. Their large databases of customer and client information are good examples of an aging legacy system that is becoming obsolete. Knowing this plenty of banks are trying to move away from their legacy systems and embrace the more current, updated, modular system. It proved to be harder than anyone thinks though. There are however success stories like DBS of Singapore and BTPN of Indonesia. One is a large international banking conglomerate serving all sorts of clients all over the world. The other is a smaller national bank that are built to cater to pensioners.
In the case of DBS, they have made their banking easier by creating mobile apps and optimising their online channels to create a hassle free banking experience. In some sense DBS is creating a completely untethered banking experience, one where you can have even without stepping into an actual physical bank. BTPN is an even more impressive example of how disruptive technologies are being used. Serving a small fraction of a specific population in Indonesia their resources are understandably tighter. But a smaller form factor has allowed them to be somewhat more agile in terms of digital transformation. Very much like what DBS has done with their banking facility, BTPN has gone the digital way forward. It is the first ever completely digital bank in Indonesia.
Of course, there are costs involved in digital transformations. Both time and money are required in this case; the general consensus here is that moving from legacy systems to newer, more adaptive systems costs a lot of money and consumers plenty of time. When asked about this Damien’s respond was a question of the costs that are involved not moving forward. It is clear that we are entering a digital first age, the cost of not innovating an organisations current services is too great to ignore in some sense. If you do not move forward with a digital presence or footprint in the current world you are left behind and set up to fail. The digital experience is an important part of our daily lives whether we like it or not and innovation will play an even more important role in the near future. A great example used here is Kodak, an imaging company that refuses to embrace the digital era of imaging. They have slowly dissolved since their failure to adapt and move forward.
Every enterprise has different approaches to digital transformations though. Each company, like individuals are unique and would require different approaches to innovation. Of course the size of a company, the amount of resources it can allocate, and its culture takes center stage in this case. They all play into the agility factor, how much can be changed at a given amount of time.
Once you solve the issue of innovation, you have the problem of consistency of the Red Hat experience. Red Hat’s open source approach could be a problem when it comes to experience. A good example of how open sources systems could be a little messy is something we stuck into our pockets on a daily basis, our phones. More specifically the Android operating system that we all know and love. If you are somewhat updated with the tech and gadgets realm you might have heard of the term ‘fragmentation’. That is an inherent issue with every Android device out there in the market. Android runs on so many different platforms that patches and updates are inconsistent on their devices. But even the hardware level could muddle or enhance the Android experience itself. On top of that every manufacturer has their own idea of an operating system, which means Android could look very different from one device to another. That leads to an extreme inconsistency in experience.
Red Hat though approached things differently. About 12 years ago Red Hat has realised that this could be a problem; if they tailor each solution for each client maintaining the system is too much work. An even bigger problem is that each client experiences Red Hat differently making training and normalizing difficult. In terms of hardware Red Hat has been constantly certifying their system against a large amount of server systems available in the market, including legacy hardware. What this does is allow Red Hat to understand how each hardware behaves against Red Hat’s open source interfaces and systems. They then release and develop patches are drivers to match and compensate the hardware capabilities to ensure consistent experiences across the board. Massimo Ferrrari here says that the advantage that Red Hat has in the enterprise solutions industry is that they are a software provider which means understanding hardware behaviour and matching capabilities is just a matter of tweaking the software a little bit.
To make matters even more streamlined, Red Hat provides its clients with a single sort of operating system to work with. What this does is allow each client to look at a single interface; a more consistent experience even in a different industry. Of course this does not eliminate the need to update and upgrade the hardware side. Computing power continues to increase and each update of any operating system or software would require plenty more of the hardware. That is also why organisations look to consistently upgrade their systems in order to match the current computing speeds. Even the costs are dwindling down very quickly these days; especially when there are companies looking to create open sourced hardware designs.
In the end though the problem is not the hardware that are being used by each organisation. It is more software based more than anything. Red Hat wants its customers to be able to run their own programs on their own preferred platform. For example a client would be running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform but still wants to employ Red Hat’s suite of services. In this case, Red Hat is already compatible with AWS which means that there is not any issue. Red Hat also has collaborated with Microsoft Azure to cast a wider net for its client’s convenience. There are other systems however and compatibility could be the hurdle for it.
Source: Red Hat
Also published on Medium.