Jim Whitehurst keynote kicks off Red Hat Summit 2013

Big data. Cloud computing. Commoditization of software. All are key aspects of modern technology—and they’re talked about a lot. But the real fundamental shift, according to Red Hat CEO and president, Jim Whitehurst, is how we innovate today. Whitehurst outlined his definition of innovation in his 2013 Red Hat Summit keynote on Tuesday evening. Previously, innovation involved an individual entrepreneur or in a small group. Today, open collaboration and innovation are what Whitehurst calls the new “social technology” that allows us to do things like move business functions to the cloud. Open innovation has three core characteristics:

  1. Allows users to solve their own problems
  2. Gets vendors to work together
  3. Focuses on continuous improvement

Why is this important today? Whitehurst says it’s because technology exists to support open innovation. In fact, he believes your technology choice is actually your innovation choice. And if you choose a proprietary, or closed, solution, you’re committing your business and resources to that solution for at least three years. Choosing an infrastructure solution isn’t like ordering from a Chinese menu, Whitehurst says. You’re actually choosing your businesses’ innovation model.

He made the case for open source technology and the cloud by stating that beyond Microsoft Azure, there isn’t a cloud computing model that’s not built on open source software.

In closing, Whitehurst reminded us all that we’re not attendees at Red Hat Summit—we’re participants.

“Innovation works when we collaborate, share ideas, and make connections,” Whitehurst said. “If it’s not here with these people, then when is it?”

When asked about his reaction to Whitehurst’s keynote, Red Hat Summit attendee Pankaj Gautam from Macys.com said, “I heard what I expected to hear from Red Hat regarding the power of open source technology.” He added that it’s difficult to get projects rolling with proprietary technology at Macys.com. He also thinks Red Hat solutions are the “direction we have to go” to innovate more quickly.