An Open Shift in my Career

It has been a little over a month since I joined Red Hat as Director of OpenShift Strategy and I thought it is time for to officially say "hello" to the community and offer my thoughts on why I made this shift in my career. The last month has been pretty exciting, both in terms of getting to meet the OpenShift team, and also in terms of seeing the market through a vendor lens.

Who Am I?

Before I start, I want to introduce myself to those who don't know me. I came to Red Hat from the analyst world. My focus areas of research were cloud infrastructure and platforms. I concluded that PaaS is the future of cloud services more than three years back and have been advocating it to both developers and enterprises since then. The industry, especially pundits, were getting excited about infrastructure services but I was convinced that PaaS was where the action is going to be in the future. As the abstraction goes higher up, platform services is going to be the operating system for the modern IT. For the past two years, I ran a vendor neutral PaaS conference, called Deploycon, highlighting this fact. I am grateful for the community who stood behind me in this push including Red Hat's OpenShift.

Why OpenShift?

I have long been an advocate of open source. As we moved into cloud, some folks started pushing hard on open protocols and formats at the expense of emphasizing open source (I call them the Tim O' Reilly school of thought based on the famous article Tim wrote a few years back). I have long advocated that both open source and open architectures are equally important. While open protocols and formats help end customers from being locked into a particular service provider, open source helps lower the barrier opening up the market to many service providers. In the absence of such a market pressure, we will end up with a handful of service providers. We all know what happened when such an oligarchy resulted in traditional telcos and wireless carriers in US. A competitive market is key for the free market system to succeed and open source can enable that. Even while I was an analyst, a position that requires complete neutrality, I was advocating open source as a choice for customers along with proprietary options because of the role played by OSS in keeping the market honest.

In the initial days of PaaS, the market was dominated by only proprietary players. Then OpenShift and CloudFoundry made their entry into the market, we saw some disruptions and increased enterprise adoption. What attracted me towards OpenShift was their embrace of open extensible architecture along with open source, open protocols, etc. This open extensible architecture was unique in the enterprise PaaS segment and allowed end users to use any language, any framework, any service, any application server, etc. The cartridge based approach to extensibility made OpenShift the ultimate open PaaS solution in the market. When Red Hat's solid support gets wrapped around such an open platform, it is a no brainer for me on what's in store for OpenShift in the enterprise market.

What I Plan To Do

I will use the knowledge I gained by observing the industry at 30K feet to help OpenShift team plan their roadmap going forward. I will also help the team on their community and ecosystem efforts. More importantly, I will push OpenShift in various fora and help the platform emerge as a strong player in the market. If you are a developer using OpenShift or even a competing offering, I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter (@krishnan).


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