The adoption of technology is gathering rapid pace in India and open source software has come to play a critical role. Enterprises today have moved beyond the stage of experimentation and gone into mode of firm adoption with regard to open source software. Red Hat, as one of the leading open source software products companies is on the path to deliver secure, reliable and agile systems to enterprises. Rajesh Rege, managing director—India/ Saarc, Red Hat, in an interview with PP Thimmaya said the vibrancy of India’s technology ecosystem has created a strong platform for deeper engagement with open source software. Edited excerpts.
Can you provide an overview of Red Hat as an open source software company?
Red Hat is one of the most visible and largest open source companies. We have been in software infrastructure space for many years but over the last few years, there has been a significant acceleration in the adoption of open source.
The number of people, communities and projects engaged with open source seem to be mushrooming. The world is becoming more connected where there is incredible amount of sharing, giving rise to communities, thereby creating good software.
We engage with a number of such communities. The advantage of open source software is that there is continuous innovation but on the other side of the spectrum there are businesses which cannot handle such rapid changes.
This is where Red Hat comes and plays a crucial role. We are plugged into the open source community and translate the goodness of this to the conventional customers. Conventional customers need something which is secure, predictable and enterprise grade. We work with communities on the software and make the product enterprise ready. There is a lot of value translation which happens in bringing community software to the enterprise and that is our business model.
How do you see the momentum towards open source software?
The most visible presence of Red Hat is in the operating system space but cloud is also another big theme. We have presence in the middleware space, virtualisation, infrastructure, etc. Agility is becoming important as newer versions of software are happening rapidly. The question is how fast and securely we can adapt to this change.
The other aspect is the element of fatigue in the user community in the area of proprietary software due to various reasons. The ability to move rapidly among proprietary companies is quite limited. These two things are creating momentum for open source software.
Is India shaping up to be an important open source destination?
India is the land of developers. We see significant adoption happening. There is a very large ecosystem of technology companies in India which is aiding this growth. So there is a natural progression in the adoption of open source. We are engaged with a large number of transformational projects like the Bombay Stock Exchange, EPFO, Aadhaar, etc. Customers in India have recognised that open source offerings from Red Hat are very viable, relevant and enterprise grade. Earlier, open source used to be more of a hobbyist nature but we created product and technologies which are scalable, competitive and have ease of deployment. Our team is engaged with a mature, vibrant ecosystem. India has a significant amount of software developers, who are not only potential users of the Red Hat portfolio but also serve as a good base for strengthening of community. Our approach is more collaborative in building these communities. We believe that we have almost reached saturation in terms of critical mass of developers for open source software.
Which sectors are early adopters of open source software in India?
There is adoption across sectors, but the pace is higher in sectors such as telecom and financial services as these are segments where there is significant disruption. They recognise that they need a software platform which is the best. We are also beginning to see a shift happening in more traditional industries.
From the government side, we believe that its adoption of open source is a step in the right direction. Open source provides the independence and Red Hat can be a partner or vendor as along as we can add value. The open source model
has people participation on a continuous basis as earlier there was a vendor lock-in problem.
How will Red Hat engage with the start-up community in India?
If you look at the start-ups in India or across the world, they pretty much use open source. A large majority of these start-ups have strong technology
background embedded in their ethos. The second thing which is supplementing this change is the presence of cloud. Though, start-ups begin with a very high open source element, the game changes when they become large. They realise that their job is not to be a technology company and that is where transition happens from community software to supported open source.
Do you see challenges in the Indian market?
I do not see these as challenges but as a lot of opportunities. The disruption brought about by companies creating platforms is leading to a lot of on-boarding of technology. Technology is getting embedded in regular living, so perhaps there would be a challenge in how to address these opportunities.