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Telecom Review was invited to a closed-door media roundtable held during Red Hat’s Partner Day event at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, on May 17, 2023.

Adrian Pickering, general manager, Red Hat MENA welcomed partner representatives, including Raja Agrawal, head of Microsoft Azure MEA; Ronald Powell, VP of Hybrid Cloud - CTO Office, Injazat; and Tarek El Araby, digital solutions director, GBM, as well as invited members of the press.

Red Hat Strategy Update and Ecosystem Relevance

In his presentation, Pickering tackled the new normal scenario and highlighted how Red Hat supports innovation anywhere with broad choice and flexibility.

Beginning his talk with the impact of COVID-19 in elevating the importance of technology, Pickering stated that “innovation is very high” and that he’s never been more excited about “how open source-based solutions are being perceived and received in the various countries.”

Red Hat continues to drive innovation around community-based open source development. Pickering quoted company CEO Matt Hicks on considering the open hybrid cloud as the North Star of Red Hat: “That's our fundamental strategic direction, and we're getting good growth rates on a global basis.”

The majority of Red Hat MENA’s time today is spent working with developers because “they want to have the tools, capabilities and capacity to develop either applications based on the demands of the business or they want to modernize existing applications so that they can migrate off legacy infrastructure.”

In a hybrid cloud evolution, there’s a significant runway remaining, as less than 25% of workloads are moved to the cloud. Today, there is a shift from public cloud to hybrid and multi-cloud, and in the future, hybrid cloud will extend to enterprise edge infrastructure.

“We do our best to actually support this transition in their business,” explained Pickering, and by embracing partners and delivering differentiated cloud services from hyperscalers, Red Hat’s platform relevance will be strengthened.

Red Hat Priority: Customer First, Partner Always

Pickering also mentioned some of the company’s key priorities moving forward: evolve to consumptive services; expand to value-add partner relationships; promote Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on all footprints; add managed platform services and build managed applications; and deliver consistent hybrid cloud experience.

Pickering cited the Microsoft Azure marketplace as an example of a consumption-based model. “Their customers can go and select the Red Hat technologies [at] their marketplace. We have a mechanism whereby corporate discounts can be applied to certain services.”

Additionally, Pickering shared the formula of sales incentive + partner = success and pointed out that partner business models and activities are changing. They are witnessing an increase in various parameters such as cloud/XaaS sales, revenue and profitability from a combination of services, the number of customers and the use of marketplaces.

“From a revenue perspective, we are very dependent on working with our partner community in order to deliver our solutions to the end customers. It's fundamentally part of our go-to-market strategy,” said the Red Hat MENA GM.

Centered on co-creation, Red Hat is focused on creating and realizing ecosystem capability and establishing a world-class ecosystem team globally with consistency and efficiency. This is done through a modern, modular partner program that leverages a cloud partner ecosystem, ramping up capability in commercial, and co-creating and selling joint offerings.

Commenting on the maturity of the cloud, Injazat’s Powell noted, “Everyone is starting to stabilize and understand where they need to leverage cloud and what type of cloud. What you're really seeing now is an average of between three to four different clouds per customer. [Thus], it's gonna become more difficult and more complex to manage this hybrid, multi-cloud world, especially now that we are embarking heavily, aggressively on today's edge. The edge is the next wave that's going to come… It's going to be quite an interesting phenomenon.”

In the context of customer digital transformation, GBM’s El Araby said: “This is what Red Hat and companies like GBM are providing: solutions to make this abstraction layer so customers today focus on their business and innovation. They don't focus on becoming an IT company. You don't want to hire techies to run IT operations. This is why you come live on technology providers like Red Hat, where you can transport and take the skills and knowledge across and provide customers with stable technology where they can actually be more diverse.”

Security by Design

Pickering was asked about Red Hat’s perspective on security taking precedence over innovation in the Middle East, as per its 2023 Global Tech Outlook report. He answered: “One of the fundamental processes that we have is we security validate any component of software that we provide to customers. We have a test and development environment with a whole range of security testing scripts to ensure there’s no backdoors or loopholes.”

“When we work with developers who develop their own applications, part of the training and development program that goes alongside the product is making sure to embed that security thinking in every stage of the development process of the new app.”

Agrawal finished with his perspective: “Security is earned in drops and lost in buckets, and we don't want that to happen. Hence, we often refuse business from customers who do not want to implement the needed security for their environment. We ensure that there is at least a minimum security guardrail that has been put in place.”

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