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Red Hat users looking to maintain hybrid cloud or multi-cloud deployments because they can’t go “all in” on the cloud will benefit from IBM’s $34 billion acquisition of the enterprise open source solutions provider, Nintex chief evangelist Ryan Duguid told CMSWire. 

Duguid and others offer more thoughts how the largest software acquisition to date will have on Red Hat users. 

Red Hat to ‘Remain as Switzerland’ with Cloud Partners

In a conference call on the mega deal with reporters this week, IBM and Red Hat officials expressed confidence that the merger would not result in massive changes for customers. Red Hat will operate independently within the IBM Hybrid Cloud team. Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of hybrid cloud for IBM, said Red Hat as a brand will “keep going as a brand for as long as I can foresee. There is no time limit on that.”

Red Hat will continue to maintain relationships with partners in the cloud like Amazon, Microsoft and Google — even though they’re natural competitors with IBM. Paul Cormier, executive vice president and president of products and technologies at Red Hat, said the IBM acquisition won’t affect Red Hat’s existing cloud partnerships. He said Red Hat will remain a separate entity within IBM and needs to “remain Switzerland in terms of how we interact with our partners.”

“We’re going to continue to prioritize what we do with partners and what we do for our partners within our product on a business case perspective, including IBM as a partner,” Cormier said. “We’re not going to do unnatural things. We’re going to do the right thing for the business and more importantly for the customer in terms of where we see our products.”

Related Article: 6 Things to Know About IBM's $34B Acquisition of Red Hat

‘Much Needed Advances’ in the Cloud

With the acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is looking to further cement its position in the enterprise application development ecosystem, and at the same time, make much needed advances as a cloud provider, according to Duguid. This can only be good news for Red Hat users.

"There’s an old saying that no one ever got fired for hiring IBM, and in the world of open source enterprise software, the same can be said of Red Hat,” Duguid added. This should be good news for existing Red Hat customers and developers, he said, because the acquisition alone isn’t enough to get IBM back in the game. “I expect to see them invest serious capital to catch up with Microsoft, Amazon and Google,” he said. 

Investment in Containerized Versions in Private Environments

IBM's Krishna was asked what Red Hat will mean for IBM Watson, its deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) engine for business applications and operations. As IBM takes Watson and other technologies into the private and public cloud, the company believes that working on containerized versions of the software is the best deployment method in a private environment. Krishna said Watson and Red Hat means bringing together the combination of the No. 1 container platform and the technology that is best served up to containers. 

Related Article: Trusting Watson: Will IBM's Artificial Intelligence Moves Repair Bad PR?

Impact on Linux: Sticking with CentOS-Red Hat

How will this deal impact Red Hat’s relationship with Linux, the open-source software operating system built around the Linux kernel? Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is one of several Linux distributions. 

According to a post on the Linux website, the IBM acquisition of Red Hat sparked a lot of fear and uncertainty within the Linux community about whether to drop ties with RHEL/CentOS/Fedora. CentOS is a Linux distribution that provides a computing platform compatible with RHEL. “You need to believe that the folks at Red Hat wouldn't throw that all away for a big payday and that they believe in what IBM is trying to do here,” according to the author of the post. ”There's just too much at stake. We here at Linux.org believe in Red Hat, CentOS and Fedora, and for those reasons we're sticking with CentOS as our OS.”

Cormier said Linux is the heart of its container platform. “In order to really do a container platform with Kubernetes (containerized applications deployment system), you need to be a commercial Linux vendor,” he added. “I always say that Red Hat has a 16-year head start on the rest of the competitors out there on building a Kubernetes platform because we've been a commercial Linux vendor for that long. We can now scale that much greater speed.”

Access to IBM’s Core Capabilities = Good Thing

IBM has said that Red Hat will retain all of its independence and unique culture, according to Jamie Snowdon, chief data officer for HFS Research. “That being said, as with any acquisition, this can often be harder to deliver,” Snowdon said. “The positive side is that Red Hat clients will be able to leverage some of IBM’s core capabilities in the future and vice versa. But there may be some challenges keeping talent on board dedicated to the independent open source community, which may cause some disruption.”

Related Article: What You Need to Know About Containerization

Bigger Impact May Be on IBM

As with any acquisition, Red Hat users will have to play the wait-and-see game. It will be business as usual for now, according to Al Gillen, general vice president and of software development and open source for IDC. “The deal won’t close until later in 2019,” he said. “After that, we can expect that the Red Hat portfolio will see little impact, and IBM has promised to run it as a separate entity, which is a major positive for Red Hat customers concerned about possible disruption.”

The longer-term, bigger changes are likely to take place on the IBM side, Gillen said. IBM, he noted, will have to embrace OpenShift, and potentially ramp down its current support for Cloud Foundry. “The upside for Red Hat clients is that we can expect IBM AI and ML services to move into the OpenShift environment, and surface in OpenShift.io for consumption,” Gillen said.

Seek Immediate Re-Assurance on Important Roadmap Items

Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research, blogged that Red Hat customers need to make sure their enterprise can remain successful on Red Hat. “As always with acquisitions, the customers of the acquired party need to seek immediate reassurance on important roadmap items, not only from Red Hat, but more importantly with IBM,” Mueller wrote. “When an acquirer knows where the porcelain is in the shelves, they can make a desired planned effort not to break it.”