Red Hat Summit typically consists of many deeply technical announcements, and the company did not disappoint in that respect, but they also made several important channel announcements and dropped a couple big hints about what is coming for partners next.
Last week, open source and enterprise-focused IBM subsidiary Red Hat held their Red Hat Summit event in Boston. This event is typically focused on improving the Red Hat developer experience, and that was also the case this year, with the first two days of their three-day event focused on the upgrades to their technology stack. The third day, however, was focused on Red Hat’s partners, and there was also some significant news for them.
“The technology sessions ran Tuesday and Wednesday, and we had a Partner Success Day on Thursday after the news, with the focus being how do we use those news announcements to grow our business,” said Stefanie Chiras, SVP, Partner Ecosystem Success at Red Hat.
Ansible Lightspeed, previously Project Wisdom, was announced because for the first time, Red Hat Summit was held jointly with Ansible Fest, as Ansible is also owned by IBM. For the first time, the event also ran the Ansible Fest, bringing together open-source IT automation for developers, users, and contributors. Ansible Lightspeed is now integrated with IBM’s Watson code assistant platform to provide highly automated domain-specific AI which will fit in with current interest around Generative AI. October 2023 is the formal launch deadline, although a public preview for training is available now.
Another Ansible announcement was Event-Driven Ansible, which uses Ansible automation and automated decision-making to let enterprises connect with Ansible through third party tools, to improve service delivery and general efficiency.
The pure Red Hat announcements begin with Red Hat Service Interconnect, a 7-layer hybrid cloud application networking tool that simplifies connecting applications and services on different platforms and locations through Kubernetes
Red Hat also announced the Red Hat Developer Hub, an open, unified, enterprise-grade portal that leverages Red Hat plugins for the Backstage developer portal to simplify development operations on container and Kubernetes platforms, including OpenShift.
The Red Hat Trusted Software Supply Chain is a new cloud service, which adds security safeguards to every element of CI/CD workflows based on Red Hat best practices. A preview will be available shortly. Another new service is Red Hat Advanced Cluster Security Cloud Service, which secures Kubernetes deployments in hybrid environments.
Updates were announced for the Red Hat OpenShift AI platform. It will help to build AI solutions by expanding Red Hat OpenShift Data Science to scale AI innovation and power the end-to-end lifecycle management for IBM Watson and Ansible Lightspeed.
New announcements were also made for Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL], including using Red Hat Insights to let teams to monitor cloud health from a browser through redhat.com, for a single management experience. RHEL for third-party Linux migration was also rolled out to maintain consistency when converting from CentOS Linux 7 for updated security.
Chiras sought that automation and partnerships were the central focus behind these announcements.
“Our main stage highlighted key partners Microsoft and AWS as well as customers,” she said. “That’s what we want at Summit, to spread the message that the ecosystem is infused throughout to provide the highlights of deep engineering. The way that the ecosystem is done today is creating capability with partners.”
Chiras also emphasized that this is what Red Hat has been doing itself since she came to Red Hat last January, initially to lead RHEL and then moving to the channel role.
“When we pulled together the organization, we wanted to foster co-creation and collaboration,” she stated. “Pretty much everything is collective at this market, so on Partner Day, we announced a solutions catalogue which will be searchable by customers and by other partners.”
Chiras noted that even with OEM relationships, they are now seeing more build.
“We are focused on expanding choice even down to the architecture, with ARM and GPUs from our NVIDIA partnership,” she said. “It is all very comprehensive. The regional SIs are becoming very important, and the hyperscalers too, who have a key space in the multi-partner solution. We have also expanded our focus on distribution. We run five motions – cloud, hardware, software, services, and distribution and resell – and on Partner Success Day we wanted to highlight those.”
Partner training, which was enhanced last year, has been further stepped up this year.
“Last year, we made changes to our training with free training,” Chiras said. “Then we centralized all of our enablement at the end of the year, so now all our training becomes available to partners through the portal.”
Partner Success Managers, which Red Hat reworked last July, continue to be enhanced.
“We did a full enablement across every Partner Account Manager, with the expectation that their skill set has to balance between the technical side, the sales operational side, and the business side,” Chiras said. “We are looking for opportunities where they can co-create, by knowing both our and our partners’ business strategy to see places of overlap. Now we are focused on driving business closure and growth for both Red Hat and the partner.”
So what’s next?
“We are going through two things now,” Chiras indicated. “We are working on a revamp of our partner program, although we have nothing to announce at this point. Last year we also rolled out rules of engagement to our entire sales team, and we are working on rules of enablement indicating how we expect them to engage with partners.”