Red Hat Hits Road in Recruitment Drive

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Red Hat’s mission to woo hearts, minds, and market share brought it to MIT Monday, where the chief executive pitched the Linux distributor’s gospel while recruiting new talent to the open source movement.

The Linux software company currently has 100 programmers in its Westford, Mass., office, where most of the work on its core Red Hat enterprise product takes place. It hopes to double that number by year’s end. The visit was a chance for the executives of the number one Linux distributor to try to add more brain power to the group.

“I’ve always been excited about this talent pool,” Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s executive vice president of engineering, told an audience of nearly 200 people.

Cormier praised the region’s abundance of programmer vets, in addition to the fresh crop of talent coming through the ranks as computer science students.

The event, held at a hotel on the edge of MIT’s campus, is also only a stone’s throw from a sizeable Novell office. Red Hat has been feeling the competitive heat from Novell since it bought German enterprise Linux specialist SUSE for $210 million in November.

“We have a new competitor; we think that’s good,” Red Hat CEO Matt Szulik said. “We’ve been about choice since the company has been founded. We want to have the opportunity to compete against the best in the world.”

Coming off a strong quarter in which the company notched customer wins and padded its earnings, Szulik said Red Hat would continue its strategy of working with government, education and private industry customers and partners.

In its most recent quarter, Red Hat reported revenue of $37 million, up 11 percent from the previous quarter and 43 percent from the same period a year ago. It earned $5 million during the period, up from $4.1 million in the previous quarter. The company also notched 87,000 new subscriptions for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

As for Microsoft, Szulik said he doesn’t expect to displace the Redmond, Wash., giant from the corporate desktop any time soon.

“The Linux client market is critically important to our future,” he said. “But let’s separate Hollywood from reality.”

Love or hate Microsoft, corporate IT managers have already paid for
Microsoft licenses and, despite security glitches, are unlikely to run out and change, Szulik said.

Red Hat sees opportunity in security, performance and infrastructure
management areas, he said. It will continue to look at acquisitions, like its purchase of Sistina in December.

Sistina will help provide Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers with path to virtualization and vendor-independent storage solutions.

As for small and medium business customers, Red Hat will pursue them through larger partners such as HP rather than establish a “more traditional” channel of smaller resellers and integrators, Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day said.

The Cambridge stop was the sixth of seven events in cities to gain new customers and employees.

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