"I think I bring a whole series of skills around execution to ensure that we really take Red Hat to the next level," Whitehurst says. "And I think that that is something that the board was looking for."
Zachary says it is wait-and-see time, but that Whitehurst certainly "has the background to take Red Hat to the next level."
Nearly a year ago, the company released Version 5 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), but it was efforts to rationalize its 2006 acquisition of JBoss, join the virtualization craze, stave off attacks on its services and support crown jewel, and court Java developers where the company faced down new competitors such as IBM, Oracle/BEA and Sun. All of which lined up to take shots at the upstart.
But Whitehurst is building the gallows to execute Red Hat's revenge. "Certainly we will move beyond just the [operating system], and I think we are already doing that to some extent," he says. "If you look at our Linux automation kind of broader technology vision and what we are looking at in delivering around SOA and middleware, we have a pretty compelling value proposition that we think works quite nicely together. I think we need to do a better job of articulating that in the marketplace. I think that is an area where our execution can improve."
The goal is to get JBoss to grow at twice the rate of RHEL.
The message is that Red Hat middleware will support intranets, SOAs and online services. Virtualization will fuel application portability allowing ISVs to tie together operating system and application into one certified-to-run package that can be installed on servers or in the cloud.
Telling the virtualization story, Whitehurst says, is another area where Red Hat needs better execution.
Whitehurst also has sized up the competition. He respects Microsoft's success but isn't intimidated. He says he's not a religious zealot who won't develop relationships with proprietary software vendors, but the issue with Microsoft is lock-in and software bloat. "We think our much more nimble, open source, higher-value offerings are very competitive with them," he says.