New Red Hat CEO on JBoss, open source, the future

New Red Hat CEO on JBoss, open source, the future

At the fifth annual JBoss user conference, James Whitehurst shares some of his vision and explains what it's like to switch from an airline to the open-source industry.

Has the acquisition by Red Hat meant that more customers are now adopting JBoss because they are already Red Hat users?

Interestingly, in a lot of the channels especially...more systems integrators are much more interested in JBoss now because they can sell services and support for it. Linux is cheap, so not a lot of consulting services get dredged up for it. Systems integrators care about middleware. They want to sell middleware, and at the same time, it expands the use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

At Delta, you were the COO, not a technology fellow. How does it feel now to be the CEO at a major open-source company? Are you completely at ease in your new role and its technologies?

I was not that particularly involved in IT at Delta. We had open-source software in some Delta kiosks and in other places.

I have a degree in computer science, and in my nonworking life, I've played around with Slackware and other open-source applications. I've been an avid watcher of this for years. Clearly, I'm getting more up to speed about open source. This is an extremely healthy company. This isn't a place where we needed a turnaround strategy. Flawless execution is much more important than flawless strategy. I do think that I bring some skills that will move us forward. We have passionate people.

What is your relationship with former JBoss founder and CEO Marc Fleury, who has since left his former post? He was very passionate about his company. Is he still in touch about it?

Actually, we live about one mile apart. We talk regularly. There's a Starbucks that we meet at. He doesn't have an official role with the company.

In the end, what has it been like coming from Delta, where the airline industry has been having tough financial times, to Red Hat and the world of enterprise open-source software?

I was in a place of cutting, shrinking, protecting and defending in the airline business. It's nice to be the attacker.

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