Why the future is open source for innovation in India

Red Hat’s Senior VP and General Manager for Asia Pacific, Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen explains why fostering India’s open source mindset will be a win-win for all.

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In 2015, the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology released its policy on ‘Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India’. The idea was to adopt open source technologies in the public sector and stay clear of the proprietary clutches of traditional technology players.

According to Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen, senior VP and general manager for Asia Pacific at Red Hat, India is the most open source minded country. He is passionate about keeping meritocracy and freedom intact amongst the open source community and credits both IBM and Red Hat for maintaining the culture of innovation post the acquisition.

dirk peter van leeuwen red hat Red Hat

The telco-banking convergence can help in reaching the last mile customer. We see transformation happening in large banks, and also in the up and coming players. Other verticals we are focusing on include healthcare and automotive.
Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen, Red Hat

IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat is being closely watched by all – competitors, customers, and developers. “The developer community has seen that we are still running as Red Hat, there is no influence of IBM in our decision making, in our products and road maps. And we continue doing what we said we would. This is also at the request of IBM, of course, because they value what we’re doing, it’s so unique that it has to be kept separate from IBM,” he says.

IBM has announced it's bringing its software to Red Hat OpenShift with “Cloud Paks”, and Red Hat is eyeing scale expansion in markets like India, where IBM already has a huge presence.

The open source giant has a stronghold in three key sectors in the country – government, banking, and telecommunication. At the India Mobile Congress 2019, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was very explicit about why open source is a must for the Indian government to continue to develop the way they are doing, says Dirk.

Remarkably, major public entities in the country – GSTN, UIDAI, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), National Stock Exchange (NSE), Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Indian Railways are running on Red Hat technologies.

Also, Red Hat recently announced its collaboration with Vodafone Idea Limited, to transform its datacentre operations in the country. The Indian telco will leverage Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform, Ceph Storage, Ansible Automation Platform and RHEL to upgrade over 100 distributed network datacenters to open standards, ultimately functioning as a “Universal cloud”.

The other massive opportunity for open source lies with the banking vertical, where Dirk explains, “The telco-banking convergence can help in reaching the last mile customer. We see transformation happening in large banks, and also in the up and coming players. Other verticals we are focusing on include healthcare and automotive.”  

The beauty is that there are many legacy projects in the country – so players are now looking at a refresh cycle. For instance, when BSE wanted to look at the next phase, they turned to open source. Another customer has adopted containerization and migrated their core banking platform to open source, he says.

This open hybrid opportunity is also one of the key reasons why IBM acquired Red Hat. “With Linux, we created the platform that runs across hardware, the same story is true right now with what we do with OpenShift. It’s cloud-ready, it runs equally well with any of the cloud providers’ infrastructure.” Another lure of the open hybrid is that organizations don’t have to worry about vendor lock-ins, which according to Dirk is a big inhibitor to the mass-market adoption of cloud. “And since that inhibitor is being taken care of by Red Hat, IBM was very keen to acquire us.”

However, the Big Blue needs to be careful with its approach with Red Hat OpenShift. “The value we are offering is that we have a very good reputation in open source community that is allowing us to represent our partners in the upstream community,” says Dirk. Developers favor simplicity and flexibility and have always been wary of the full-stack mindset and services approach.

In the fast-moving tech space, there are many people with great ideas often being similar to each other’s, explains Dirk. It’s about who screams the loudest – their idea gets implemented, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best idea. "In the open source community, we will not bring anything to market, until we have factual proof that this is the tech that lasts. And then it will make it to the upstream world. It’s not a decision that we make in isolation, open source developers collaborate across the world. Making sure innovation happens in the upstream and the consensus is the community is what we are driving." 

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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