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Brian Stevens leaves Red Hat to join Google as VP of cloud platforms

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September 10, 2014

Red Hat’s technology chief has left the Linux vendor to join Google following his abrupt and uncelebrated exit.

Brian Stevens suddenly left the OpenStack team after twelve years as executive vice president.

As of September, Stevens has become Google’s vice president of cloud platforms, just a few days after leaving Red Hat.

Stevens’ exit from Red Hat was announced on August 27th in a very brief and somewhat dull statement given his tenure at Red Hat and the respect he conveyed there.

“We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat’s business. We wish him well in his future endeavors,” said president and chief executive Jim Whitehurst in a statement.

For now, head of Red Hat products Paul Cormier is the temporary Chief Technical Officer.

The brief, 25-word goodbye and sudden nature of Stevens’ exit suggests that Red Hat’s former CTO and some of his bosses didn't part on very good terms.

As far as corporate history goes, Stevens joined Red Hat in late 2001 and worked in Mission Critical Linux as CTO.

Red Hat was founded in 1993 and Stevens helped take the company beyond being merely a Linux desktop distribution into something a lot more serious-- the enterprise segment.

He helped it survive the great dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century which claimed lesser start-ups, pushing Red Hat to become a billion dollar revenue public company.

The billion dollar number is a magic totem for any software company to touch on its growth plan.

Additionally, he oversaw engineering of the JBoss app server middleware acquired by Red Hat in 2006, killing the company’s own efforts on the JOnAS app server it had previously licensed.

JBoss helped drain BEA Systems' business, sending it into the arms of Oracle. Stevens also oversaw Red Hat’s engineering department on the OpenStack cloud, virtualization, management, security, big data and the company’s first love, Linux, turning Red Hat into a buttoned-down enterprise server distribution.

Red Hat has beat the drum for the open cloud, joining OpenStack and it's been hiring engineers. Its R&D costs grew 22 percent in its most recent quarter.

Red Hat has also made acquisitions, including Inktank for Ceph storage on OpenStack for $175 million in cash this year.

But OpenStack remains a difficult proposition for everybody to get right and Red Hat’s cloud business has struggled to find its niche.

Growth is coming from JBoss with its OpenStack and OpenShift cloud offerings, but the Linux distro remains the real reason for buying Red Hat-– 86 percent of subscription revenues from the last quarter came from the company's infrastructure offerings with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Source: Red Hat.

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