Will rolling into IBM be the end of Red Hat?

IBM's acquisition of Red Hat is a big deal – a $34 billion big deal – and many Linux professionals are wondering how it's going to change Red Hat's role in the Linux world. Here are some thoughts.

Will IBM’s acquisition be the end of Red Hat?
Stephen Lawson/IDG

IBM closed its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat on July 9, and statements from the leadership of both companies sound promising. But some Linux users have expressed concern.

Questions being asked by some Linux professionals and devotees include:

  • Will Red Hat lose customer confidence now that it's part of IBM and not an independent company?
  • Will IBM continue putting funds into open source after paying such a huge price for Red Hat? Will they curtail what Red Hat is able to invest?
  • Both companies’ leaders are saying all the right things now, but can they predict how their business partners and customers will react as they move forward? Will their good intentions be derailed?

Part of the worry simply comes from the size of this deal. Thirty-four billion dollars is a lot of money. This is probably the largest cloud computing acquisition to date. What kind of strain will that price tag put on how the new IBM functions going forward? Other worries come from the character of the acquisition – whether Red Hat will be able to continue operating independently and what will change if it cannot. In addition, it's easy for Linux devotees to recall Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010 and Sun’s slow death in the aftermath.

The good news is that this merger of IBM and Red Hat appears to offer each of the companies some significant benefits. IBM makes a strong move into cloud computing, and Red Hat gains a broader international footing.

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