An interview with Javed Tapia, Director Red Hat India

With the announcement of the Fedora Project, various analysts have predicted a shift in the corporate strategy for Red Hat. In an interview for Indian GNU/Linux Users Group - Kolkata, Javed Tapia (Director - Red Hat India) talks to Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay about Fedora and other current issues.

SM: Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay sankarshan at bengalinux dot org
JT: Javed Tapia Director - Red Hat India

SM: There has been a lot of talk about ‘Fedora’ - what exactly does the Fedora project signify ?
JT: The intention of the Fedora project is to use the early adopter community as well as the hobbyist/tinkerer to continue to define Linux and Red Hat Linux in particular. Changes and innovations in the Fedora Project will be incorporated into the Red Hat Enterprise Linux product line.

SM: Is Fedora really a bleeding edge unstable environment or does it exemplify Red Hat’s global policy of contributing to the community ?
JT: Fedora will be actively participated by Red Hat, but will involve a greater community participation as well. So, the transformation of the Red Hat product line is in a sense a maturing of the product to bring Red Hat Linux into the enterprise

SM: How does the value addition begin with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux segment ?
JT: The Red Hat Enterprise Linux line was created to specifically address the comments and concerns of CIOs, IT directors etc who have, over the years, indicated that they are less likely to deploy Red Hat Linux into their core systems because of the perceived churn of the product. They require a fairly unchanging product that lasts for between 18 to 36 months so that they can realize return on investments as well as be able to deploy products such as Oracle, SAP, WebLogic etc into the datacenter. Also, these ISVs require time for deployment of their products and if the Red Hat Linux product keeps moving the “goal posts” as it were, it will be difficult for them to gear up support.

SM: Red Hat has some unique success stories with the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission in MP - what has been the progress from then on ?
JT: We have set up a full fledged support and service center in Bhopal for Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission (RGSM) to address their requirements.

SM: Can we see such implementations in other states ?
JT: Yes, we are in talks with various state governments for their requirements.

SM: Tell us something about the Localised Red Hat distributions…
JT: We are on localisation and very soon localised Red Hat distribution will be a part of our offerings.

SM: e-governance seems to be the ‘word’ in vogue, how is Red Hat participating in the process ?
JT: Red Hat is actively engaging with various state governments for their e-governance requirements. Moreover, we are in a process of signing MoU’s with various bodies which are instrumental in Government’s e-governance initiatives.

SM: With the (not too) recent acquisition of SuSe by Novell, do you think that the market is big enough for more players ?
JT: Attractive markets attract new players. We expect these moves. It simply validates the enormous customer interest and market opportunity in Open Source technology, and the progress Red Hat has achieved as the industry leader.
We’re committed to remain a pure-play Open Source technology company. That’s what is creating value for customers, and our results speak for themselves (AOL, Amazon, 7 of 10 Wall St. institutions, financial results, #1 market share, #1 in partnerships). There’s no reason now to reinvent our business strategy; Novell’s move validates the soundness of our strategy.
We are of the strong opinion that the market is mature enough for new players. This would surely increase the overall Linux market space in India.

SM: Red Hat India began when ‘Linux’ as something of a hacker phenomenon, now even chief ministers are talking about it - how well do you think has the market evolved ?
JT: The open source movement is making strides in India with the developer community in the country also evincing stupendous interest in the Linux platform.
In India there is a huge momentum in the state governments of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Various government departments in India have readily adopted Linux as a preferred platform. For instance, Pune based supercomputer maker and R&D institution, C-DAC has recently announced a major deployment of Linux.

SM: Certification and education programs are a strong point with the company - could you tell us more about the division ?
JT: In the education sector, we are supporting lot of engineering institutions towards their Open Source initiatives. Moreover, We have a properly laid program for the certification on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

SM: Industry-community interaction is one of the most exciting aspects of F/L OSS movements, how does Red Hat participate in these ?
JT: Industry - community interaction is a crucial part of Open Source movement and we at Red Hat acknowledge the importance it holds. Fedora is one such project of participation.

SM: Any plans for such events in Kolkata ?
JT: In the past we had many events in Kolkata for eg with Webel. We are keen and looking forward to many events in Kolkata.

SM: I would like to thank you for your time, it has been a pleasure talking about Red Hat India Pvt Ltd and the IT scenario.

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