The federal government’s widespread adoption of cloud computing has created new opportunities for open source platform provider Red Hat.
Cloud services are readily available, and agencies have jumped in with both feet. This often results in a fragmented approach to cloud — and now, IT leaders need a way to tame the sprawl.
“You have on-prem applications, you have cloud applications and they’re totally disconnected from each other. Everything is siloed, and that’s causing a lot of problems,” said Joe Sangiuliano, Red Hat’s vice president of business development and alliances for public sector.
With nine years’ experience at Red Hat, Sangiuliano is convinced an open source approach offers agencies and their systems integrator partners the best path forward.
Agencies can’t afford a labor-intensive, siloed approach to cloud, “and at the same time, they don’t want to be locked into one single provider in cloud,” Sangiuliano said. With an abstraction layer of software based on containers, or Kubernetes, Red Hat makes it possible to get maximum value from a full and open hybrid cloud strategy.
“We’re in the business of helping customers manage their data most effectively across multiple clouds,” he said. “On-prem, off-prem, on the edge: that’s what our software packages do.”
It’s possible for agencies to implement a containerized approach to cloud on their own, but they may lack the in-house capability to scale up those solutions. Red Hat’s longstanding expertise in the open source world has thus opened doors across a wide variety of defense and civilian federal agencies, with platform-based offerings that make it possible to implement open source at enterprise scale.
Red Hat doesn’t do this alone, but rather in partnership with other GovCons, especially the systems integrators driving federal IT modernization efforts.
“We work very closely with our partners, supporting the integrators whose move to digital transformation is built on our platforms,” Sangiuliano said. “We help them to make open source repeatable and reliable and secure for government customers.”
With Red Hat already widely deploying in the federal space, Sangiuliano said the company’s public sector growth opportunity lies in bringing to bear the value of open source higher up the technology stack.
“Right now, for example, there’s a governmentwide push for DevSecOps, and we have a platform that support that,” he said. “Agencies also are moving to artificial intelligence and machine learning, and we have an AI/ML platform that runs on our software.”
More than just an operating system, Red Hat can serve as a foundational technology in support of these more advanced use cases.
The biggest challenge to that vision? It’s the ready availability of cloud services.
With a wide open marketplace, anyone in the IT arena can launch a cloud implementation — and many do, often to the detriment of the IT professionals tasked with supporting that sprawl. Call it the Frankenstein effect.
To counter that trend, “we need to go in and explain why the abstraction layer is so important,” Sangiuliano said.
“That’s what gives them the control they need,” he continued. “Then it doesn’t matter where the infrastructure actually exists: that becomes commoditized, and you are controlling the data. That’s really where we’re trying to go, and that’s really what open hybrid cloud is all about.”
As an added benefit, the open source nature of Red Hat’s offerings can ensure agencies a higher level of security across their multiple cloud iterations. Advocates for open source have long argued such software — developed collaboratively, within an engaged community — will inherently raise the bar on cybersecurity.
“With open source, government agencies can have more eyeballs on the software,” Sangiuliano said. “With a community approach, we can expose the vulnerabilities more quickly. It’s just the power of numbers, and it’s one of the key differentiators in favor of open source technology.”
Internally, that same communal spirit helps with recruitment and retention. At a time when GovCons are struggling to find and keep IT talent, Sangiuliano said, Red Hat’s collaborative culture gives it a definite advantage.
“We allow people the freedom to explore the things that they find interesting,” he said. “We allow them to put in their opinions and we have an open decision framework. That keeps our associates engaged and committed — the fact that they’re allowed to contribute, even outside their current context of responsibility. And that really works out great, because you get all kinds of different perspectives and diversity of thought.”
On a personal level, Sangiuliano said he enjoys leading teams in such a highly collaborative environment, where a diversity of voices often helps surface the newest and best ideas. At the same time, he said, he also takes special satisfaction in being able to support the federal end-user community.
“The people in public sector, they’re here to serve,” he said. “There’s a higher calling that they adhere to. Often, they are supporting life-or-death missions. They’re very serious and they’re very passionate about what they do. I love being a part of that mission.”