“From white hat to Red Hat,” was the joke a senior executive of Red Hat quipped to Alessandro Perilli, after hearing excerpts from The Manila Times interview with him, to which Perilli answered back with a wink, and a seemingly knowing smile. In the vast world of technology, a “white hat” is an internet slang, which refers to an ethical computer hacker or a computer security expert who hacks with the intention of improving security systems.
Perilli is currently the general manager for Cloud Management Strategy for Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions. The technology company recently hosted a full-house Red Hat Forum Asia Pacific in Manila, where key senior executives were in attendance.
The London-based executive spoke about how open source is programming the digital future, which implies that open source technology’s growth and acceptance will continue to be radically aggressive for both the short and long term.
His key takeaway message is that “open source is becoming the de facto standard for innovation and this depends on a growing confidence that the market is developing for open source technologies, and this comes thanks to web scale companies that are showing the world how reliable open source can be on a huge scale.”
He points to Facebook as an example of one that serves more than a billion users per day and is leveraging on open source solutions to do that.
Red Hat is an American software company that is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina.
It provides enterprise-strength, mission-critical software and services in today’s most important IT areas, specifically on operating systems, storage, middleware, virtualization and cloud computing.
Its open source model supplies enterprises with computing solutions across physical virtual and cloud environments that reduce costs and improve performance, reliability and security.
The company was founded in 1993, a result of a merger between two companies.
Back then, Bob Young incorporated the ACC Corporation, a catalog business that sold Linux and Unix software accessories.
In 1994, Marc Ewing created his own Linux distribution, which he named Red Hat Linux.
The following year, Young bought Ewing’s business and the two merged to become Red Hat Software.
The technology company went public in August 1999.
That day, Red Hat achieved the eighth-biggest first-day gain in the history of Wall Street.
In 2002, the company came out with its very first release of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Today, Red Hat continues to offer open source and enterprise IT solutions at a fraction of the cost of non-open sourced technologies.
Among its expertise is providing interoperability to use a range of solutions from multiple providers, as well as military-grade security with technologies built in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US.
In the Philippines, Red Hat executives encourage local businesses to be more open and aggressive in the adoption of open source technology innovations.
In particular, Perilli points out that today, “there are a number of newcomers that are disruptors for existing traditional mainstream industries and they are leveraging open source, not because it is cheaper than proprietary alternatives, but because they can tap into this massive pool of talents worldwide, without having to hire them, and knowing that these talents are everywhere, they can contribute to solve problems that were unsolvable five or 10 years ago.”
The Italian-born tech executive says he came on board Red Hat in March 2014, and when asked what his job entails, he laughed as he explained that his title is really just a fancy way to describe somebody that looks at the market trends and how the new generation is looking at their products, their expectations, how they are changing habits in terms of consuming technology in general, and what Red Hat should do to remain relevant to that generation.
In describing himself, Perilli admits to having been fascinated with IT security at a very young age.
He says he used to be a (white hat) hacker, being paid by private sector, and in some cases, government clients to try and break the fences of systems.
Over the years, he says he has evolved into a security architect and instructor, becoming a book author before moving into virtualization.
Perilli says someday he sees himself entering the venture capital world.
“I always joke and say there are two things I want to do for the second part of my life: I would like to be surrounded by beauty, meaning art, and by ideas, referring to the venture capital world,” the 38-year old adds.
For now, he manages to include his love for art in his work, by making sure he visits museums and art exhibits in his free time during travels.
Perilli also continuously tries to broaden his knowledge of different cultures while traveling, by trying to engage cab drivers in a conversation to learn about their culture and how they think.
In doing what he does, he is grateful that he is able to mentor and contribute at the same time to the ever-changing world of technology where he has always found his passion.