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New Google cloud VP hire could signal open-source embrace

A former Red Hat executive has apparently taken the reins of Google Cloud Platform, in a move that could signal a bigger embrace of the open-source community by the cloud provider.

Brian Stevens, former Red Hat CTO, has reportedly been hired by Google as the vice president of cloud platforms. Stevens’ Twitter and LinkedIn profile list his presumed new title while Google says it doesn’t comment on individual hires.

Industry analysts praised Stevens’ work with Red Hat, and see the hire as a smart move by Google.

Stevens has been a tireless advocate for OpenStack and drove Red Hat’s involvement with the OpenStack Foundation and its leadership within the community, according to Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass.

“He understands how open source projects need to be supported and nurtured into something the enterprise can actually use,” Bartoletti said. “I expect Google sees in him someone who can help them become a leader in open source and OpenStack, and not just a contributor.”

Stevens understands the power of open-source and how to set a vision — two attributes that could help Google as it looks to new leadership to direct its cloud strategy, according to David Linthicum, senior vice president with Cloud Technology Partners, a Boston-based consulting firm. Linthicum singled out Stevens’ role in getting Red Hat to embrace OpenStack and Docker.

“Were I in charge of the Google cloud strategy, Brian would be on my list of people to tap, so it’s not that much of a surprise,” Linthicum said.

Google is currently spearheading Kubernetes, an open-source container management project with the backing of some of the biggest vendors in the industry, and Google Compute Engine is compatible with a number of open-source tools. But Stevens can help Google craft an OpenStack strategy and lure developers to Google Compute Engine and Google App Engine, the company’s infrastructure- and platform as a service offerings, respectively.

“The battle for the developer mindshare in the cloud will be around API support, so I expect him to help build some bridges between Google’s cloud platforms and APIs and the broader OpenStack community,” Bartoletti said.

There are huge demands that come with the position of CTO, Linthicum said, and they’re not always related to technology. Google and Red Hat are both great companies to work for, but it may have been time for a change.

“I suspect after 12 years of doing that, he may be looking for new challenges,” Linthicum said.

“Good for Google, good for Brian, and certainly takes nothing away from Red Hat.”

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