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Red Hat set to help customers and partners capture AI's potential

Christopher Tredger
By Christopher Tredger, Portals editor
Johannesburg, 12 Sept 2023
Dion Harvey, regional GM at Red Hat, sub-Saharan Africa.
Dion Harvey, regional GM at Red Hat, sub-Saharan Africa.

The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) has become mainstream is one of several emerging technology trends impacting sub-Saharan Africa’s IT, software development and supply chain operations.

This is according to the speakers at the recent EMEA leg of the Red Hat Connect Summit 2023 series in Johannesburg, which served to showcase the enterprise open-source company’s technology and channel-centric approach.

Red Hat has expanded the capabilities of its technology stack to help customers and partners take full advantage of their investments in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, automation, security and data analytics. The company also wants to support channel partners in helping their customers simplify the process of building technical competency.

Dion Harvey, regional GM at Red Hat sub-Saharan Africa, said businesses are challenged by the need to scale quickly but securely, and by the shortage of available skillsets – specifically around AI and machine learning (AI/ML).

“These shouldn’t be a barrier,” said Harvey. “We believe that if we are to make a difference in a complex world, customers must develop their own ecosystem… if we work together – ourselves and our alliance partners – we can help clients deal with the realities.”

Speaking earlier this year at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, Massachusetts, Red Hat’s president and CEO Matt Hicks said what makes Red Hat different from other vendors is its approach: “…our laser focus on enabling you to deploy any application – from the laptop to thedata centre, from the cloud to the edge, whether it’s incremental changes to manage your realities today, or revolutionary AI capabilities – we want to provide platforms to get you there faster.”

AI drives open source adoption

During the Connect Summit, Red Hat highlighted the profound impact AI has had on business and IT.

James Labocki, senior director of product management at Red Hat, said the company views AI as an extension of open source and foresees an increase in AI/ML adoption across regions, including sub-Sahara Africa.

“We’ve picked up on a new understanding of AI applicability in the market, a new sense of how AI can unlock real business value. We have open AI architecture in place, which incorporates AI/ML to help you to become more efficient and grow at scale.”

The company has integrated AI/ML, cloud, security and automation into its platform and solution portfolio, built around open hybrid cloud and OpenShift AI, which provides a standardised foundation for creating production AI/ML models, and running the resulting applications. 

Readiness to adopt

Harvey stressed the need to understand the realities that customers are facing, and the importance of Red Hat's partner ecosystem in delivering the right solutions.

“…If you look at the power of our automation and of our hybrid cloud technologies, in and of itself, they solve nothing – unless you can understand the challenge of your customer.”

He said this understanding is essential to Red Hat’s service, and he used the cloud migration journey as an example.

“For each of them, their departure point is different… their ‘why’ is different…. There’s no point in me walking in and telling someone how cool our tech is or trying to impose our opinion of what a cloud adoption journey should be. You have to meet the customer where they are.”

Harvey said in cases where there are challenges experienced or difficulties with building technical competencies and investment in infrastructure, often the technology itself is not the issue. “It’s the readiness to adopt, it is skills – and not just technical skills – it’s a cloud readiness mindset, you must have that to begin your cloud journey.”