Brian Stevens abruptly leaves Red Hat, shows up at the Googleplex as VP of product management for its cloud platforms unit.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

September 12, 2014

3 Min Read

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Brian Stevens, the brainy, sometimes hard-bitten technologist who served as CTO of Red Hat, abruptly resigned that post on Aug. 27 and has resurfaced as VP of product management for Google Cloud Platform -- or Google App Engine and Compute Engine.

Stevens's departure from Red Hat was announced so tersely that it suggested internal tensions, if not conflict. "Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Brian Stevens will step down as CTO," the website read, adding "We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat's business."

"We wish him well in his future endeavors," said Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat.

Stevens was a no-nonsense technologist who often spent time onstage explaining to audiences that what had once had been trumpeted as great had turned out to be not so great. What you should really pay attention to, he advised, were virtual machines, high-availability clusters, and Linux containers.

Stevens joined Red Hat in 2001 after a stint at Digital Equipment Corp., where he led Digital's TruCluster project, a cluster of VAX machines that ran Digital's version of Unix (as opposed to the VaxCluster, which ran Digital's VMS). Stevens extended his deep knowledge of Unix into the Linux field.

With his departure, the office of the CTO has been managed by another high-ranking Red Hat executive who came from Digital: Paul Cormier, former VP of engineering and now president of products and technologies. Cormier worked on Digital's Alta Vista search engine project, which Digital developed to illustrate the compute power of a cluster of VAX minicomputers, before Google was founded.

[Want to learn more about Red Hat's approach to Linux containers? See Red Hat Linux Containers: Not Just Recycled Ideas.]

Stevens, who started his job at Google on Sept. 8, will bring an appreciation of Linux containers, among other things, to Google. At the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, Stevens was one of the company's chief spokesmen in explaining the firm's new emphasis on Docker and working with containers. That should help him fit in with his new employer, as Google has used Linux containers in its internal operations for several years. The company has made its container provisioning and group management software, Kubernetes, available as an open-source code project. Red Hat under Stevens was an early enlistee in the project.

A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stevens developed an interest in computer high availability and clustering, virtualization, and distributed systems early in his career. He sits on the boards of Pentaho, an open-source analytics firm; DataGravity, a storage firm; the open-source OpenStack Foundation; and the IEEE Computer Society.

Stevens couldn't be reached for comment, but his Linkedin profile reflects his new position at Google. Sources close to the situation confirmed the move and revealed his new title.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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