Red Hat (RHT) today provided partners with a roadmap during its partner conference general session in Scottsdale, Ariz. (did I mention how great it is to be away from the frigid weather in the Northeast?). Here are the details.

Red Hat executives, along with executives from IBM (IBM) and Cisco (CSCO), unveiled what they called the sociology of innovation, opportunities for partners, partner achievements and how partners can migrate customers to the cloud with Red Hat.

Here are a few of highlights from Red Hat's morning sessions:

Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst (on the sociology of innovation)

  • Whitehurst told attendees that he would not be giving a history lesson this year like he did last year.
  • The way businesses innovate has changed over the years, Whitehurst said. Instead of innovating internally, businesses are now collaborating, he said.
  • According to Whitehurst, there are four various levels of innovation in technology: mainframe, client server, Internet era and cloud shift.
  • Whitehurst said mainframe innovation was held and managed by companies with large research and development budgets.
  • He said there was an explosion of innovation around client server. This explosion forced vendors to partner with other vendors, not just ones with large R&D budgets, according to Whitehurst. While there was a great potential to innovate, innovation was still happening within the walls of individual companies.
  • "The Internet is one of the most fundamental things that has impacted innovation and the cloud paradigm of technology," he said. 
  • Cloud is playing real-time, Whitehurst said.
  • Marketing departments have taken hold of big data, so nobody knows what big data means anymore, he said.
  • The cloud market is chaotic and it’s going to stay chaotic, he noted.
  • Whitehurst said the architecture of participation is much more important than technology.
  • The market will have to address how to build successful businesses in the open, he said.
  • Open source is a legal license model, but there is a broader spirit as to how innovation happens, he said. This spirit can be leveraged by working in communities, while also bringing along important vendors to healthy communities.
  • Red Hat works "to drive ecosystems, not to drive agendas," Whitehurst said.
  • "We are much more focused starting at the customer in mind," he said. Customers want to use public and private clouds. How do we provide architecture to these customers?
  • According to Whitehurst, Red Hat brought AWS and Google to the event because both companies are a huge part of the ecosystem.
  • Customers want to be able to leverage multiple vendors, he said.
  • Red Hat is asking partners to drive the direction of our technologies, Whitehurst said.

Cisco Worldwide Channels Datacenter/Virtualization Solutions Director Brian Allison (on what Cisco believes is a big opportunity for partners)

  • The fundamental thing Cisco is working is to drive with partners is leadership, Allison said.
  • Cisco is rolling out a joint program with Red Hat today, which includes a playbook and quick reference guides, he said.
  • Big data is a big opportunity, Allison said. The market is a little too focused on data management, he added. There are bigger opportunities out there that can drive the entire stack, he said.
  • Allison noted that Cisco is going to be driving DevOps in the second half of its fiscal year.
  • Cisco wants partners to actively build transformation strategies, he said. 

Red Hat Global Channel Sales Senior Vice President Mark Enzweiler (on partner achievements and strategy)

  • Enzweiler started off by saying that that he gets to brag about partners today.
  • In North America, 69 percent of bookings were through the channel, he said.
  • More than 80 percent of Red Hat's customers are managed by the partner base, Enzweiler said.
  • According to Enzweiler, partners have changed the culture here at Red Hat during the past seven years.
  • "I do think it’s a good time to be a Red Hat partner," he said.
  •  Red Hat is averaging 1,000 net new customers globally every month, according to him.  
  • “We now have five technologies in six routes, and Red Hat is no longer viewed as the Linux company,” he said.
  • Red Hat will continue to aggressively invest in headcount, enablement, marketing, joint go-to-market activities and partner business plans, Enzweiler said.
  • "We will follow a less-is-more strategy with our partners,” he said, nothing that Red Hat only has 800 partners in North America.
  • Priorities for FY14 include worldwide programs to improve revenue and margin, improve customer retention, enable and expand all routes, Enzweiler said.
  • Red Hat now has 11 certifications for partners across three technologies, he said. The company's certifications are "real dollars" to partners, he said.
  • The company has about nine playbooks today, which take partners from the beginning to end of a customer’s journey, he said. 
  • Enzweiler said Red Hat wants to find out what works best for partners and leverage touch points. 
  • Partners are the closest to the customers, he said. He added that partners have the voice of what customers are asking.

IBM System X Marketing/Business management Vice President Bob Galush (on IBM portfolio and partners)

  • Galush referenced IBM investing in $1 billion in leadership platforms, new storage systems, flash/networking, and energy and efficiency.
  • Partnering is about starting with the philosophy that everything is going to be open, he said.
  • IBM includes high-end systems, volume systems, blades/integrated systems, and dense systems into its leadership systems portfolio, Galosh said.
  • Partners are looking to partner with vendors that can be a trusted technology leader, he said.

Red Hat Infrastructure Group Senior Vice President Tim Yeaton (on how Red Hat gets customers ready for hybrid cloud)

  • Every customer needs to move to hybrid cloud to become successful in the market, Yeaton said.
  • "Hybrid clouds are not bought, but built," he said.
  •  Open source technology is very visible and very accepted among various organizations across the spectrum, he said.
  • "Innovation in software has changed, fundamentally and forever," Yeaton said.
  • Red Hat has been true to its open source business model, he said.
  • According to Yeaton, hybrid cloud will revolve around Red Hat's IaaS, management and PaaS products.
  • Vision around hybrid cloud is in response to what Red Hat is hearing from customers, he said.
  • Yeaton said Red Hat's vision for hybrid cloud is to let customers define workloads and deploy them on whatever of these vehicles makes the most sense, giving them the flexibility to change their minds.
  • "I think that now there is more opportunity for partners than ever before in Red Hat," he said.
  • Yeaton said Red Hat’s model includes integration, participation, delivery and integration.
  • "We have the largest OpenStack ecosystem out there," he said.
  • Red Hat customers understand the value of open source, he noted.

Be sure to take a look at The VAR Guy's full coverage of the 2014 Red Hat Partner Conference:

Keep checking back for further conference updates.