Lee Congdon, Red Hat

By Brian P. Watson Print this article Print

In what ways are today's innovative CIOs exploiting today's emerging information technologies?

Red Hat's Lee Congdon: Aiming for a world-class, open-source enterprise.
Congdon joined Red Hat in March 2007 as vice president of global information technology. He previously held positions in I.T. management with Capital One, NASDAQ and Citicorp, after starting his career as an operating system developer with IBM. He manages a staff of 160 people in 30 locations around the world. He spoke with Baseline's Brian P. Watson.

Baseline: What innovative things are you working on?

Congdon: We're deploying Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 [operating system] on desktops right now. We're starting on a number of programs to take our I.T. organization to the next level. My goal is to be the world-class, open-source enterprise. So we're looking at not only our own products, but partner products, to deliver capabilities. We're making more use of JBoss (Java-based application server) and MetaMatrix (data management and integration software), but also looking broadly at our partners, particularly in Red Hat Exchange (an open-source marketplace for developers).

What are the most innovative things the I.T. department has done in the past?

I've been delighted with the technical work the team has done to implement our products in our internal environment. And I'm certainly very pleased with using the products we deliver to customers in the desktop and server environment. I'm also pleased with the interaction with product group, on both sides, to determine what capabilities we need and looking to external channels for feature capabilities. And then we're just getting started with Red Hat Exchange, but many of those partners offer products that I can see direct applicability for our enterprise, so I'm excited about that as well.

How do you foster innovation inside your company?

I have a game plan based on my past experience that I'm adapting to the organization at Red Hat. Openness and receptiveness from the team, from the business, from our partners, from the community and our partners is essential to any firm, but particularly essential at an open-source firm. One of the great advantages we have at Red Hat is that people are so immersed and excited about technology. I have not only my team, but the whole organization, out there looking for and sharing ideas and concepts. That really sparks an organization that's receptive to change and looking for the next technology that can really change the business. And that's an exciting thing.

What can other CIOs do to foster innovation?

I think it needs to be part of the fundamental fabric of what information technology organizations do, because that adds value to the enterprise. We need to weave it into everything from the operations, like how they use virtualization, to the development organization, where they can use our tools to improve their capability to deliver, to the capabilities of our partners. The executive team has welcomed me as a member. The (information technology) staff works closely with the entire executive team to recognize strategic imperatives and make sure they're supported by the information technology organization.

This article was originally published on 2007-06-07
Associate Editor

Brian joined Baseline in March 2006. In addition to previous stints at Inter@ctive Week and The Net Economy, he's written for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., as well as The Sunday Tribune in Dublin, Ireland. Brian has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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