‘Why didn’t we meet before?!’ - The story of the FIWARE and Red Hat partnership

Author: Will Needham Published on: August 4, 2020

In May 2020, it was announced that Red Hat would be joining the FIWARE Foundation as their newest Platinum Member. Now the dust has begun to settle, I sat down with Shashin Shinde (Chief Technology Strategist, Red Hat EMEA) and Juanjo Hierro (Chief Technology Officer, FIWARE Foundation) to discuss in more detail how this partnership came about and what it means for both parties and the wider Smart Solutions ecosystem as a whole.

How the FIWARE & Red Hat partnership began

Whilst the partnership was officially announced in May 2020, the working relationship between FIWARE and Red Hat had been cultivated for nearly three years prior to this date. “The first time I met Ulrich Ahle (CEO, FIWARE Foundation), was at a Fujitsu Forum event in Munich”, Shashin begins. In the following period from 2018 to 2020, the two companies stepped progressively through a series of follow-up meetings to explore the visions of both companies, the role of technology and what a partnership between the two companies could look like.

Juanjo explained how the companies easily found common ground: “During these initial meetings, we found that our market offerings were in fact complementary. It was a real opportunity to complement each other. In fact, many FIWARE partners were already integrating Red Hat technologies with FIWARE technologies”.

Over that same time period, the Smart Solutions market was maturing. The value of open-source, interoperable solutions built on a neutral platform was becoming clear to clients. “Cities in the European Union and in the Middle East were asking us about Smart Cities”, Shashin told me, “they were asking: what are we doing in this space? Clients were asking about an open-source approach, because until then, they were being offered siloed, verticalized solutions.” This validation from ecosystem partners and clients (on both the FIWARE and the Red Hat side) helped drive the formal partnership that we see today.

By the end of the discussions it was clear that “both organizations share a lot of things: culture, what it means to run an open source initiative, what it means to drive the implementation of open standards”, Juanjo told me, “there was a point in time where we both said ‘Why didn’t we meet before?!’”. And with that, the announcement that Red Hat would become the latest FIWARE Platinum Partner was made official on the 20th May 2020. This means that Red Hat now hold a permanent seat on the FIWARE Board of Directors; the governance body which drives the strategic direction of the initiative. Also, Red Hat will play a vital role in the FIWARE Technical Steering Committee; the body that drives the technical direction for the FIWARE Foundation.

What are four key areas of focus in the early days of the partnership?

Shashin and Juanjo highlighted four key areas in which they will focus their joint attention in the coming months:

  1. Standardization – Red Hat will support the further standardization of the framework for open source platform components, including the powerful API: FIWARE NGSI.
  2. The Digital Single Market – Shashin explained to me how “you can’t just have conceptual conversations for a long time, clients need to see the ideas in working in practice". Red Hat will support the development of a Digital Single Market for Smart Solutions and help the existing FIWARE partners bring their ideas to fruition quicker and in a more sustainable way.
  3. Technical roadmap for emerging technologies – Red Hat and FIWARE will work together to develop a roadmap for how technologies such as AI, Blockchain and Robotics can be used to develop new Smart Solutions.
  4. Communication - Red Hat can leverage its global presence to accelerate the adoption of FIWARE technologies, sharing the vision of an open, standardized framework for interoperable Smart Solutions. Red Hat can help scale the FIWARE model to a wider geographical footprint, inviting a diverse new set of clients and partners in new locations.

Benefits for all

It is easy to see how bringing together the FIWARE Foundation and Red Hat ecosystems will bring considerable benefits for all. “Open source is in Red Hat’s DNA”, Juanjo explained, “for 25 years they have been promoting open source and they have been instrumental in the adoption of many open source technologies. They will share all this experience and expertise to the FIWARE ecosystem”. It is not just the FIWARE ecosystem that will benefit, existing Red Hat clients too will enjoy a closer alignment to the FIWARE open source interoperable standard for Smart Solution development.

On top of these primary benefits for both ecosystems, Juanjo added “it is not just about the short-term benefits, but more about the long-term strategic benefits that this partnership will bring”. This will certainly be the case when it comes to the integration and standardization of emerging technologies in smart solutions. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and Digital Twins all show promise but currently lack a standardized approach for their implementation, something which Juanjo believes the FIWARE Foundation is very well placed to deliver.

A bright future ahead

This year, the global pandemic and the fight for social justice has added further complexity to the challenges that our cities and industrial sectors face. FIWARE partner solutions will be crucial in helping cities and industrial partners navigate a sustainable path to recovery, and with Red Hat now as Platinum Members of the FIWARE Foundation, this will surely only accelerate.

But, I believe this coming together signifies more than just a technology partnership. To me, it shouts “we’re listening”. Listening to a market that for years has asked for open, standardized and interoperable smart solutions. Furthermore, it is not just about what solutions are developed, but critically, how these solutions are developed. It is clear that to tackle the societal challenges we face, we must work collaboratively. Sharing expertise in an open forum and all contributing towards a common goal - values that lie right at the heart of both Red Hat and the FIWARE Foundation.

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