Registration is open for Red Hat Summit 2021, and the price is right – it's free.
Those who attended last year's first-ever virtual Red Hat Summit can expect more of the same at this year’s event, which means ask-the-expert sessions, demos of Red Hat's latest and greatest products, workshops and presentations, and, of course, a virtual exhibit hall.
They can also expect to be in a crowded virtual space. While the last in-person Red Hat Summit (held in Boston in 2019) drew an audience of 8,900, considered quite large by tech conference standards, last year's virtual event drew more than nine times that number, with over 82,000 in attendance.
There will be a major difference from last year's summit, and all previous year's, however. For 2021, instead of a single event spread over a few days, Red Hat plans to hold three separate online conferences under a single Red Hat Summit 2021 banner, with registrants for the first event automatically registered for the two virtual events that follow.
The first of these events will be held on April 27-28, followed by another on June 15-16 and a third event on as-yet-unspecified dates in September.
"The third is really a hybrid offering, if we can go back to having in-person events, and that would be between September and December," Leigh Day, vice president of marketing communications and brand at Red Hat, told ITPro Today. "There would be a virtual aspect in September, with a roadshow type of in-person model following through December."
In other words, if in-person events are able to happen by this fall, the third virtual summit will be followed by a number of small in-person conferences, with much reduced attendance to accommodate social distancing.
"We won't go back to having a 10,000-person event," she said. "If we do in-person, it will be smaller and in several cities."
The venues for the in-person events haven't been decided yet, but will be located "in cities where we have the biggest demographic base."
Right now, however, Red Hat's focus is on the event that's just a couple of months away.
"That first one happening in April is really pretty high level," said Day. "That's where we'll have our announcements and we'll have some customer references and lab partners join our keynote sessions, and have some ask-the-experts sessions."
Since the summit's website doesn't yet have a schedule posted, we asked Day who would be giving keynote presentations for the April Red Hat Summit 2021 event.
"Our CEO, Paul Cormier, is definitely a fan favorite, and he's going to be talking about our hybrid cloud strategy," she said. "We're going to have our EVP of engineering, Matt Hicks, and his role will be to talk about the announcements and the advancements that are more current, more recent. Then we will also have our CTO, Chris Wright, and he's really our visionary. He's going to be talking about things like machine learning, artificial intelligence and what the future holds for open source and for Red Hat."
While Cormier may be a fan favorite, we couldn't help but wonder if former CEO Jim Whitehurst, who turned the company into a billions-of-dollars-a-year enterprise, might make an appearance during a keynote address. Although Whitehurst now serves as president for the company's owner, IBM, he still has something akin to rock star status among Red Hat's followers.
"I don't know if Jim is going to attend, but I'm certain that we will be asking IBM if they would like to play a part," she said. "Arvind [Krishna, IBM's CEO] made an appearance during our last summit, so I'm sure that invitation will be made."
We also asked who Red Hat thought would benefit from attending the conference.
"It really runs the gamut from people who are interested in what's happening with Red Hat in general – what moves we're making in the market – to executives who are interested in hearing what their peers are doing with our technology. There are also more technical groups that want to have personal access to our experts and people that are actually touching products and code. So, it really runs the gamut."
There's also going to be entertainment at Red Hat Summit 2021, which is definitely not something that's expected at a two-day tech conference, whether in-person or virtual – although who will be supplying the entertainment is evidently still a question mark.
"I think the entertainment definitely complements our sense of humor, our brand and our lightheartedness," Day said. "We'll be talking about what that entertainment will be when we get it solidified."