RALEIGH – Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst says the looming $34 billion merger with IBM is already creating clashes of culture – apparently good natured – even as the deal moves toward regulatory approval.

“They’re all so nice and polite and we’re like, ‘that’s ridiculous’,” Whitehurst said of the IBMers.

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Speaking at the annual Red Hat Summit in Boston on Tuesday, Whitehurst said talks about how to merge and operate the two tech giants has triggered differences in operating cultures. From the time the deal has announced, Whitehurst and IBM Chair and CEO Ginni Rometty have said that Red Hat will remain independent,

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“We’ve had this bluntly a little bit with IBM where we’ll have these meetings and they’re all so nice and polite, and we’ll be like ‘that sucks’ or ‘that’s ridiculous,’ and we’re just used to our operating that way, we don’t mean it in a bad way; we assume positive intent,” Whitehurst said, according to a report from CRN.

Whitehurst noted that the open source software and services firm has a culture of “constructive conflict.”

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He said at the firm he runs that “We really do try to encourage this kind of creative abrasion, which to a lot of people feel really really harsh. But we really think that’s how the best ideas emerge.”

The US Justice Department on Monday granted approval of the Red Hat-IBM deal, which was announced last October. But Whitehurst noted that approval from the European Union is still needed.

The deal is expected to be approved later this year, IBM said in disclosing the US DOJ approval.

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Whitehurst noted that “there’s a set of planning we can do” in the interim.

“I will say broadly I think IBM and Red Hat share the same vision of hybrid multicloud,” he said. “And I’m really excited that with their breadth and scale, and our infrastructure stack and what we’re doing in open source communities, that we can provide tremendous value to our enterprise customers as they move to hybrid and multicloud.”

Rometty has stressed the cloud as the business opportunity driving her desire to acquire Red Hat.

“Red Hat’s strategy is very much to be able run literally the same infrastructure across every public cloud, virtualised or bare metal,” Whitehurst told Computer Weekly. “We’re trying to create a homogeneous, standardised single infrastructure that you build your applications on and run everywhere.”

In remarks delivered to open the Summit, Rometty assured the crowd that Red Hat will remain an independent company as promised.