CTO Brian Stevens is out at Red Hat, according to a curt press release issued by the company Wednesday evening.

"We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat's business. We wish him well in his future endeavors," said President and CEO Jim Whitehurst in the statement.

Red Hat also said that president of products and technologies Paul Cormier will take over as interim CTO. A spokesperson told Techworld's sister title Network World that there is no time frame on a permanent replacement for Stevens, who had been with Red Hat for 12 years.

IDC analyst Al Gillen said that Stevens is well-regarded, and his departure will be keenly felt at Red Hat.

"[I]t is a significant loss for Red Hat, as Brian was a key technology strategist for the company," Gillen said. "Brian is relatively young and has lots of energy, so it would not be surprising to see him land in another influential role in open source world at some point in the future."

Evidence of Stevens' sterling reputation was easy to come by on Twitter, where numerous well-wishers posted messages of support (such as here, here and here, as shown below).

Red Hat's spokesperson also said that there is "no truth" to rumors that personal differences between Stevens and Red Hat leadership, despite reports from ZDNet, which cited anonymous Red Hat sources as saying that "friction between Stevens and Cormier" may have played a part in Stevens' departure.