'We Don't Get the Credit We Deserve'

by Sean Kerner

SUSE exec explains how the company has changed since being spun out from Novell.

VANCOUVER. 2011 has been a big year for SUSE Linux. Novell, which had been the parent of SUSE, was acquired by Attachmate $2.2 billion dollar deal, and SUSE was spun out as a separate business unit.

One of the key leaders of SUSE is former Novell executive Allen Clark, who currently serves as the Board Chair for the openSUSE Project. In Clark's view, the split from Novell has been a very positive thing for SUSE.

"We call it SUSE Unleashed," Clark told InternetNews.com. "The new leadership is very positive and focused, and they want to see this business grow."

Clark noted that SUSE is committed to continuity, and it doesn't want to disrupt the existing business and its customers. That said, he added that SUSE has a sharper focus than Novell had, as SUSE is all about Linux. He further noted that SUSE is able to align engineering, sales and marketing resources for a common purpose.

According to Clark, Attachmate didn't buy Novell just to 'milk' the SUSE business, it bought it with the intention of aggressively growing the business. To that end, at the LinuxCon event, SUSE hung out a 'we're hiring' sign. Clark said SUSE is hiring approximately 20 people to help staff various parts of the business.

The SUSE hiring comes in contrast with the event following Attachmate's purchase of Novell. Attachmate laid off an undisclosed number of Novell employees, including the entire Mono development team. SUSE has seen entered into a partnership with Mono startup Xamarin to provide support services for SUSE's Mono customers. Mono is an open source implementation of Microsoft's .net framework.

With the Attachmate acquisition also came a change in location. The fact that SUSE's head office is in Nuremberg, Germany as opposed to the United States is not an issue for Clark. Under Novell, SUSE was run out of the United States. Clark said that both Novell and SUSE have always been geographically diverse, and he's not seeing any big barriers.

SUSE has also recently extended its deal with Microsoft to the tune of an additional $100 million. As part of the deal, Microsoft resells SUSE Linux and works with SUSE on interoperability issues. Microsoft also provides SUSE with a patent covenant that it promises not to sue SUSE users over any alleged infringement of Microsoft's intellectual property that might be in open source software.

"Most environments are not homogenous; they are heterogeneous, and so there is good opportunity there," Clark said. "If I'm a CIO and I know I'm going to have Linux and Windows workloads, I will look for those that work with both vendors to help speed opportunity."

While Clark is very positive on the SUSE business and its prospects, he admitted that the business still faces challenges. The biggest one in his view is that of perception.

"The biggest challenge is getting people to recognize what SUSE has already done," Clark said. "We just don't seem to get the credit we deserve."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Friday Aug 19th 2011
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