I have been personally fond of SuSE’s Linux operating system and the various toolsets that come with it. I always loved the fact that they were always desktop focused as well (unlike Redhat in my opinion). There are some strategic decisions that SuSE have taken over the years which made freedom activists a bit wary of them. Notably their initial pact with Microsoft. RMS even called for a boycott novel program.

However, till today SuSE have held their grounds. They are arguably number 2 Linux in the enterprise market. Their commitment to freedomware in general remains ambiguous although they have been definitely open source centric in their business model.

For last few years lot of things have changed at Novel and SuSE. First of all, Attachmate bought them over. Being principally an investment company, Attachmate let the companies run freely under three brand names: NetIQ, Novel and SuSE. The whole portfolio again then got sold to MicroFocus recently and that is when things became very very interesting.

So who are MicroFocus? They are most known for their mfcobol product which is mainly used by companies migratin out of mainframe z/os to Linux. mfcobol gives a fairly capable runtime for older cobol programs written for z/os to run on Linux. SuSE on the other hand always had a great story around mainframe migrations. They are the most popular choice in the mainframe migration market with largest share of this niche business. Redhat competes in the space but then again the same mfcobol is proposed to onboard mainframe applications. So when MicroFocus being the number 1 cobol runtime for z/os to Linux migrations, have acquired the number 1 operating system of choice for migrating out of IBM mainframes – the choice for mainframe migration projects is quite clear. And that in itself is a huge growing market with the biggest cash making companies as the clientele.

The other big things happening at SuSE recently are the growth of the company in new areas like openstack cloud and ceph storage. So Redhat offcourse is the most frequent top contributor to both openstack and ceph. In case of ceph it even acquired the main company behind ceph called InkTank. However even then, Redhat’s storage strategy looks quite confused. They have gluster, swift and ceph as choices. And customers do get confused with that even though Redhat makes all efforts to make a meaningful differentiation.

SuSE Storage on the other hand is an integral part of their cloud strategy. SuSE is not shy to propose their storage solution as independent competitor to tier 3 and even tier 2 storage solutions. The Openstack solution has the best HA architecture among all openstack options ( they have been awarded numerous times for this ). The openstack in SuSE’s case is implemented through infrastructure as code (crowbar, chef, barclamps). Redhat on the other hand, lacks in these very areas.

Microfocus then went on to acquire Serena – a leading provider of release automation toolchains with a strong focus area in mainframes. Another great addition complementing their mainframe story. But apart from mainframes, in general devops space also (closely related to cloud), serena toolkit integration with SuSE cloud can prove to be a good solution.

I was always wary of HPE. They seemed to take all good acquisition decisions and somehow not make enough business out of it any further. They seemed to strike right cords in strategy but fail miserably in marketing and sales for new on the edge things. HPE has now been acquired by MicroFocus. Another brilliant acquisition that completes SuSE’s cloud story.

HPE Helion and SuSE cloud are similar offerings. They will be merged. My hunch is SuSE cloud will prevail but with new additions of Helion’s networking  and telco focus solutions. But I am more excited about Stackato.

Stackato was a PaaS solution from ActiveState ( Company behind ActivePerl, Comodo IDE ). The solution has great uniqueness. Other that stackato’s case if you look at the PaaS market you will see majorly two camps: CloudFoundry and Docker. Redhat have gone with Docker – Kubernetes stack. Pivotal and Ubuntu are focusing on cloudfoundry. SuSE was also trying to align itself into cloudfoundry domain. Stackato on the other hand was a solution of ActiveState that offered docker based cloudfoundry (the actual cloudfoundry used warden/garden instead of docker).

While Redhat was boasting of Openshift in the PaaS space, SuSE had little to show off. But now with HPE Stackato, hey have a real challenger. Personally, Stackato is my favourite container based PaaS solution.

For long, Redhat’s cloud story had one more major differentiator – cloudforms cloud management platform. Now SuSE has an answer – a better one at that – HPE CSA. CSA is a much more proven and better cloud management platform (although not open source).

So I think SuSE is clearly having lot of good things going for them.

Redhat offcourse is still number 1. But this time SuSE is challenging them from every corner with mighty force of MicroFocus.


The views expressed herein are my personal views and not necessarily of any other person or organization anyway associated with me