SUSE preps its own cloud launch

Establishing itself as a cloud solution

The future of the enterprise will most certainly include the cloud, and SUSE plans to remain a major player in this space.

Any thoughts that the Nürnberg-based Linux distribution vendor might be failing under the umbrella of its not-so-new owner Attachmate are pretty off the mark, if their plans for the cloud are any indication.

I had a chance to catch up with Pete Chadwick and Alan Clark at the Open Source Business Conference, and learned that the company has, far from struggling, actually just been quietly reorganizing itself post-acquisition.

As part of that reorg, the company has had to undergo some significant internal transitions in order to adjust to the new reality of their existence: unlike their one-moon-among-many-satellites role within the Novell orbit, SUSE now finds itself back in the pre-Novell role of being a completely autonomous company again.

That may not seem intuitive, but everyone I have spoken with at SUSE has been very clear about one thing: their new Attachmate owners want them to succeed and are willing to step back and let SUSE get to work.

Which meant, according to Chadwick, that SUSE would have to come up with their own cloud strategy. That's because within Novell, SUSE was specifically slotted as the operating system division; cloud was strictly the bailiwick of Novell Cloud Manager and related tools.

But now SUSE is creating their own cloud strategy, and as anyone paying attention knows, OpenStack is going to be a big part of that strategy.

SUSE has made it clear that they will be a player in the OpenStack ecosystem--they were prominent in the early declarations of OpenStack participation, and will also be platinum-level members of the upcoming OpenStack Foundation.

For SUSE, OpenStack has three distinct advantages over other cloud solutions.

"We saw a lot of size and velocity around the OpenStack community," Chadwick, senior manager, cloud solutions, explained. SUSE views open source as a strong development model, and in that context, the vibrancy and strength of a project's community is a very attractive proposition.

It didn't hurt that some of SUSE's biggest partners, such as Dell, HP, and IBM, were also committing to the OpenStack project. And then there was the compelling fact that SUSE's own customers were asking for an OpenStack-related solution.

It was that intersection point where SUSE knew it could make a strong play: one of their known strengths is integration services, using tools like SUSE Studio and the openSUSE Build Service. Indeed, SUSE Studio will be a part of their cloud solution, too: initially customers will be able to create turn-key OpenStack images with the Studio tool.

Eventually, Chadwick outlined, tighter integration between OpenStack and Studio Manager will exist, enabling customers to automate their OpenStack deployments far more easily.

For SUSE, the decision to create a cloud solution was a no-brainer.

"Cloud is the future platform of the enterprise," Chadwick declared.

With rumblings that OpenStack's solution is not fully baked yet, though, why did SUSE go with OpenStack as opposed to another cloud solution?

The current Essex release of OpenStack, the SUSE execs explained, is a huge jump in quality over Diablo.

"We felt very comfortable offering support for Essex. Plus, one area where we can make a difference is dealing with upgrading existing infrastructure with our integration tools," Chadwick added. SUSE's engineers could also perform security hardening of OpenStack's APIs.

Clark, who is director of industry initiatives and emerging standards, also emphasized that even as critics decry OpenStack as somehow "immature," the truth is that RackSpace, the commercial sponsor of the project until the OpenStack Foundation is formally launched, had been using the core of OpenStack to manage its infrastructure for quite some time.

Any of the roughness of OpenStack, then, is around the edges, as new components are added and aren't quite fully integrated. But both SUSE managers reported that they were very impressed from their colleagues' reports coming out of the recent design summit for the next version of OpenStack, Folsom, which were very enthusiastic on Folsom's progress.

And remember, integration is where SUSE has shined for quite some time. You can expect SUSE to capitalize on this skill set within their own OpenStack participation and in their delivery of cloud solutions moving forward.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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