SUSE ups its IaaS, PaaS game

SUSE acquires OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets of HPE and joins Cloud Foundry as a Platinum member.

SUSE, the oldest Linux company has just upped the PaaS and IaaS game with the acquisition of HPE’s OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets and talent. Michael Miller, President of Strategy, Alliances and Marketing at SUSE, told me in an interview that this acquisition involves assets from both the Helion OpenStack product and the Helion Stackato product.

Talent? What talent?

One of the highlights of this announcement was that SUSE will also be acquiring engineering talent from HPE. But we all know that HPE laid off many OpenStack engineers, so what kind of ‘talent’ will SUSE be acquiring through this acquisition?  Miller told me that “a significant number of HPE engineers with experience in OpenStack IaaS, Cloud Foundry PaaS, containers and Kubernetes will join SUSE after the close of the transaction.”

Another important point to be kept in mind is that there is a dearth of OpenStack talent in the market, so all the engineers that were laid off by HPE have either already been hired by someone, or SUSE may soon be their new home.

SUSE is not keeping its eggs in one basket

SUSE, just like Red Hat, is expanding beyond the Linux distribution business. While SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) remains the backbone of the company, it’s experiencing tremendous growth around cloud-related technologies, notably OpenStack and software-defined storage.

I sat down with Nils Brauckmann, CEO of SUSE, at SUSECon 2016, where he told me that OpenStack is an important piece in the fabric of infrastructure and SUSE is heavily invested in it. “SUSE approaches OpenStack with the exact same principle that we approach Linux and other products: enterprise reliability, enterprise quality, and being in there in the long run.”

That’s when he hinted at more technology acquisitions around these technologies and stated, “We will do technology acquisitions to strengthen our portfolio and unpin our move into these adjacent markets.”

I predicted correctly that we can expect more technology acquisitions or new partnerships from SUSE in OpenStack, networking, application platform services, containers, orchestration.... Everything is game for SUSE.

But SUSE is not new to the OpenStack game. SUSE already has a very strong OpenStack product portfolio through SUSE OpenStack Cloud. And they are not just doing yet another OpenStack distribution, they are also bringing innovation to it. With the release of SUSE OpenStack Cloud 6, SUSE introduced the much needed non-disruptive upgrade capabilities for future OpenStack releases.

“If enterprise customers want to move to a new version of OpenStack they don’t have to replace and rebuild; they can now do a normal upgrade from an older version of OpenStack cloud to a newer version,” Brauckmann told me in an interview. “What it means is that they can easily move with OpenStack innovation.”

The acquisition of HPE’s OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets will only strengthen SUSE’s position in the IaaS and PaaS world.

Building bridges between PaaS and IaaS

OpenStack and Cloud Foundry are often seen as competing technologies that overlap each other. But the fact is they solve different problems. If Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP create the LAMP stack that changed the web, then Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, Docker, Kubernetes can be seen as a stack that’s redefining cloud. They complement each other.

SUSE knows it quite well and that is why they are betting on both.

“We see PaaS as a strategic component of our software defined infrastructure and application platform strategy, and Cloud Foundry as the PaaS open source project and technology that brings together the best innovation and industry collaboration,” said Miller. “We want to leverage that innovation for the benefit of our customers and we have a vision for the convergence of CaaS technologies like Docker and Kubernetes, and PaaS technologies like Cloud Foundry that we think will address the real-world needs of our customers and partners. We will now work with the Cloud Foundry community to develop that vision.”

Betting big on Cloud Foundry

At SUSECon, Brauckmann told me about SUSE’s increasing interest in Cloud Foundry, “We are definitely looking more into doing something around Cloud Foundry. We are now looking to play a bigger role in the platform as a service in Cloud Foundry market. That's probably the next step where you see us being more active in the future,” he said.

That’s exactly what SUSE has done. Not only they are acquiring Cloud Foundry assets from HPE, they are also upgrading their Cloud Foundry Foundation membership to platinum level. SUSE initially joined Cloud Foundry Foundation as a silver level member in 2015.

Being a platinum member of Cloud Foundry Foundation, SUSE also gets a seat on the foundation’s board of directors. SUSE CTO Thomas Di Giacomo will also be serving on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“As an early pioneer in open source, their customers are some of the largest, most complex companies in the world. We look forward to supporting their efforts as they expand their footprint with Cloud Foundry,” said Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation.

To build a bridge between OpenStack and Cloud Foundry, SUSE is working on a couple of things, “There are several things we are working on now (such as the CPI work in conjunction with SAP and the OpenStack Validator work) and we'll look for others as we continue to develop our IaaS, CaaS and PaaS solutions (such as shared Kubernetes managed containers),” said Miller.

SUSE is back

This is the second technology acquisition by SUSE in within the past month. During SUSECon, in November 2016, SUSE announced the acquisition of OpenATTIC, a software-defined storage technology. These acquisitions prove that SUSE is finally getting aggressive. They now have the financial backing from MicroFocus that they needed in order to spread their wings and take off.

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