Peter Lees’ prime responsibility is to develop awareness of SUSE products, technologies and capabilities throughout the APAC region. As a technologist with two decades of experience in open systems, IT infrastructure, and cloud computing, Lees has held senior consultant roles at NetApp and Sun Microsystems. Suse has grown faster than the worldwide Linux growth rate (22% last year), according to him. Peter Lees talks about why Suse is becoming a defacto across the IT architecture of enterprises.
A decade ago, businesses debated deploying Linux or not. The discussion has now moved to which Linux to use.
In the past, organizations majorly migrating from proprietary architecture towards open source platform for cost savings. Has the evaluation scenario changed now?
Cost savings are still a big issue. However, organizations at large have now got to a point as to - which Linux to run - as they barely look at proprietary systems. All of the real critical reasons of risk in the past have disappeared so it makes little sense for them to incur large expenses. The modern start ups built their IT platforms around cloud and Linux for fulfillment rather than choosing the proprietary platform in the dot com era. Today you can run SUSE Linux on Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace and all the public clouds. A start up on cloud based architecture can start small with cloud. On increased scale of operations, SUSE studio allows the same package to move in-house or in their internal infrastructure. They can later burst the package to the service provider in the cloud as they grow large or during peak internet usage. We can help the organizations with the entire life cycle. From SMB perspective, it gives great flexibility on per pay use or for shorter period of time. We are building that model with service providers to make it easier for organizations to manage their IT effectively and efficiently based on our proven technology.
What about the erstwhile fight of open source vendors with Microsoft? And how are you aligning with virtualization players like VMware?
Lot of people often think that Microsoft and Linux are at loggerheads. But that is history. A decade ago, the businesses contemplated on deploying Linux or not. The discussion has now moved to - which Linux to use. Microsoft too sees the advantage of being more open architecture based. In Open source concept, many smart people work outside your company and why would you leave on this opportunity. For example you can use SUSE in the active Microsoft directory. They are opening up more and we are helping them more. SUSE Linux acts as perfect guest on Hyper V for example and Windows server works well with Xen and KVM virtualization systems we use. SUSE Linux is in a great position of being the only enterprise Linux recommended for Microsoft and VMware. There is SUSE Linux enterprise server for VMware which can be deployed with any customer that buys VMware. The customer gets SUSE subscription and VMware sells support on this product. Microsoft too sells Linux and if you buy it, it would be SUSE.
When it comes to operating systems, you still compete Microsoft?
There are application based which are appropriate to the different platforms. The whole industry has moved – it is less of a dog - cat kind of situation to a more mature and cooperative situation. And finally it is the best tool for a customer's business needs. For a Windows environment , the customer might virtualize on SUSE Linux or he might run Hyper V on applications appropriate with Linux. A strong Microsoft customer can have certain applications more suitable as Linux based than Windows based. That is the reason Microsoft has the option of selling through Linux ecosystem.
What about association with vendors like SAP, Oracle, HP, Dell - to name a few in the technology space?
SAP’s development for any UNIX or Linux platform purely on SUSE. SAP HANA – the in-memory database platform is again 100% based SUSE. We have a specialized version of SUSE Linux – which is specific for SAP applications that include high availability, additional performance and integrated support model. With HANA, we have relationship with all hardware vendors including HP and Fujitsu. We do work with Oracle too. We have relationship with HP Proliant servers - Generation 8 which includes embedded SUSE technology for the initial start up system. We work with Dell especially on Open Stack project. Like SUSE Linux based on the basic Linux project, we have SUSE cloud on Open Stack project. With the open source components, we make a stable platform by adding extra bits and pieces and for these projects we work with Dell. We are in good discussion with Cisco around UCS and Open Stack.
The Attachmate Group has four business units - Novell, Suse, NetIQ and Attachmate. What is the ‘go-to-market’ for India?
In North America and Europe, there are separate business units with an entire management chain from sales and pre sales engineering to senior management just for SUSE, Novell and so on. But in APAC, we have a combined management structure as we go in operational parts then we specialize in particular areas. We still take advantage to showcase all different products and tie them together at joint events. Essentially our business is more to focus on the individual units rather than cross selling. We cater to all segments right from the small companies with one or two servers to big organizations with hundreds of server. The main offerings include SUSE Linux enterprise, server and desktop. We have POS version which is quite popular in India.
But does cross selling different solutions across portfolio makes business sense in a large complex project?
Potentially of course. We have solutions like Novell eDirectory that runs on SUSE Linux hence it makes sense to have those interactions and we do cooperate with other units. We do have many solutions from other business units that run on top of SUSE. If we talk about Novell business unit then all runs on SUSE and inherently we have opportunity there and vice versa. For Operating System, we tend to talk about other solutions at the customer site to get additional business. However, we are a vendor and not a reseller hence the main aim is to concentrate and specialize on a particular business unit.
Yogesh Gupta is associate editor for ComputerWorld India. Send your feedback to email@example.com