An interview with SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann

SUSE, A Company on the Move

SUSE Is Hiring

In addition to making technology acquisitions, SUSE has increased its workforce and added more than 300 new people to the company. When Brauckmann brings new people to SUSE, he maintains a great balance between salespeople and engineers.

"As a rule of thumb, at least half of these jobs go to engineers as we are an engineering-heavy company. This time it was more than half, because we acquired engineering talent from HPE," said Brauckmann. "We need a balance because as we grow our engineering teams to create more products, we also gain more customers. More customers mean more sales and service calls, so we have to invest into sales, services, and support, as well. We have to invest in all those pillars that SUSE stands on."

Product, Project, and Community

On the product side, by being a company on the move, it means that SUSE continues to expand its product portfolio to keep up with the changing market dynamics. SUSE is growing beyond being a Linux vendor, even though enterprise Linux remains the company's core competency.

"We are leveraging our Linux and open source experience and Linux technology platform to move into the software-defined infrastructure space," he said.

"All these new innovations are happening on top of open source technologies, including Linux, because the technology is freely available, and we can build on top of it. That's the beauty of open source," said Brauckmann. "So, we are moving with it, from Linux to software-defined infrastructure to application delivery platforms."

"While we do all of that, we grow as a team, we grow our product portfolio, and we end up supporting new community projects. We are deeply engaged with major open source projects. Our CTO, Dr. Thomas Di Giacomo, sits on [the] Cloud Foundry Foundation board; we are a platinum sponsor of Cloud Foundry. Alan Clark, one of the SUSE directors, is the elected Chairman of the OpenStack Foundation; we sit on the Cloud Native Computing Foundation; we are at Open NFV and many other projects," said Brauckmann.

SUSE has the traditional SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) product line, Just Enough Operating System (JeOS) for embedded devices, a software-defined storage platform, the OpenStack distribution, a Cloud Foundry-based Cloud Application Platform, and a Kubernetes and Linux-based Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) Platform. With the upcoming release of SLE 15, customers will be able to switch easily between free-of-charge openSUSE LEAP and SLE 15. In a nutshell, SUSE has its stakes in the entire stack.

Evolution of the Stack

As the IT landscape changes, more and more modern workloads are becoming containerized. SUSE already has the SUSE CaaS Platform, so they are well equipped to handle legacy and modern workloads.

When asked whether SUSE sees legacy applications as past and containers as future, Brauckmann said that it's not black and white: "Traditional workload and containerized workload is not past and future; there is a lot in the middle. You also need a bridge between legacy and containerized workloads. While companies move their workloads to [a] containerized environment, they continue to run legacy applications. Realistically both worlds will continue to coexist."

SUSE is maintaining a fine balance between these three worlds: legacy workloads, modernized workloads, and whatever there is in between.

"SLE is the fully featured, mission-critical enterprise solution. That business is growing by itself. There is a lot of workload, including legacy workload, that is not containerized. There is a lot of workload that is not cloud native; it continues to run on an operating system in a virtualized environment. We do see that, in the future, more workloads will run on containers, so we do see growth in that area. There are ISVs [independent software vendors] that are refactoring their legacy applications to containerize them, so they can run and manage these legacy applications as containers. We are talking to these ISVs, so these containerized applications will run on platforms like the SUSE CaaS Platform," said Brauckmann. "The way we see it is that you innovate and renovate your IT infrastructure and application layer."

He gave the example of SUSE Cloud Application Platform, which is based on Cloud Foundry and uses Kubernetes. SUSE has containerized the Cloud Foundry platform to make it easier for customers to deploy and manage.

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