Monday, 23 May 2011

What Nils Brauckmann didn't say, for SUSE to grow openSUSE must shrink

In a recent press announcement (see here) the new President and General Manager of SUSE, Nils Brauckmann stated,

"By operating SUSE as a separate business unit focused on the Linux marketplace, we can accelerate our delivery of high-value Linux solutions that help organizations enhance growth, reduce costs, tame complexity and spur innovation,"

and

"Now we are sharpening our focus on making SUSE Linux Enterprise the preeminent Linux distribution across physical, virtual and cloud environments."

Makes sense, but keep reading.

"I am thrilled to lead this business and team in our pursuit of providing comprehensive Linux solutions that solve real problems for IT and the line of business. With a laser focus on making SUSE successful, we are committed to the products and services that our customers and partners rely on to run their businesses.

Moreover, we recognize and celebrate the value of the openSUSE Project and will remain a strong supporter of the openSUSE community," said Brauckmann.

"We reiterate our long-term commitment to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem. Our presence in these communities will help our customers benefit from the rich value of Linux, while encouraging the collaboration that has made Linux the foundation of so many computing environments today."

I have broken the last statement into 3 paragraphs to make things easier to understand.

The action taken by Attachmate so far implies they want to make SUSE a strong and successful competitor, splitting it from Novell, dropping Mono, as Nils stated they want to sharpen their focus on SUSE.

But how can SUSE be successful or maximize its revenue when its strongest competing product is openSUSE?

openSUSE is more than a community project, it is a strong and free alternative to SUSE Enterprise and for that reason those who are interpreting the last statement (I have broken into three) as saying SUSE will continue to support the openSUSE project with the same commitment as Novell could be in for a shock.

A strong supporter but not strong contributor??

Even bearing in mind the last paragraph,

"We reiterate our long-term commitment to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem. Our presence in these communities will help our customers benefit from the rich value of Linux, while encouraging the collaboration that has made Linux the foundation of so many computing environments today."

This does not necessarily mean or imply openSUSE, submitting code or patches related to SUSE products upstream is capable of achieving Nils community commitment. In fact when Nils was referring to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem, you would be foolish to think that he was referring to openSUSE.

Looking back at Novell/SUSE and their commitment to the openSUSE project, it was a bad business mistake. They effectively provided potential customers with a free alternative. How stupid is that.

They should have adopted a similar approach to RedHat / Fedora. Fedora as a product is not even capable of competing with RedHat's commercial offerings. Not only was this a wise business decision but an intelligent one.

If Nils really is committed to making SUSE a success, openSUSE must be crippled or changed into a non competing product.

Despite Novell's poor attempts to play down openSUSE many continue to deploy openSUSE in a business/corporate environment.

Even openSUSE Ambassador Carl Fletcher, who is also a Novell Knowledge Partner and has written articles for Linux Format Magazine is of the view that

"If it works with SLED, You can expect openSUSE to work reasonably well if not perfectly."

http://forums.opensuse.org/english/other-forums/community-fun/general-chit-chat/458515-suse-linux-enterprise-desktop-opensuse.html#post2327839

It is common knowledge within the Linux community and IT Professionals that openSUSE is a more than capable product, therefore if Nils wants the SUSE business to grow and succeed, he has to shrink openSUSE.

In its current state openSUSE is too close to SUSE Enterprise and as a result bad for revenue.