Given the fact that Attachmate recently purchased Novell, SUSE’s future seemed a bit unclear, but at BrainShare 2011, the Attachmate/Novell annual user conference, SUSE pronounced itself ready for whatever comes its way.

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After purchasing Novell, Attachmate divided the Novell departments into four distinct brands within the company: Attachmate, NetIQ, Novell and SUSEThese four companies have been pulled off the public market, making the primary goal customer, rather than shareholder, satisfaction according to Attachmate CEO Bob Flynn.

Over the past few years, rumors of a potential Novell sale have done a lot of harm to SUSE. As a private company, customers can be assured that their SUSE Linux investment will not be threatened in the upcoming years. A possible takeover creates a lot of uncertainty because there’s no guarantee that there will be product and strategy continuity.

SUSE can now use several approaches to continue working on its products and ready itself to increase market share. First and foremost, there is the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) development, currently at version 11 service pack (SP1). SP2 is scheduled for release in Q1 2012, and includes important enhancements such as the Btrfs file system, which lets customers scale storage on Linux from a new interface.

SUSE hopes to use this file system to offer better performance over Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and the Ext4 file system. The next big step forward will be SLES 12, which is expected to be released near the end of 2012 (no official release date has been announced yet).

Apart from new versions of their core server software, SUSE offers some interesting additions as well. These include the SUSE Linux High Availability Extension (HA Clustering) and SUSE Manager, a Web console that can be used for centralized management.

SUSE is using support offerings to gain market share, as SUSE Enterprise Linux is cheaper than Red Hat’s offering. SUSE even offers cheap support on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The most important message expressed at BrainShare was not the new SUSE version or cheap support offerings, but that they are broadening the offer. Until now, the Linux market has been increasing because of companies that moved over from their expensive UNIX systems. At some point, though, that is going to stop and the only thing a company can do at that point is to broaden the offering for their current customers. This is exactly that is what's happening now, proven by the release of new products and additional tools. And the fact that SUSE now has its own brand instead of a Novell company will only strengthen the message.

About the expert
Sander van Vugt is an independent trainer and consultant living in the Netherlands. Van Vugt is an expert in Linux high availability, virtualization and performance and has completed several projects that implement all three. He is also the writer of various Linux-related books, such as Beginning the Linux Command Line, Beginning Ubuntu Server Administration and Pro Ubuntu Server Administration.

This was first published in November 2011

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