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Ovum attended SUSECon in Amsterdam in early November. SUSE is making good progress, but it needs to improve its marketing to get the mindshare and market share boost it needs.

SUSE is growing, well-funded, but needs more clarity in its messaging

We were left with four key impressions following SUSECon.

First, SUSE did lose some ground following the 2011 acquisition of Novell by Attachmate, but it is now back in business. In 2010 it was an unprofitable $145m business. According to Ovum estimates, the 23-year-old company is now nearly double that size, with billings up 25% in fiscal 2015 ended April, and says it profitable (without providing any details).

Second, Micro Focus, which acquired Attachmate in November 2014, is not only leaving SUSE to operate as an independent entity/brand, but is also willing to invest in SUSE to help build its momentum. Its operational budget grew by more than 36% in fiscal 2015, and SUSE expects staffing to be 26% up year-on-year at the end of fiscal year 2016.

Third, the focus for growth is on SUSE’s OpenStack distribution and Enterprise Storage solution. The company announced the release of Ceph-based SUSE Enterprise Storage 2 at SuseCon, and the beta release of the sixth version of its OpenStack distribution one week earlier at the Tokyo OpenStack Summit. In parallel, it continues to grow its Enterprise Linux and Embedded Systems business.

Fourth, the company needs to be more vocal and clearer about its nature, differentiators, and ambitions. At the moment it generates revenue from both the enterprise market and via partners embedding its technology. It needs to develop its embedded business further. Its marketing is also too generic, especially when it comes to OpenStack and Docker. The same applies to its efforts in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) area. At SuseCon, it announced that it had joined the Cloud Foundry foundation and that it would collaborate with long-term partner SAP (like SAP, SUSE originates from Germany) on optimizing CloudFoundry’s BOSH deployment and lifecycle management tool, which supports multiple infrastructures such as AWS and VMware, for OpenStack. SUSE needs to more clearly connect to its OpenStack, Docker, and Cloud Foundry efforts, as well as add explicit support for DevOps. In this area, it could leverage some of Micro Focus’s capabilities.


Further reading

The Linux Foundation plays a growing role in the success of open source, IT0022-000478 (August 2015)

Cloud Native Computing Foundation brings together open source projects to help Linux containers, IT0022-000477 (August 2015)

Cloudify 3.0: An OpenStack-centric Rebirth, IT0022-000286 (January 2015)


Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions

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