A Steady Hand
Today bears news of yet another tech acquisition. This time, it is another open source player buying a configuration management technology company. Normally, this would not prompt me to write anything, but this acquisition is exposing a distinct difference that is worth pointing out.
For many years, SUSE has been known as an engineering company, in fact, it’s in the name (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SUSE). This is exposed in the way that SUSE carefully analyzes and decides on how to adopt technology. It’s not about what is the current buzzword or technology in the industry, but rather what is a the right choice from a perspective of scalability, reliability and the ability to maintain and participate in the upstream community.
This behavior is exposed in many of the choices SUSE made early and then watched others jump on the bandwagon. Some of these include:
- Supporting XFS for many years while others jumped from filesystem to filesystem before realizing XFS is the best filesystem for enterprise data
- Getting involved with btrfs early and working to stabilize and make it supportable as a root filesystem for the enterprise
- x86_64, where SUSE was heavily involved in making the port
- Linux on IBM Mainframe, which is where SUSE Linux Enterprise was born
- OpenStack, SUSE had the first commercial distribution and is still pursuing the same path of ensuring the Enterprise’s ability to consume OpenStack
- Linux containers were introduced well in advance of other distributions, but they have all seen the light now
- SAP and SAP HANA, SUSE has been there for years and others are just now joining the party
SUSE also has a history of not abandoning customers after convincing them of a direction. A prime example would be Xen. When SUSE introduced KVM, the Xen based customers weren’t told to convert or go fly a kite in a thunderstorm, SUSE told them that they were covered. In fact, SUSE committed to cover them for another 13 years under SLES 12. This is the stability that SUSE customers have come to know and appreciate.
You can see this in other technologies as well, take a look at how long SUSE supported ReiserFS after it was basically abandoned, Itanium after the industry wasn’t selling it anymore, etc. These are all cases where doing the right thing meant continuing to ensure customers could rely on the technology investments they had already made.
I am sure some are asking, “What is SUSE doing in configuration management?” The answer is easy. SUSE is integrating SaltStack technology into SUSE Manager with the next version. You can hear more about that decision here, where Joe Werner and Meike Chabowski discuss SUSE Manager 3. The key message is that SUSE evaluated this decision with the same care and attention to detail that has always been done, and thus, customers and partners will benefit.
It should also be clear that SUSE is not abandoning other configuration management choices either. In the Advanced Systems Management Module for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, customers and partners have access to CFengine and Puppet as well. This provides the ability to continue working with your existing configuration management infrastructure of choice.
With SUSE, it’s all about a proper decision and a steady hand to guide recommendations for customers and partners. With some of the others in the business, it seems to be more about bright shiny objects and jumping between them on the whim of profit maximization. The question you may want to ask before making your next Linux OS or open source decision is “Do you bet on the sure and steady hand of SUSE or on the short attention span of someone else?”