The new SUSE

SUSE will soon be the largest independent Linux company.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

In Nashville, Tenn., at SUSECon, European Linux power SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann said his company would soon be the largest independent Linux company. That's because, of course, IBM is acquiring Red Hat. But, simultaneously, SUSE has continued to grow for seven-straight years.

Brauckmann said, "We believe that makes our status as a truly independent open source company more important than ever. Our genuinely open-source solutions, flexible business practices, lack of enforced vendor lock-in, and exceptional service are more critical to customer and partner organizations, and our independence coincides with our single-minded focus on delivering what is best for them."

SUSE had belonged to Micro Focus. With the SUSE's purchase by Swedish-based private equity firm EQT, it's been set loose to follow its own destiny. EQT only command: Grow.

Practically speaking, SUSE has been growing by focusing on delivering high-quality Linux and open-source programs and services to enterprise customers. Looking ahead Brauckmann said, "SUSE is better positioned to bring more innovation to customers and partners faster through both organic growth and acquisitions, keeping us on track to provide them with the open solutions that keep them ahead with their own customers in their own markets. We continue to adapt so our customers and partners can succeed."

Brauckmann isn't the only one seeing this. Jay Lyman, 451 Research principal analyst, said, "SUSE's independence should allow the company to maintain its strength in the operating system market (where its Linux is a leading option) while also investing dynamically in additional, emerging markets such as cloud native and DevOps. While SUSE benefited from the investments made by its previous parent companies, it is now better positioned to move beyond past successes and markets to capitalize on new opportunities."

The numbers agree with his assessment. Last year SUSE's revenue grew by 15 percent in fiscal year 2018, and the business is about to surpass the $400 million revenue mark for the first time. SUSE, which sees not quite half of its business in Europe, is also seeing revenue growth around the world. North America, for example, now accounts for almost 40 percent of SUSE's revenues.

The company is also expanding. SUSE added more than 300 employees in the last 12 months. For the most part this has been in engineering followed by sales and services. SUSE staff is now approaching 1,750 globally and its plans on continuing to hire aggressively.

Surprisingly, IBM's acquisition of Red Hat hasn't hurt SUSE's IBM business. SUSE is one of IBM mainframe's primary Linux partner. While Brauckmann can't be sure what tomorrow will bring. For now, "IBM has retained  all of their production activities with us the same level, some have even increased. It's really business as usual for us."

Photos: From the first PCs to the ThinkPad – classic IBM machines

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