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SUSE Exits OpenStack Cloud Market

In a surprise move, the Linux vendor decides that its resources are better deployed in other areas of its business than the open-source OpenStack cloud platform.

When the open-source OpenStack cloud platform came into being in 2010, Linux vendors were among the first to bring productized offerings to market. One of those vendors was SUSE, which entered the OpenStack market in 2012, but after seven years that journey is coming to an end.

In an unexpected move, SUSE announced on Oct. 9 that it is exiting the OpenStack market. 

Not only does SUSE have its own OpenStack cloud offering — which includes technology elements the company acquired from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) in a 2017 transaction — but its executives have held key leadership roles within the OpenStack Foundation itself. In fact, SUSE's Alan Clark has served as the chairman of the board for the OpenStack Foundation since 2012.

"Alan Clark will work with the Foundation to facilitate the best transition plan that will provide all the members the opportunity to serve," Michael Miller, president of Corporate Development and Strategic Alliances for SUSE, told ITPro Today.

SUSE had been actively working on OpenStack for much of 2019. As recently as April, SUSE was highlighting the strength of its OpenStack platform, with the company's OpenStack Cloud 9.0 platform release. During a keynote address at the SUSECON 2019 conference in Nashville, Tenn., in April, Thomas Di Giacomo, president of engineering, product and innovation at SUSE, called OpenStack Cloud 9.0 a major release, bringing together elements of the HPE and SUSE OpenStack codebases.

Miller noted that SUSE will continue to work closely with the OpenStack Foundation as it adjusts the nature of its engagement in the project to align with the company's go-forward plans. SUSE engineers will continue to be involved in upstream OpenStack development as the company focuses on supporting customers, he said.

The OpenStack Foundation is home to more than just the OpenStack cloud platforms — other efforts include the Starling Edge computing platform, Kata containers and Zuul continuous integration development efforts. Miller said SUSE will continue to evaluate and engage, where appropriate, in specific OpenStack Foundation projects besides OpenStack when they align with its customers’ and partners’ needs.

SUSE has been going through a series of transitions in 2019. In March, private equity firm EQT acquired SUSE for $2.5 billion, and in July the company announced a new CEO: Melissa Di Donato.

All affected customers have been informed of SUSE's OpenStack exit, according to Miller. However, its impact on SUSE's customer base isn't expected be significant.

"We are working closely with [SUSE’s customers] to support them through their remaining subscription period and as they transition to alternatives," he said. "A small, single-digit percentage of our overall customer base will be impacted."

The OpenStack Market

SUSE's exit from the OpenStack market comes as the open-source effort is gearing up for its next major release, dubbed "Train." It also comes as other vendors continue to see opportunity in the open-source cloud platform.

Among the vendors seeking to capitalize on SUSE's exit is Mirantis. Boris Renski, co-founder of Mirantis, told ITPro Today that his company remains committed to OpenStack and is happy to support and help transition any customers that find themselves a victim of market consolidation.

"To be able to deliver OpenStack to customers one must have some minimum scale," Renski said. "So OpenStack today is healthy enough to support a couple of players that have reached sufficient scale, and what we are observing is that companies that haven't are forced to exit the space."

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