Michael Miller on stage, kicking off Demopalooza at SUSECON
Michael kicking off Demopalooza at SUSECON

This week in Prague, the SUSE community is learning how to use open software-defined infrastructure and application platforms to reduce costs and complexity, and quickly leverage the latest innovations. We had a chance to catch up with SUSE’s Michael Miller, President of Strategy, Alliances and Marketing, to talk about their approach to the cloud and announcements from SUSECON.

Q: This year’s SUSECON theme is “There’s more to ‘open’ than just the code” – what does that mean to you and how SUSE engages with open source communities?

We think of SUSE as the “open, open source” company. We obviously use open source technology to create and deliver our products and then we provide services and support for that, but we also deliver our open source business model in a uniquely open way. That means working with other types of technologies from other vendors—other open source vendors or other proprietary vendors—because that’s the IT reality. One great example mentioned during Microsoft’s keynote at SUSECON is Tate & Lyle, a 150 year-old ingredient manufacturing company, that runs BW on SAP HANA on Azure Large Instances using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications.

In order to really help our SUSE community succeed, you need to make sure that they have that choice to build what’s best for them. At an event like SUSECON this openness is tangible — when you look at the range of sponsors and partners who are there, and the number of hands-on, technical workshops with mixed IT scenarios.

Q: What has the shift from on-premises to the cloud and hybrid scenarios looked like for SUSE customers?

For a company that was historically a Linux vendor, it’s created all kinds of great opportunities. When I joined the company six years ago, we were obviously and clearly squarely focused on the enterprise and Linux space, and over the course of the last five or six years, we’ve really evolved our business to become a provider of enterprise-grade, open source, software-defined infrastructure, and application-delivery solutions.

That’s directly in response to this movement towards a digital economy and digital transformation, embracing hybrid, cloud, and other new technologies. We’ve added all kinds of infrastructure and service offerings, storage offerings, containers, and more. As we’ve broadened our portfolio in response to this market evolution, it’s also created a lot of opportunities for us to do more and more interesting things with our partners, including Microsoft, especially in the area of hybrid cloud. For example, key SUSE offerings are now available for customers to run on Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack. This gives customers the flexibility to use SUSE technology on the infrastructure of their choice, whether that be on private, public, or non-cloud resources. It’s a valuable capability, and one that we believe in.

The industry has talked about hybrid computing for years now; it’s been sort of the holy grail everybody’s talked about. I mean, I can remember five years ago, talking about hybrid computing and whenever somebody tried to drill down on exactly what is available to use and make that a reality, it was always a struggle. But today, with things like Azure Stack and Azure, it’s a reality; there are tangible technologies that are ready to use that cut through the hype and the buzz and make it possible.

Q: Could you talk a more about containers and microservice architectures—specifically, what is SUSE’s vision or roadmap in those areas?

We envision containerization as a natural evolution of data center virtualization, taken to the next level in that it provides software-defined flexibility while improving resource utilization on the ops side. But in addition, containers deliver a complete operating environment, not just a server, and that drives incredible code portability advantages that greatly enhance the whole application delivery and lifecycle management process. So while there is a natural progression from a virtualization standpoint, containers give enterprise IT teams a higher level, application-oriented abstraction to work with as their fundamental technology package, and that’s a significant change. It’s making IT more agile and responsive, and that’s the reason that people are embracing containers today.

At SUSE, when we look at what customers need to be truly successful with containers, we see that they’ll need a few things. First and foremost, containers are constructs that come from the Linux operating system, and since we are leaders in the operating system business, we want to give customers the very best container OS, leveraging the years of experience and proven technology base we’ve put together with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Second, customers need a container orchestration platform that can help them effectively manage container-based applications and services at scale. We believe that platform should be Kubernetes. And we also believe that enterprises will realize great productivity gains by using a modern application platform that takes care of much of the work involved in managing the container lifecycle. The industry’s leading platform in that area is Cloud Foundry. We are delivering all of these open source technologies to our customers, as part of a portfolio of application delivery solutions that build on each other. SUSE CaaS Platform is our Kubernetes offering, and includes our purpose-built container OS, MicroOS. SUSE Cloud Application Platform, which we are previewing here at SUSECON this week, includes SUSE Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes, which comes from SUSE CaaS Platform. So it all ties together in a way that gives our customers the options they want and the technology they need.

We are embracing containerization in other ways too. As an example, you can look at the way we will deliver our Cloud Application Platform, bringing together Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes. We have containerized our implementation of Cloud Foundry, which can be deployed and managed by Kubernetes. In this containerized form, SUSE Cloud Foundry also consumes a fraction of the memory footprint of other Cloud Foundry distributions and is faster to recover and scale.

And of course, as always, we are committed to ensuring that we satisfy customers’ requirements for enterprise ready open source technology. We are rapidly advancing SUSE CaaS Platform, announcing the latest release of that offering here at SUSECON, expanding the set of supported features and platforms to meet enterprise needs. And SUSE Cloud Application Platform will be the first and only Cloud Foundry distribution delivered on proven, enterprise-grade Linux.

For us, it’s not just about new features of the OS or our application delivery platform, it’s not just something application developers do, it’s something that DevOps teams and IT professionals need as they embrace their digital transformation projects and goals. They need a solution that is enterprise-grade, is secure, provides mature and robust management capabilities, and brings all of this together for them.

Q: What other areas of Linux innovation are top-of-mind for SUSE customers?

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep learning are very high interest to us and our customers right now. It’s another area where Linux is a central component of the innovation – there are some great projects and technologies out there, like TensorFlow, that are enabling supercomputing and artificial intelligence for the enterprise. AI is here, now. It’s not just super-secret giant labs run by the government that can do this stuff, it’s our customers, companies out there competing and doing business, that can use incredibly powerful technology that leverages artificial intelligence concepts to drive business. It’s not just an esoteric technology.

Follow Michael Miller @michaelwmiller and SUSE @SUSE.

To learn more about SUSE-Microsoft solutions, check out the SUSE site here.

Questions? Let us know in the comments.