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SUSE Linux top exec: Interoperability is key

In an exclusive interview, SUSE president and GM Nils Brauckmann talks about strategic partnerships, building clouds, and whether the economic downturn presents an opportunity for open source

By , Network World
October 13, 2011 09:49 AM ET

Network World - Since April, Nils Brauckmann has had the future of enterprise Linux in his hands. That's when the Attachmate Group completed its acquisition of Novell and split the company into two operating units: Novell and SUSE. As president and GM of SUSE, long-time Attachmate executive Brauckmann is responsible for bringing Suse Linux Enterprise Server and other open source products to market. In this latest installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Brauckmann shared with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant his views on the future of open source, his strategy for competing against Red Hat, and SUSE's plans for helping customers build private and hybrid clouds. He also outlined his philosophy for working successfully with the open source community, talked about the role desktop Linux will and won't play in the enterprise, and explained where SUSE's partnership will Microsoft is headed.

You were with Attachmate for years. For our readers who are passionate about Linux and open source, talk about why you are the right person to lead SUSE into the future, and share your personal philosophy about open source and Linux in the enterprise.

I've been leading the SUSE business unit since May, and I have a history in the company for managing sales and marketing teams and being a general manager. What I bring to the table is a sales and marketing background and a strong general business background. I have been responsible for leading smaller development teams in Europe in the past as well as serving on support teams. Overall, I have a rounded background, and that's why we think I am the right choice. We need more focus on sales and marketing, and we need more focus on communication.

I understand and see the values of open source, and we know that customers expect better total cost of ownership. They like open source Linux because it is easy to customize to unique hardware and software requirements. Customers expect a richer choice, freedom of choice. I think they see open source not only as a means to reduce total costs of ownership, but also to achieve greater levels of vendor independence. There are a lot of enterprises out there these days that try to avoid, as much as they can, being locked in with just one vendor, and engaging with open source solution is one means to achieve that. SUSE Linux Enterprise is the solution that is best designed for mixed IT environments. We pride ourselves on having the most interoperable Linux operating system in the industry. We support all of the major virtualization infrastructures -- Hyper-V, VMWare, Xen. We are very interoperable not just on the technology level, but also with regards to the alliances and partnerships that we have. We are the only Linux operating system that is endorsed by VMWare, by Microsoft, and by SAP, for example, at the same time.

Why is SUSE a good fit for Attachmate and what is the direction for SUSE under Attachmate?

The direction is to grow it and grow it profitably. The Attachmate group has invested in powerful brands, established brands, and we want to take more solutions, more products to our large existing customer base. We share as a common purpose [to deliver] high quality, well-established solutions, backed up by support teams that provide high-quality support and are easy to do business with. SUSE has been in the business a long time, and we have a reputation for very well-engineered, stable, and interoperable products.

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