Prague Time


© Images courtesy of Swapnil Bhartiya

© Images courtesy of Swapnil Bhartiya

Article from Issue 205/2017

SUSE travels to Prague to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

As a SUSECON regular, I recognized the historical importance of this year's SUSECON, which took place on September 25-29 in historic Prague, Czechia at the Hilton Prague hotel. This year, SUSE celebrated its 25th anniversary. SUSE, which is the oldest Linux company, was founded just a few months after Linus Torvalds released the Linux kernel.

SUSECON alternates between North America and Europe. This year it was Europe's turn. Prague was an expected location because it is the second largest base of SUSE/openSUSE developers after Nuremberg.

I flew out of DC on September 23rd and arrived in Prague on the 24th. Next morning, I headed for a press conference and one-to-one interviews with SUSE executives.

According to Nils

It has become a tradition for me to kick-start my SUSECON interview series with Nils Brauckmann, the CEO of SUSE. Before I talk business, I'll start with a fun fact for SUSE fans. SUSE has its own band that plays at the event. The band is made up of SUSE engineers and executives, and trust me, they are amazing. Brauckmann himself is a great drummer, but he is stage shy. I have been asking him for the last two years to make a stage debut at SUSECON, but? I will keep trying. (He said he has better drummers on his team.) As consolation, I did get to see Ralf Flaxa, SUSE president of engineering, at the keyboard. Not the computer keyboard – the one on stage.

Brauckmann has been heading SUSE ever since it was acquired by Attachmate, and he has steered SUSE out of troubled waters and into the safe hands of Micro Focus.

According to Brauckmann, the company has been growing tremendously. This year, the company registered more than a 21% increase in revenue, which brings it in the ballpark of $303 million. That's smaller than Red Hat's $2.4 billion annual revenue, but SUSE only recently got back on its feet, so the achievement is certainly significant.

Within one year, SUSE has already made two acquisitions: in addition to buying openATTIC, they have acquired HPE's portfolio of OpenStack and Cloud Foundry technologies/IP. Brauckmann hinted at the possibility of more acquisitions if they are needed to help SUSE meet its goals.

I also interviewed Michael Miller, president of strategy, alliances, and marketing; CTO Thomas Di Giacomo; and Ralf Flaxa.

On the Stage

The main event started on September 25th when Brauckmann and Miller took over the stage to reflect on SUSE's 25 years, its growth, and its future. Although SUSE is still primarily a Linux vendor, it's trying to grow beyond that label and become a technology leader that offers a wide range of solutions to run modern workloads.

On the 2nd day, Miller and Giacomo (aka Dr. T) took over the stage, where they talked about the coordination between marketing and engineering. Giacomo invited K. V. Srinivasan from Microsoft to the stage. Srinivasan has been one of the leading contributors to the Linux kernel. Srinivasan talked about the work SUSE and Microsoft have been doing to add Linux support to Microsoft's Azure cloud.

Abby Kearns, executive director of Cloud Foundry, was a surprise guest who talked about Cloud Foundry and how SUSE is using Cloud Foundry to build a Cloud Application Platform. Kozo Otsuka, CTO for Fujitsu, also joined Miller and Giacomo and talked about the decade-old relationship between SUSE and Fujitsu to offer mission-critical solutions to customers.

On the third day, Flaxa and Giacomo talked about continuous integration and continuous delivery. They also highlighted the synergy between the openSUSE community and SUSE business.

Flaxa mentioned two gems from openSUSE and SUSE communities: Package Hub and Open Build Service. These two projects enable developers to package applications – not just for SUSE and openSUSE, but also for competing projects.

Giacomo mentioned the growing influence of containerization, and that an increasing number of SUSE products are becoming containerized. Gary Thome, vice president, chief technologist for software defined infrastructure at HPE, joined the duo to talk about the work HPE is doing with SUSE to help users solve their challenges.

SUSE engineers a panel discussion, in which they talked about the pace of innovation and how SUSE copes with change. Then SAP's Martin Fassunge talked about the work SAP and SUSE have been doing together and what makes SUSE a smart choice for SAP workloads.


One interesting aspect of the show was that most SUSE executives were wearing Tumbleweed T-shirts, which reflects the significance of Tumbleweed across SUSE products. The emphasis on openSUSE's Tumbleweed distribution also reflects the strong relationship between the openSUSE community project and SUSE the company.

One of the biggest highlights of SUSECON is always Demopalooza, where the teams give amazing demos with "beer as a service" delivered to attendees at their seats. This year some technical failures occurred during the demos. There was even one minor accident. A free Raspberry Pi was thrown out into the audience and it hit a guy in the forehead. Ouch.

All three days, the entertainment was provided by SUSE's own band. Brauckmann never did play the drums, but he did join the band to sing the happy birthday song. SUSE threw a lavish birthday party for itself at the historical Zofin Palace.

Rumor has it that the next SUSECON will take place in a Canadian city.

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