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US SuSE President Says Views Were "Misrepresented"

Feb 08, 2001, 20:36 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt

In an interview today, the president of SuSE Linux AG's US division denied interpreations of statements that were attributed to him in stories published late yesterday, saying that they were taken "out-of-context."

Volker Wiegand, President of SuSE, Inc., emphasized that while some jobs were being eliminated in the U.S. offices of SuSE, this would in no way affect the level of services being offered to SuSE's customers and that in fact the service level and product offerings were actually going to increase.

Wiegand's comments are about a story that appeared on LinuxGram yesterday afternoon. In that article, Wiegand was portrayed as painting Linux as "a victim of hype and irrational expectations." Wiegand flatly denies drawing any such conclusions, and is incredulous that those conclusions were drawn. SuSE's portrayal in the press took an even worse turn when Australian-based news site Fairfax IT picked up the original LinuxGram story and condensed it to make the conclusion that Wiegand felt "Linux doesn't work."

Wiegand called these comments "ridiculous," and offered up his message once again.

Wiegand said his inital comments meant nothing is wrong with SuSE, Inc. or Linux in general, and the recent job restructuring is part of SuSE's decision to "use our resources in a more efficient manner."

According to Wiegand, there were two areas within SuSE where jobs were redundant. In the area of the call support center located here in the U.S., much of the functionality was duplicated by SuSE's 100-person European call center, which was already geared to handle much of the European market and could easily manage to inclusion of U.S. support calls.

The second area was within SuSE, Inc.'s professional services group, where three consultants would be laid off. Here, the company's pre-existing consultancy in Germany plus the additional services provided by the new arrangement with IBM Global Services would be more than adequate to handle SuSE's existing and future customer base.

This does not mean, Wiegand clarified, that SuSE would be completely giving up its consultant work to IBM, which he felt the LinuxGram article implied.

As for calling Linux a victim of high expectations, Wiegand seemed most affronted by those attributed statements and how the LinuxGram article misrepresented his actual statement.

"I said it would be a sad story if Linux became a victim of high expectations," Wiegand clarified. If expectations were too high, then the reality of the situation could make some label Linux as a failure, if the reality were lower than those high goals.

Wiegand doesn't think Linux, or SuSE, is a failed business model at all, and passionately defended this point of view.

Linux, he feels, comes from a place where volunteerism and people donating their spare time made Linux what it is today. As Linux moved into the corporate arena, people discovered that there was no business model in place for Linux, since it certainly never needed one before.

"The task right now," Wiegand said, "is to find business models where the customer is satisfied and the business is profitable."

At this point in time, Wiegand is expressing some concern that the Linux market is not growing as fast as SuSE would like.

"The current situation is not growing as fast as many people have anticipated," he said. But, Wiegand does not foresee doom for SuSE or any other segment of Linux. The challenge now, he stated, "is to concentrate on the things we are good at." By adjusting its business practices to a slightly more conservative approach, SuSE plans to keep right on doing that.

As for the end users? How will SuSE's relationship with them change, particularly in the U.S.?

"That doesn't change a single bit," Wiegand emphasized, "We are not taking anything away from this market."

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