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SuSE Plans to Straddle Linux Spectrum

Aug 04, 2003, 18:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Writer

Hot on the heels of last week's pact with Sun, SuSE Linux will unveil another OEM deal on Wednesday of this week at LinuxWorld. SuSE also plans a security certification announcement for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, with SCO now out of the Linux picture, SuSE is trying to pick up some of the mid-sized and enterprise business contracts left behind. Yet although the enterprise is becoming a larger thrust, SuSE will definitely keep selling its Linux Professional shrinkwrapped product in retail stores.

As a big part of the pact inked last Thursday, Sun's Linux customers will now start to get a choice between two distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

The deal SuSE will announce this Wednesday is with "a smaller but very important OEM," said Holger Dyroff, SuSE's director of sales for North America. The impending security announcement, on the other hand, will help SuSE in the government market, he predicted.

"Our stategy is clear. We will keep selling to the enterprise, mid-sized, small business, and technical (consumer) markets. We have served (the small business and technical/consumer markets) with SuSE Linux Professional since March of '93, and we will continue to do so. Why should we stop? Why should we disappoint this customer space? We're emphasizing the enterprise most, though, because that is where there is the most growth," Dyroff said.

SuSE's booth at LinuxWorld will also house exhibits from partners IBM, HP, Novell, Oracle and security vendor Veritas. Veritas will give a presentation in SuSE's "theater." Earlier this year, Novell announced intentions to make all its NetWare services available on both NetWare and Linux.

Now, in the wake of SCO's recent move to abandon the Linux market, SuSE has started getting support from IBM's and HP's channel organizations, according to Dyroff.

"We don't know about the Sun channel yet, though. That relationship is still too new," he added.

During Comdex last fall, Dyroff said that SuSE expected to "take on" both Sun and Microsoft as competitors. At this point, however, SuSE views Sun as both a partner and a competitor, Dyroff noted this week.

"A lot of our partners are also competitors, though. For example, IBM is a partner in Linux, but a competitor through AIX. Sun is (now) a partner with Linux, but a competitor through Solaris."

Meanwhile, a number of large, former SCO Linux customers are currently evaluating the use of SLES instead, according to Dyroff. SuSE recently added a second enterprise salesperson for North America. "The sales cycle for enterprises tends to be longer, however," he pointed out.

SuSE also began working with North American VAR partners late last year. The list of VARs now includes MFI and Resolution Group, as well as Mainline.

Dyroff dismissed any possibility that SuSE's worldwide service and support might suffer, now that SCO is no longer a partner through the UnitedLinux organization

"That is a concern only for the press, and not for our actual customers," he quipped. "Every journalist asks me that question."

Also, despite industry rumors that archrival Red Hat might pull its own product from retail stores, SuSE's Linux Professional will keep being sold as both a boxed product and a software download, according to Dyroff.

SuSE Linux Professional's 1,000-plus pages of documentation will continue to be available with the shrinkwrapped product, as well as with the download.

"Not everybody has a broadband connection at this point, and a lot of customers still prefer to get the documentation in the box," Dyroff maintained.

Also according to Dyroff, SuSE will keep introducing new features first in Linux Professional, before migrating the new capabilities upstream.

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