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SDx, hybrid cloud drive enterprise IT

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Kathy Gibson at SUSEcon, Prague — Enterprises are embracing the concepts of software defined infrastructure and hybrid cloud, which plays into the open source value proposition.
“At the same time, developers and IT people are coming closer together and IT is getting closer to the business,” says Thomas di Giacomo, chief technology officer of SUSE.
“This isn’t just a theory – it really is happening.”
SUSE continues to improve and modernise Linux while expanding the portfolio to embrace the software-defined infrastructure.
While much of the innovation come from the open source community, SUSE matches that with the business requirements that enterprise customers need.
Demonstrating its commitment to the ongoing development of business-critical enterprise solutions, SUSE has established a chief technology officer. This team will work with the open source communities to help define the future for its customers, Di Giacomo explains.
“One of SUSE’s key deliverables is that it is an open open company,” he adds. “This helps us to embrace diversity.”
Di Giacomo describes diversity as the art of thinking differently, together.
“And IT is diverse, companies have different environments, and there are different people behind those choices.
“In any company there are many different physical technologies that have to co-exist. So as IT suppliers we have a challenge: we have to know what’s in all the mixed bags, and help our customers go forward.”
He cites the SUSE partnership with Microsoft, which started in 2006. “This has benefited our joint customers by accommodating their diversity.”
Di Giacomo says people often ask why SUSE provides products that support non-SUSE products.
“That’s a good question. When vendors ask it, it shows that they don’t understand their customers’ needs. But my answer is that this is what SUSE does.
“It is not always an easy path,” he adds. “We have to think about interoperability from the beginning and make sure it’s embedded in our products and solutions.
“Going this route requires more certification and more support. But it’s what our customers with mixed environments need.”
Having said that, Di Giacomo adds that SUSE can provide a a full “green stack” — but only if that is what customers want.
One of the big buzz words right now is hybrid cloud, he adds. “Public cloud has become a reality and there are a lot of workloads migrating to pubic cloud.
“At the same time, public cloud is not going to be the only way forward. Here are many reasons for this.”
Di Giacomo says SUSE is open to the idea of hybrid cloud, with products and tools that operate across diverse clouds.
He points out that SUSE Lunix is the dominant platform for public clouds, particularly in the service and network provider space.
“And one of the most recent examples of what we are doing in that space is what we have put together with Microsoft and HPE with Azure Stack.”
Linux is a major part of many Microsoft platforms, says Ky Srinivasan, partner director: enterprise open source group at Microsoft.
The relationship with SUSE goes back a long way, he says. “SUSE collaborated with Microsoft long before it was fashionable — in fact it’s been 10 years now.”
During that time, .Net and SQL have been made available in Linux. SAP HANA is on Azure and Linux, SUSE runs on Windows, SUSE runs on Azure, HPC runs on Azure and now Linux is growing even more an Azure.
The future lies in hybrid cloud, Srinivasan believes. “Customers are all in different stages of the journey to cloud. We believe the best way is to have a consistent hybrid platform that lets users migrate as it suits them.”
Azure Stack shares code with Azure, and this helps to maintain that consistency. It helps with workload management, identity management and workload consistency.
“What we have built with Azure Stack is a platform that is built from the ground up to support a consistent experience across the two environments,” he explains.
Microsoft is also writing workloads to be hybrid cloud aware to further enable the migration, Srinivasan adds.
There are a range of projects that Microsoft and SUSE are working on together, embracing Azure, OSS, SAP in Azure, Windows and SQL
“As a company Microsoft is committed to being an open source company. We want to do things in the open, leverage open source to build our own products,” Srinivasan says. “The numbers speak for themselves. We have released 3 000 open source projects, and have 6 000 engineers contributing to open source.
“In addition, we use 10 000 open source technologies in our own products.”
Fujitsu is another long-time SUSE partner, and now runs SUSE Linux on all its servers, orchestration engines and personal computers.
In particular, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server helps to enable the company’s business –critical servers, while SUSE OpenStack helps Fujitsu to provide infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Now containers as a service (CaaS) has been added to the Fujitsu solution line-up.
New collaborations will probably include the integration of Ceph in the data space, and the integration of further services.
As developers become more prominent in the IT organisation, there’s a need to manage all the different programming languages, tools and processes that developers use.
“They are all doing the same thing,” Di Giacomo points out. “They are just coming from different directions. Getting development and operations closer together will be very powerful.”
In fact, the move to DevOps helps companies as a whole to be more agile and responsive to business needs.
“It is possible now to adopt new, agile ways of doing things, while keeping the stable infrastructure running,” Di Giacomo says.
SUSE products keep developers and IT in mind. “We try to find the balance and evolve internally.”
“So we once again make the case for openness,” Di Giacomo says. SUSE supports more development and operating environments, and has now also made containers as a service (CaaS) available.
Containers are rapidly becoming mainstream. “They have been around in Linux for years, but now they have been made simpler and more widely available,” says Di Giacomo.
Studies show that about 25% of enterprise customers are using containers in production today, and this is expected to rise to about 40% soon.
“Containers help IT to be more agile and consistent,” Di Giacomo says.
“But we have found that simply adding containers is not enough o meet enterprise needs. They also need an automated and abstracted services platform to hide the infrastructure from developers to allow them to do their jobs.”
This has informed the development of the Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service (PaaS) that will be launched next month.