Channel technologies, Enterprise

HPE Names SUSE (Not Red Hat) Preferred Linux Partner

Meg Whitman
Meg Whitman

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is playing favorites in the Linux market, selecting SUSE rather than Red Hat and Canonical Ubuntu as the company's preferred Linux distribution partner. The move, in theory, could potentially trigger a ripple effect across corporate data centers worldwide -- especially for customers that are deploying OpenStack private clouds.

SUSE, located in Germany, has long enjoyed a strong following in Europe and also has a good global footprint. But the company's business ownership changes -- from independence to Novell to Micro Focus -- ultimately solidified rival Red Hat's perceived dominance in the commercial market.

HPE and SUSE vs. Red Hat

But is the tide about to turn? When HPE announced plans to sell certain software assets to Micro Focus, the deal included a major HPE commitment to SUSE.

"Today we announced plans for a commercial partnership with Micro Focus that will name SUSE as HPE's preferred Linux partner," said HPE CEO Meg Whitman during an earnings call. "We will bring together HPEs' Helion OpenStack and Stackato solutions with SUSE's OpenStack expertise to provide best-in-class, enterprise-grade hybrid cloud offerings for HPE customers."

That's a longwinded way of saying that HPE and its new preferred partner are declaring Linux and OpenStack war against Red Hat -- which has a close working relationship with Lenovo's server business.

Next Linux Moves

SUSE and HPE are working together to define the specifics of the commercial partnership with expectation of completion in the fourth quarter of 2016, the company.

The relationship is an expansion of an existing alliance that has involved Linux and software-defined storage solution.

As part of the announcement, SUSE mentioned a range of recent business milestones. They include:

  • Recent CEO, president and chief technology officer appointments.
  • Revenue in the last fiscal year grew more than 18 percent, and the employee base grew 23 percent, primarily in areas dedicated to Linux development, customer care, and sales and marketing.

Major Marketshare Shift? Unlikely

In theory, some HPE customers could be inclined to embrace SUSE for more projects. But the chances of a wholesale market shift away from Red Hat, Canonical and other distributions seems remote -- especially since millions of Linux workloads now run out on public clouds beyond HPE's control and influence.

ChannelE2E has reached out to Red Hat and Canonical for their respective responses to HPE's move. We're checking to see if/how the various companies will continue to support mutual customers, many of which run a range of Linux variants on HPE servers.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.