‘We have polished and mastered the art of open source technologies’

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Rajarshi Bhattacharyya, Country Head at SUSE

In an interaction with CRN, Rajarshi Bhattacharyya, Country Head at SUSE, describes how open source is gaining popularity these days, how the market in India is different from other countries and how SUSE is playing its role. Here are some edited excerpts…

Open source acceptance has gained momentum in the past few years in the India market. What are the reasons that are backing up its popularity; what role is SUSE playing?
If we look into the past, we will realise that the efforts to increase diversity in open source aren’t new. It’s just that the companies have started embracing open source technology now. Probably, because of the positive results they are leveraging from it.

Positive results are not just restricted to the fact that code is available and is free of cost. Many businesses and Indian government organisations using open source software such as Linux, makes it clear that free and open-source software (FOSS) holds plethora of other compelling advantages, apart from low cost. Here are some benefits that are backing up the popularity of open source and helping in gaining momentum.

We’ve been witnessing in the past few years businesses are not on open source. Businesses relying on commercially supported Linux systems will have access to every available security fix, unlike Windows, where we need to depend completely on the response of one company to provide timely security fixes and updates. As a lot of developers/code maintainers are involved, they ensure that Linux is up-to- date and must keep system secure and protected. Open source is not dependent on a single company/developer/ coder with closed source code. Instead, it allows access to the worldwide community to get the best security fix available. Linux offers regular updates (kernel) to an almost daily list of security patches to provide strong security and enhanced system for its users.

Businesses have started realising the risk of lock-in that comes with proprietary packages, which is not the case with open source. When businesses turn to open source software, they free themselves from the severe vendor lock-in.

Today, the organisation looks for a solution provider who doesn’t create dependency. Having mission-critical systems and data at the mercy of a single vendor’s product road map and licensing strategy restricts/limits customers’ vision, requirements, and priorities for the products they’re paying for. By locking business on a single platform, a monopolistic vendor is capable of placing systems at risk and not getting updated beyond a point.

With FOSS, on the other hand, users/businesses are in control to make their own decisions and to utilise the software the way they want. Additionally, they also have the support of a worldwide community of developers and users at their disposal to help, in case required. Besides, proprietary vendors tend to stop development of a product after a few years. In such cases, open source lets you retain the right to use the solution you already have. Compared to proprietary software, open source software is much less resource-intensive and can run on an older hardware as well. It’s up to the user–not some vendor–to decide when it’s time to upgrade.

Customisability — can change according to a customer’s or user’s specific need – isn’t that what modern era of IT world requires! Open source allows business users to use as it is, tweak or modify the code to add the functionality that suit their needs. Does proprietary software give you that “choice”, the answer is big no! The philosophy behind open source is all about sharing and interoperability with other systems. It is about sharing the source code and not sharing your private data. As a business, your organisation should not be limited by a proprietary vendor’s idea of what you need. Most proprietary vendors do not customise solutions according to business needs, while open source vendors can easily tailor their solutions for the way you do business.

We are not a new comer to open source technology. We have polished and mastered the art of open source technologies with every passing year. We’re passionately engaged in numerous projects, initiatives and standards where we represent the needs and requirements of our customers and business partners. We embrace and believe in the open source innovation model and the open source business model. And together with our communities, we continuously advance state-of-the-art, open source technologies to meet demanding business requirements.

As a company, our efforts are to ensure the best technology possible through:

  • Simplicity to develop and deploy applications
  • Enterprise grade cloud infrastructure
  • Software-defined storage
  • Operating system level virtualisation
  • Operating systems for mission critical use
  • Software-defined networking
  • Infrastructure services
  • Open platforms

How is the Indian open source market different from other countries; what significance it holds in Digital India, and how is SUSE contributing to it?
Open source is not restricted to India. Businesses across the world are leveraging open source benefits and it has already gained momentum in the past few years.
A lot of initiatives have been started by the Indian government towards making a “Path to New India”. From “Make in India”, to “Skill India”, “Digital India” and what not. People have different perspectives, when it comes to Digital India. But for us, the most important aspect is policies related to open source.

We are glad that apart from private organisations, now even the Indian government is leveraging open source. Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) of Ministry of Communication & Information Technology released three major policies related to open source. These policies act as potential game changers in the IT industry. They have been introduced to promote and foster the adoption of FOSS. FOSS comes with own benefits, from interoperability, flexibility to freedom to customise the software based on requirements. These initiatives will help India in strengthening their position in IT and bridging the digital divide with significant cost savings — facilitating the creation of a knowledge society.

SUSE has recently partnered with growth investor EQT. How do you think it’s going to impact SUSE strategy and product expansion?
It’s indeed a big positive change for SUSE. EQT investing in SUSE is recognition of our value and potential. We believe the acquisition is well timed as the market driven need for digital transformation, built on open source software-defined infrastructure (SDI) and application delivery technologies, is increasing. Organisations are invariably increasing their focus on open source technologies and solutions to transform their businesses.

Partnership with growth investor, EQT, will help us to continue the momentum, strategy execution and product expansion as an independent business. With this partnership, we expect to be equipped to further exploit the excellent market opportunity both in the Linux operating system area as well as in emerging product groups in the open source space.

Further investment and support will enable SUSE’s continued expansion and advance innovation to drive growth in SUSE’s core business as well as in emerging technologies, both organically and through add-on acquisitions.

In keeping with its 25 year history, SUSE intends to remain committed to an open source development and business model and actively participate in communities and projects to bring open source innovation to the enterprise as high quality, reliable and usable solutions.

What is SUSE’s focus area?
SUSE has evolved and expanded from an enterprise Linux vendor to become a provider of enterprise software-defined infrastructure. SUSE’s overall strategy provide enterprise-grade, open source, software-defined infrastructure and application platform solutions. OpenStack has significant momentum and offers tremendous value to enterprises. We believe it will continue to do so for years to come as it becomes an important foundational platform for software-defined infrastructure innovation. Similarly, the PaaS market is poised for rapid growth, and Cloud Foundry is quickly becoming the trusted open source platform for cloud-native application development. We will leverage the Cloud Foundry PaaS assets to accelerate our entry into the PaaS market and deliver a certified Cloud Foundry distribution.

Our vision is a convergence between the best of container and orchestration technologies with the best of PaaS technologies that will create innovation that matters to our enterprise customers and partners. We have a good presence in India and our open source software offering remains a popular choice among our customers and partners.

How SUSE sees it in the long run?
SUSE provides and supports enterprise-grade Linux and open source solutions with exceptional service, value and flexibility. With partners and communities, we innovate, adapt and deliver secure Linux, cloud infrastructure and storage software to create solutions for mixed enterprise IT environments.