Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) recently became the world's first $1 billion open source company. Now, the folks at SUSE, promoter of the rival Linux distribution, are seeking bragging rights of their own. Indeed, SUSE says it now has more than 9,200 certified third-party applications and supports over 13,500 hardware, storage and networking devices. Impressive. But is SUSE in growth mode?

The VAR Guy's educated hunch: Absolutely yes. Attachmate acquired Novell and its SUSE business roughly a year ago. Over the past year, SUSE has been freed from Novell branding, and SUSE is once again run from its own European headquarters.

Customer Base

Now in its 20th year of business, SUSE says it has 15,000 customers. Over two-thirds of the Fortune 500 run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. And SUSE claims it is the most widely used commercial enterprise Linux distribution in China.

SUSE has also been promoting SUSE Studio to speed software appliance development, and SUSE Manager to ease IT management -- including mixed SUSE and Red Hat customer installations.

How Much Growth?

In a prepared statement, SUSE President and GM Nils Brauchmann said the organization accelerated its growth and profitability over the past year -- no small feat considering some partners and customers were skeptical of SUSE's management under Attachmate's ownership.

Still, SUSE doesn't disclose actual financial and growth figures. And Red Hat seems to be gaining momentum across its Linux, virtualization, middleware and now storage businesses.