Roughly one year after Attachmate acquired Novell and the SUSE Linux business, SUSE is showing several signs of progress. The SUSE organization seems more nimble and far more focused on strategic partnerships and customer acquisition, The VAR Guy senses. Here's the update -- along with some lingering challenges that the SUSE team must address.

Rewind to early 2011. Some critics wondered if SUSE would lose momentum under Attachmate's ownership. After all, Attachmate is a fairly low-profile software company. For most of 2011, the SUSE public relations effort was fairly quiet. But SUSE has been making some good noise in recent months:
  • In November 2011, SUSE named Hamish Miles as regional sales director of Australia and New Zealand.
  • A few days ago, SUSE said the number of registered users building cloud-ready application images with SUSE Studio has more than doubled in one year to 233,500. SUSE Studio has been, in The VAR Guy's opinion, one of SUSE's smartest and best launches in the past five years.
  • SUSE has continued to build a closer relationship with Dell, particularly on the cloud computing front.
Longer term, the SUSE team is now organizing SUSECon, a SUSE Linux Conference (Sept. 18-21, Orlando, Fla.) for customers and partners. Smart move. Although Attachmate promoted SUSE at the annual BrainShare conference, SUSE needs a stage of its own to help put a bright spotlight on independent software developers (ISVs), technology partners and customer engagements.

Lingering Challenges

Despite SUSE's progress, plenty of challenges remain. Attachmate is privately held and doesn't disclose financial results, so it's unclear if SUSE-related profits are growing. Plus, some customers and partners lost faith in SUSE during the long Novell sale process, which consumed much of late 2010. And many Novell managers, some of which focused on SUSE, exited the company upon the Attachmate buyout. Net result: SUSE partners and customers had to navigate a lot of change in 2011.

Meanwhile, rival Red Hat continues to gain momentum on multiple fronts -- promoting Linux, Jboss open source middleware, open source storage, open source virtualization and cloud computing, just to name a few. Red Hat is expected to deliver another round of strong quarterly results when it announces financials on March 21, 2012.

Still, SUSE is making some real noise for the first time since Attachmate acquired Novell roughly a year ago. And for SUSE partners, that's welcome news.