CloudOpen Q&A: SUSE's Michael Miller on Why Linux is the Natural OS for the Cloud

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In the latest of our LinuxCon and CloudOpen keynote Q&A series we talk to SUSE's Vice President of Global Alliances Michael Miller. Miller will be talking in his keynote at the events about how service-oriented clouds are bridging the divide between IT and lines of businesses. He also hinted twice during our conversatoin about a big announcement coming.

You're keynoting at LinuxCon and CloudOpen about service-oriented clouds. Can you give us a teaser for what we should expect from your presentation?

Miller: One of the key things that is driving interest in the cloud is IT being more responsive to the needs of the line of business. Enterprises that are having early success with their cloud implementations are using cloud as the impetus to have conversations between IT and the line of business and are changing the way they think about each other's roles. The service-oriented cloud is the next step in the evolution. IT will work with the business users of the cloud to standardize certain services like a database or load balancers that can be repeatedly delivered and ease the deployment of cloud workloads. And SUSE will be making a major announcement that will sit at the heart of this service oriented cloud.

What are you hearing from SUSE customers about cloud and open source?

Miller: Well a couple of years ago we kept hearing from the senior management teams that they weren't ready for cloud, because they were unsure how they were going to manage data and security. But, we also kept seeing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server be run more and more in public clouds like Amazon Web Services, IBM Smart Cloud and 1&1. Over the past year or so, our customers have started asking a lot more questions about private cloud. Their concerns with the public cloud around data and security haven't gone away, but I think they are looking to learn about cloud, while gaining some of the benefits of flexibility and business responsiveness by establishing a private cloud. For the most part, when they come to SUSE to discuss these things, it is all open source. They view Linux and open source solutions as driving their clouds.

What role do you believe Linux is playing in the accelerating cloud computing space?

Miller: Linux as a technology, with its straightforward subscription model, has been key to the rise of cloud computing. Being able to leverage an open, flexible and reliable technology on commodity hardware makes the economics and technical advancement work. And as cloud advances beyond just test and development, and we see more enterprises use the cloud in production it will be critical that these Linux workloads are fully supported, too. But, while Linux as a technology is important, for the advancement of cloud - the success of Linux as an open source development model may be even more important.

Agility, flexibility and customization is the promise of cloud computing. It is also the promise that open source, particularly Linux, has been delivering on for more than twenty years. We believe that open source development has begun and will further lead to a new generation of innovations that enable enterprises to realize the promise of the cloud. Enterprises need open standards and the industry working as a community to ensure that prior technology investments are not made obsolete and that new investments are future proof by a shift into the cloud.

So while we believe Linux will be operating system of choice for cloud infrastructure and workloads, we also believe that Linux has shown the path to big successful industry change through open source development projects.

What open cloud projects are you keeping a close eye on and why?

Miller: We are definitely keeping our eye on a few open cloud projects. CloudStack. Eucalyptus. But, OpenStack was the project that has really gotten our attention. It clearly was the project with the greatest industry support and most vibrant community. OpenStack was also the project that our customers kept asking us about. Obviously, as a platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation we are highly invested in ensuring the long-run viability of the project. The move by OpenStack to form the foundation we believe will not only ensure the ongoing vitality of the project, but also ensure the project's development goals benefit the industry and not just one company. In the same way, that Linux was developed to benefit the many over the few.

As we get set to launch a product based on OpenStack in the next month, we are primarily following other open cloud projects from a competitive standpoint.

How have you seen Linux adapt quickly before to advance a new market opportunity? Do you see parallels today with cloud computing?

Miller: One of the areas where Linux adapted quickly was in virtualization. Starting with Xen and now with the emergence of KVM, Linux support for hypervisors and the evolution of that support was both rapid and very relevant to the current discussion on cloud. Xen and KVM, today, deliver performance on par with commercial hypervisors while providing the scalability, lock-in avoidance and cost reduction that customers are looking for. If you look at the public cloud providers using Xen powered servers for their infrastructure (Amazon, Rack Space, Go=Grid and others) you could almost conclude that open source hypervisors make public clouds possible.

To catch Michael Miller's keynote presentation, check out the LinuxCon/CloudOpen schedule.