Dan's Take

SUSE Embraces Docker Containers

The integration with its product suite means more choice for enterprises.

Recently SUSE announced that it has fully embraced Docker as a component of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 12. After having spoken to representatives of Red Hat, VMware and a number of other interested suppliers, I thought it would be good to speak with the SUSE team.

SUSE points out that its current Docker offering supports x86- and x64-based servers. It's planning to introduce support for this technology on other hardware platforms in the future. The company also has plans to integrate Docker into its SUSE Manager for lifecycle management tool.

As with my other conversations with SUSE, I was impressed with the company's philosophy when it comes to integrating open source projects and technology into its offerings. As mentioned in a couple of articles -- "The Meaning Behind the VMware Projects Photon and Lightwave" and "VMware AppCatalyst and Project Bonneville: 'Datacenter On the Desktop'" -- different suppliers demonstrate different approaches to adopting this technology:

  • Red Hat offers products based upon a selection of open source projects that have been pre-configured to work with its entire product portfolio. It's happy to work with customers wishing to use other editions of that technology, but points out that its versions work well with the Red Hat environment, have been tested and are supported so that the enterprise doesn't have to do all of the work. The company goes out of its way to wave the "open source" banner and does its best to be seen as being open source from top to bottom.

  • VMware, Oracle and a number of others bring in open source technology so that they can be seen as being part of the movement; but upon closer examination, their efforts are really ways to embrace that technology, extend it in proprietary ways and tie their version of the technology tightly to their portfolio of software.

  • SUSE takes an approach far more like a buffet rather than a fixed menu restaurant. It believes that the enterprise is better served if a wide range of supported options is available. The company points out that its version of Docker can run on SLES executing directly on 64-bit x86-based physical systems; executing within a Xen-based virtual machine (VM); or executing in a KVM-based VM.
Dan's Take: If You Like Buffets, You'll Like SUSE
Which approach is better for your enterprise? The answer depends, of course, upon how open source technology is viewed.  If the company has standardized on infrastructure technology offered by VMware, Red Hat, Oracle or some other supplier, then their approach to offering Docker should be selected. If the enterprise has the expertise and time, and needs to select its own mix of open source technology, SUSE might be a better choice.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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