Q&A: SUSE's Australasian sales director

Hamish Miles talks about open source, the Cloud and what has changed since SUSE was acquired by Attachmate

When its parent company Novell was acquired by Attachmate earlier this year, it meant that SUSE appointed a new regional sales director for the Australasian region. Hamish Miles spoke to Computerworld Australia about his new role, the future of Linux in the enterprise, the Cloud and what role open source will play in the future.

What is your role at SUSE and where were you working prior to this?

Previously, I was running Attachmate sales for the UK and Ireland. And now that the Attachmate Group runs SUSE and Novell, I spoke with my line manager and said if any opportunities were to come up in the Australasia region that I would like to be considered for these, and it was a really great opportunity so I thought I’d take it up.

What are some of the projects you are currently working on?

My role is regional sales director of SUSE for Australia and New Zealand. SUSE is the original enterprise Linux provider — we’ve been in business for nearly 20 years doing this. Some of our key milestones in the past have included in working in partnership with IBM on Linux distribution for the mainframe in 2000. We’re [also] one of the biggest players working on getting Linux into the Cloud.

The challenge that we’ve got in Australia and New Zealand is that we need to grow our presence here. We have the best product, and when I go to meetings, our clients don’t tell us that our product is rubbish. They say come and see us more often because we have a very good product. We also have all the wrap-around that organisations are looking for. The recent development of SUSE becoming independent has been really positive.

With a history reaching as far back as 1994, how does the company remain relevant?

This is the beauty of open source. The community dictates the direction that we’re heading in, and we are aware of what sort of technologies are out there. The people who developed Linux are very clever people — they know what’s going on technically and how capable it is. So as an organisation we’ve been able to change and morph with the sort of requirements that our clients are generating and we’ve got the smart people to generate and come up with very good products.

Can you explain where SUSE is taking its Cloud strategy?

There are two types of Cloud — public and private, and there is also the hybrid Cloud that’s a combination of both. We’re already in the Cloud business. You can use SUSE through a number of public Cloud providers, and we use Telstra locally. We also work with IBM and Intel, Rackspace and we’ve got some more global announcements coming up shortly about this.

Already today you can use SUSE. And the type of people who use it… are test and development people, and we understood this would be the case. But we also get a lot of social media usage, as well as people using SAP in their Cloud. You can run enterprise workload machine and critical workloads in the Cloud for sure.

How has the company changed since being acquired by Attachmate Group?

In the past, we were linked to a wider product portfolio of Novell, and so SUSE Linux formed a part of that strategy.

Now that we’re independent, one of the first things that we did was we talked to our customers and asked them what they wanted from their Cloud strategy. We’ve got a really driven Cloud strategy and being vertically aligned allows us to be a little bit flexible. Customers are driving those requirements.

What role do you think open source will play in the future of the IT industry?

There are about three answers to that. The Unix market is declining at about 7 per cent and that’s going to continue to do so until about 2014, [that] is what IDC is saying at the moment. Microsoft’s growth in the enterprise space is about 4.9 per cent, and Linux growth is about 19.7 per cent and that is huge. The rapid growth rate is phenomenal, and organisations are learning very quickly that running stuff on Linux isn’t a novelty and is quite normal. We’re at a tipping point right now and the cost savings are so dramatic, and margin is critical to these organisations.

We have a range of customers like Coles, Telstra and Credit Union Australia. They are all different industries and it shows that [Linux] is quite industry agnostic.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

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