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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft / SUSE Linux Deal Extended until 2016

Microsoft / SUSE Linux Deal Extended until 2016

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SUSE, formally part of Novell, has renewed its interoperability agreement with Microsoft for five more years. This agreement includes a 100 million investment in “new SUSE Linux Enterprise certificates”. And like the last agreement it raises more questions than answers.

In a press release by SUSE they mention that over 725 customers have taken advantage of the Microsoft-SUSE collaboration. What this actually means is unclear, but 725 customers is such an insignificant number that one has to wonder why it was mentioned at all. Surely there are more than a thousand companies with SUSE support contracts. And why does Microsoft need to pay into the scheme?

There is a mention of “the combination of a cross-platform solution with Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server”, but Microsoft has been submitting code directly to the Linux kernel since 2009. And once the kernel is working properly anything SUSE Enterprise Server adds shouldn’t even be aware it is running in a virtual machine.

Kurt Mackie of Redmond Developer News claims that the certificates are more about IP licensing.

Under the renewed agreement, however, Microsoft will invest $100 million in "new SUSE Linux Enterprise certificates." These certificates are bought by customers electing to receive Linux support from SUSE, but they also provide interoperability support for mixed Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise environments, as well as legal protection from Microsoft.

Microsoft promises not sue SUSE's customers for patent violations, vaguely ascribed to using Linux, if customers buy these certificates. Microsoft's announcement cited "more than 725 customers worldwide" that have bought into this joint Microsoft and SUSE program.

Again it is not clear why Microsoft is getting out of the deal. Given that Attachmate, parent company of SUSE, now owns the Novell’s UNIX patents Microsoft may be the one who is really buying the protection. But this is pure speculation and concert information is hard to come by.

Likewise neither Microsoft nor SUSE/Novell’s online marketplace explicitly say how one would obtain these certificates. If they are included with the normal support subscriptions, it isn’t mentioned in the product descriptions. And there certainly isn’t any stand-alone offerings for it.

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