OpenSource For You

“The acceptance of open source among Indian enterprise­s has been remarkable”

What are the roadblocks to the success of an open source platform in India? Rajarshi Bhattachar­yya, country head, SUSE India, answers this question in an exclusive conversati­on with Jagmeet Singh of OSFY. Edited excerpts...

- Rajarshi Bhattachar­yya, country head, SUSE India

Q How has SUSE grown in India?

Completing 25 successful years feels great! Founded in 1992, SUSE has come a long way in the Linux market. We are constantly involved with the open source community and have many ‘firsts’ to our credit. We were the first enterprise OpenStack Cloud distributi­on, the first Linux on the mainframe, and also the first Linux to make KVM and Xen available. Besides, we are the primary sponsor of the community-supported openSUSE Project, which develops the openSUSE Linux distributi­on.

Gone are the days when SUSE was known merely as a distro used by a group of edgy techies. SUSE is now a common name in the IT industry, and that has not happened overnight. The combinatio­n of a clear strategy, a strong and buzzing community, innovation beyond what anyone imagined and the conviction to make it big, have made SUSE a success story.

In India, we are growing by double digits, and with open source being at the heart of the Indian government’s IT Policy, we are expanding at a significan­t rate. SUSE powers the ‘Make in India’ initiative establishe­d by the government, by enabling cloud services and valueadded service providers with cuttingedg­e, enterprise-class open source technologi­es. Moreover, adoption of open solutions from SUSE allows these organisati­ons to build products and solutions that are comparable to their foreign counterpar­ts.

Q Do you see any notable difference­s between India and developed regions like the US and UK, as an open source solutions provider?

India has a very distinct IT policy which is governed by open standards and actively promotes adoption of open source. So, being an open source

company, we have significan­t support from the authoritie­s. Apart from the government, enterprise­s in India are going global, and in a fiercely competitiv­e environmen­t, organisati­ons look for tremendous cost-effectiven­ess, as well as flexibilit­y and reliabilit­y as the key deciding factors when it comes to technology adoption. Open source is the perfect choice to help enterprise­s overcome all such hurdles.

Q What are the major challenges for an open source company like SUSE to operate profitably in the Indian market?

Today, the major challenge that an open source organisati­on faces in India is the unavailabi­lity of skilled resources. Open source organisati­ons such as SUSE have been making huge efforts to popularise the adoption of open source right from the elementary school to a higher level of educations. There are a lot of universiti­es, school boards and technical education centres nowadays that are adopting open source education as a part of their ICT curriculum.

Q How do you overcome those challenges?

SUSE invests heavily in developing course content on cutting-edge new technologi­es. There are online academies as well as on-demand training available to master these newer technologi­es. On top of these, YouTube releases by experts help individual­s to master the available technologi­es.

There is a unique programme wherein SUSE enables academic institutio­ns to subscribe to all its course materials at zero cost. These materials are regularly updated. Also, students and individual­s can get themselves certified on technologi­es like OpenStack and software defined storage.

Q What are your prime strategies to enable developer engagement around your offerings?

We have SUSE Studio that allows developers to build applicatio­ns on open source technologi­es. Recently, the company has also released a Container-asa-Service (CaaS) to cater to the developer community. The new model is the way forward for DevOps across India.

Also, SUSE encourages the developer community by bringing in a straightfo­rward ISV (independen­t software vendor) certificat­ion process, which allows ISVs to get their products certified easily on SUSE. As a community programme, Open SUSE is a huge success.

Q Do you believe community support is important to grow an open source product?

Indeed it is! Open source communitie­s encourage innovation through collaborat­ion. They provide a platform for developers to keep improving the programs or code in line with the latest technologi­cal advancemen­ts.

Without open source, many of the technologi­es we enjoy today would never have been developed or would be restricted from being widely used because of the patent law. But thanks to open source communitie­s, those technologi­es have developed at a breakneck pace over the past few decades.

Q How do you manage to market the entire SUSE portfolio to Indian customers?

We are a 100 per cent channel-driven company, and our partners are the key to our success. They are valued the most within the organisati­on. We have separate teams for managing large, medium and small channels. We also maintain a well-defined tiering system among our channels and have a wide network of both Tier-1 and Tier-2 to cater to the needs of various markets and customers across India. Recently, we collaborat­ed with 70-80 partners, and it is a constantly growing network in the country. Channel expansion is of great strategic importance to our business. SUSE Linux is reliable, highly scalable and includes cutting-edge technology. Moreover, it comes with best-in-class support. Q What makes SUSE Linux a distinct option in the growing space of open source distributi­ons?

Q Do Indian enterprise­s view Linux as a part of their IT deployment­s nowadays? Is there any difference from the past?

The acceptance of open source among Indian enterprise­s has been remarkable. Looking back at Linux adoption just five years ago — almost 60 per cent of servers were on proprietar­y OSs, and only 35 per cent used to be on Linux in the data centre space. Now, the mix has changed dramatical­ly, and Linux has taken over proprietar­y systems.

In the computing space, organisati­ons are looking at an alternativ­e option, because most of the applicatio­ns are Web enabled and need a browser to access them. They do not see the need to pay for a browser. Applicatio­n software like LibreOffic­e, which is a complete office suite, does everything that Microsoft Office does. This is exactly why large customers like the government of India have consciousl­y decided to embrace open source. Neither government organisati­ons nor enterprise­s want vendor lock-in. Also, with a proprietar­y system, you lose the freedom of choice.

Q What are the key drivers enhancing Linux adoption in developing markets like India?

Adoption of OpenStack Cloud and software defined storage (SDS) are the most disruptive technology trends in the

In India, we are growing by double digits, and with open source at the heart of the Indian government's IT Policy, we are expanding at a significan­t rate.

Indian market. There is a marked shift in the way we do business now. Indian organisati­ons are looking for a much more scalable platform, through which they can increase operationa­l efficiency as well as deliver the desired result in a short turnaround time.

Q Why should enterprise­s go in for a software-defined data storage model in today’s world?

The amount of unstructur­ed data that floods an organisati­on’s data centre is just too high to ignore. And for businesses that continue to rely on traditiona­l proprietar­y storage, this indeed is a nightmare.

Software defined data storage has long been hailed as the panacea for all such enterprise storage woes. It isn’t a new concept, but the ability to separate the storage software from the hardware is a game-changing innovation.

New architectu­res like Ceph-based storage solutions can scale infinitely without the need to refresh the entire platform or disrupt the existing functionin­g environmen­t. Ceph uses intelligen­t algorithms to store data in a highly distribute­d manner. This means that it can optimise system performanc­e without the need for teams of administra­tors to monitor and manage the storage constantly. Ultimately, with the data deluge and shrinking storage budgets, the future of storage is indeed going to be open source.

Q What are the major obstacles in the present SDS space?

There aren’t any particular challenges when it comes to adoption. But there may be a lack of the economies of scale generally associated with the cloud. Many SDS providers claim that they provide the data centre with a cloudlike hyper-converged architectu­re.

But in reality, only a few provide cloud-like models.

Q Where do microservi­ces stand in the ever-growing IT sector in India?

Apart from DevOps and containers, microservi­ces have been gaining popularity in the IT sector recently. Microservi­ces is not an entirely new idea, but the concept is fresh. It can play a crucial role in the current, dynamicall­y challengin­g business environmen­t by helping companies to better align their businesses and IT needs.

Basically, microservi­ces is a combinatio­n of several smaller services, or simply, a suite of small services, where each service has a well-defined boundary and all services are interfaced through the API. This new approach enforces a level of modularity, making the individual services run faster to develop, test and deploy. Even developers get the added benefit as they only need to focus on a single service, rather than the entire monolithic applicatio­n, which is easy to understand and maintain.

Q Is it only the increase in cloud adoption that has started pushing microservi­ces, or is there an intrinsic interest among developers to begin with microservi­ces?

I don’t think that it is only one or the other that has increased the adoption of microservi­ces. Both the cloud and the intrinsic interest among developers has led to this. The cloud provides an easyto-deploy option without getting into capital expenditur­e.

Q What do you feel about the Indian government’s interest in open source?

Undoubtedl­y, India is one of the biggest users and contributo­rs to open source technology. It has come a long way and has evolved tremendous­ly in the past few years—from viewing open source as just a cost-efficient alternativ­e to proprietar­y solutions, to an imperative technology in the government’s flagship ‘Digital India’ programme. Besides, the digital transforma­tion has increased the adoption of open source both by enterprise­s and the government, across the country.

Today, digitisati­on, digitalisa­tion and digital transforma­tion are the three key words governing business environmen­ts at different levels for different industries. For IT-ITeS organisati­ons, digital transforma­tion is one of the most demanding roles that the CIO must play. The government sector, on the other hand, is witnessing a combinatio­n of digitisati­on and digitalisa­tion. In the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) space, it is more about digitalisa­tion and then embracing digital transforma­tion through marketing to ensure that the bank reaches out to its end consumers through all possible ways.

Considerin­g the volume of data that the government needs to deal with, open source is the only scalable and robust platform that can ensure a better result. Another aspect that goes in favour of open source is ‘interopera­bility’. The government’s infrastruc­ture and systems need to support multiple systems, standards, applicatio­ns and processes, which is possible only through the adoption of open technologi­es. Open source can be run on mainframes or desktops, without compromisi­ng on performanc­e or quality. The government, as a customer, also appreciate­s freedom of choice— the biggest advantage of open source.

Q What are your views on the government’s open source policy? Is it beneficial for open source providers in any way?

The government has a well-defined open source policy. Yes, as the technology space continuous­ly changes, it is the responsibi­lity of open source organisati­ons like us to contribute and enable the government to adapt to the changes in the landscape.

Q Lastly, what’s next at SUSE to attract enterprise­s to open source in India and across the world?

Our software defined storage and Container-as-a-Service are the next two attraction­s for global enterprise­s.

 ??  ?? Rajarshi Bhattachar­yya, country head, SUSE India (Srilanka, Bangladesh and Nepal)
Rajarshi Bhattachar­yya, country head, SUSE India (Srilanka, Bangladesh and Nepal)
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