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Linux faithful like idea of easy SUSE AWS deployment

Automated build-out and deployment of custom SUSE Linux on Amazon Web Services is winning combo, users say.

BOSTON -- The prospect of easy deployment of custom SUSE Linux Enterprise instances to Amazon's Compute Cloud is attractive to many in the Linux community.

This week, Novell execs said customers will soon be able to use SUSE Studio to preconfigure, customize and size their SUSE Linux Enterprise instances, and easily deploy them via Amazon Web Services. Users would then pay for the resources used by the hour.

Gregg Rosenberg, for one, is sold. Rosenberg, CEO of Ricis Inc., a Tinley Park, Ill.-based VAR with a strong Linux practice, has been testing out the system for months.

“It works amazingly well; in fact it’s kind of scary automated,” Rosenberg said. “Not only can you rapidly deploy a standard LAMP platform, but they let you hook in scripts so you can customize the first boot or the functionality of the server. It’s absolutely gorgeous,” he noted.

Developers can also use SUSE Studio for other deployment models. It can be used to build standard VMDK files for VMware or standalone bootable DVDs, Rosenberg said.

Novell execs touted the capabilities -- and the fact that Amazon Web Services joined the SUSE cloud effort -- at LinuxCon here this week. They said that deploying other Linux variants to Amazon tends to be a kludgey process.

“If you want to deploy Red Hat on Amazon, you have to separately go to Red Hat to download what you need, then you have to buy instances on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud and manually create your images. With SUSE, you size your instance with Studio, log into Amazon and fire it up,” said Michael Applebaum, director, Linux and appliances marketing for Novell.

Novell said SUSE Studio can also be used to deploy custom SUSE instances to the IBM and Fujitsu clouds.

Novell may have stolen a lead here, but it needs to. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is seen as the corporate go-to pick among Linux variants. Ubuntu Linux is picking up steam and SUSE Linux usage appears relatively flat. Ubuntu, in particular, has taken hold among developers. Forrester Research numbers show that among Eclipse-focused developers surveyed, Ubuntu saw its share rise to 17% from 14% last year. SUSE Linux remained flat with a 3% share.

Forrester Research principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond said it is fair to say Red Hat is the incumbent power, with Ubuntu gaining momentum and SUSE Linux trying to hold its own.

But Rosenberg said SUSE Linux has its unique strengths. “We’ve uploaded SUSE images and run them for years without crashes. With Red Hat, Ubuntu -- they require some degree of monitoring. SUSE has been the hands-down winner in reliability in terms of Linux platforms,” he said.

With this SUSE-AWS link, he said he can deploy a full SUSE environment, totally customized from provisioning to completion in a few hours.

Rosenberg said customer interest in cloud deployment options is strong. “We get two or three inquiries about AWS a week,” he noted.

Frank Basanta, director of technology for Systems Solutions of New York, said Novell is working hard to make SUSE the easiest to deploy of all the Linux flavors. “They’re trying to Apple-ize it,” he noted.

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