How SuSE Carries Its Big Stick - page 2
Laying out SuSE's business plan
But SuSE has big plans for this part of its business, as Hohndel indicated that by the end of 2001, the company hopes to have 50 percent of its services revenue coming in from enterprise-level relationships.
Hohndel related SuSE's basic strategy for attaining this goal--a strategy he is as confident about as his company's products themselves.
Once SuSE has made initial contact with a customer, it does not go after the huge partnership deals right at the start. Instead, the Linux software company gains the confidence of the new customer by using its operating system and other software technology to perform what might be a trivial task, such as a two man-week project.
This kind of work may seem trivial to some, but when SuSE finishes the job and exceeds the customer's expectations, SuSE has gained the customer's trust.
"This has worked exceptionally well for us," Hohndel said.
Another proven technique SuSE has developed is the targeting of traditional brick-and-mortar corporations, such as SAP, Deutsche Telecom, and Daimler-Chrysler. This is in contrast to other Linux distributors, Hohndel explained, which often seem to target dot.com firms.
Still, SuSE has some hurdles to overcome when dealing with the U.S. market, even in its software offerings. Hohndel cited the widespread use of KDE in Europe, compared to its low usage here in the United States. The exact opposite situation exists with the proliferation of GNOME: high use in the U.S., virtually unused in Europe. This is a curious situation, in Hohndel's opinion, given the ergonomic "principle of least surprises." Such a principle would suggest that former users of Windows would be more happy with KDE's look and feel over GNOME's.
Hohndel is ready to meet the demands of the U.S. market, and thinks the Feb. 12 release of SuSE 7.1 will help the company make even larger inroads here. He is also encouraged by the tone of the conference itself. "It's much more about business," he commented.
Hohndel also pointed to the recent downturn of the American economy as a positive sign for Linux.
In the past, he explained, there was huge hype about technologies such as object-oriented programming and artificial intelligence--hype that drove up the stock prices of any company related to these areas. But, once the stock market bubbles burst for each of these waves of hype, the technologies were each in turn brought down to a very subdued level.
Now that recent events have seen a financial downturn for the Linux wave of hype, Hohndel explained, he is very encouraged by the fact that Linux has not gone away and that customer interest in Linux is going up. This, to him, is a sure sign that Linux is not just a fair-weather technology subject to the whims of financial and corporate hype.
"Unlike those other technologies," Hohndel stated, "Linux remains."