With the completion of its Novell acquisition, Attachmate has sent SUSE Linux back to its obscure German roots.
Attachmate installed a veteran executive with experience in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Nils Brauckmann (right), at SUSE, and sent the whole group back to Nuremberg, where it was formerly based.
Adam Zelchick of SDTimes sees the hand of Microsoft behind all this, writing that “Microsoft doesn’t like the idea of .NET applications running on anything except Windows.”
If there is some dark design here, it's probably aimed at cutting off MonoTouch for the iPhone and MonoDroid for the Android platform. These are highly competitive markets where Microsoft needs the absolute loyalty of its developers to have any chance of gaining market traction. The company is betting Miguel deIcaza is too prickly to draw a true entrepreneur to his Xamarin start-up who can jump-start those aspects of Mono (or draw any venture capital, once people look at what's other Mono's NDAs.)
To that extent it's a “great game” move, but aimed solely at the mobile market. The game is over in Web servers, where a duopoly exists between Windows and Linux.
So what happens now? Brauckman is a sales-oriented executive focused on Attachmate's bottom line. LinuxTweaking is probably right that he will try to turn openSUSE into a mere "community" (crippled) version of SUSE Enterprise, in order to extract support payments from users. Beyond that SUSE is going to focus its efforts outside the U.S. Development will probably accelerate in “secondary” languages, where Ubuntu is the main competition. (Ubuntu as a competitor limits what Brauckmann can do against openSUSE.) Good for RedHat, but for all the sturm and drang Novell delivered while it had SUSE, SUSE never gained much traction here so there's nothing lost.
One other point, which I was given while over in Germany last year. There are strong connections between the SUSE development team and the folks over at VMWare, which also has a major German presence. If Microsoft moved Novell to Attachmate it wasn't to checkmate Mono, but VMWare. But buying a company doesn't give you the loyalty of its developers. VMWare may still have opportunities here.
So watch the German press closely in the next few months to see what those developers do and where they go.