Open source software provider SUSE is acquiring Rancher Labs, one of the first companies offering a commercial cloud native platform, building on the then-new Docker container technology. The companies did not disclose the value of the transaction, which is expected to close in October. Rancher will continue to operate as an independent company until then, after which the product line will be offered by SUSE sales teams worldwide.
The purchase is the first in what SUSE executives call an “inorganic growth strategy” for the company, which was spun off from Micro Focus in 2019 as an independent company. It plans to continue on its trajectory of serving the enterprise by continuing to build out its open source software portfolio.
The purchase will also help SUSE gain a firmer toehold in Kubernetes marketplace. A recent survey from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation found that 16% of Kubernetes users deployed Rancher software, with only AWS, Google and Azure garnering a larger user base. The survey also found that 10 of 1,197 Kubernetes users deployed SUSE software to manage containers, with 2 of those 10 users also deployed Rancher Kubernetes or the Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE).
“SUSE’s strong ecosystem will greatly accelerate Rancher’s on-going efforts to transform how organizations adopt cloud native technology,” said Rancher CEO Sheng Liang in a blog post announcing the acquisition. Liang will stay on to lead the SUSE’s engineering and innovation initiatives.
Launched in 2014, Rancher was one of the first companies to offer a commercial container-based platform, by way of an open source business model funded by enterprise-grade support subscriptions. Growth of the company comes largely through grassroots marketing efforts. Based in Cupertino, Calif., Rancher is a privately held open source company.
Today, the company offers a number of different supported software packages, including its namesake managed Kubernetes service, the RKE containerized Kubernetes distribution, Longhorn Kubernetes block storage software, and the lightweight K3s Kubernetes distribution.
Founded in 1994, SUSE was the first commercial Linux provider and has since built out a portfolio of enterprise and Internet-of-Things (IoT)-focused open source technologies around SUSE Enterprise Linux and OpenSUSE distributions. In 2018, SUSE released its own Kubernetes distribution aimed at developers, through the incorporation of the Cloud Foundry PaaS software.
Since IBM acquired Red Hat in 2018, SUSE now claims to be the world’s largest independent open source company. The company reported a 30% year over year growth, and global cloud revenue 70% year over year, for its second fiscal quarter of 2020 (ending April 30).
“Only the combination of SUSE and Rancher will have the depth of a globally supported and 100% true open source portfolio, including cloud native technologies,” boasted SUSE CEO Melissa Di Donato, in a statement.
The New Stack Analyst Lawrence Hecht contributed to this post.
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