SUSE Expands Kubernetes Footprint with Rancher Labs Acquisition

SUSE, the open source software company behind the SUSE Linux distribution, has agreed to acquire Rancher Labs, an enterprise Kubernetes management platform provider, the two companies announced this week. German-based SUSE will acquire Cupertino, Calif.-based Rancher for an undisclosed amount.

The acquisition of Rancher is the first step in what SUSE calls its "inorganic growth strategy" since effectively becoming an independent software company last year. SUSE was founded in 1992 and then operated under several owners over the years, including Novell and Micro Focus. In March 2019, Swedish private equity firm EQT bought SUSE from Micro Focus. Last year, former Salesforce and SAP executive Melissa Di Donato replaced Nils Brauckmann as SUSE's CEO.

"Our vision to enable better futures and measurable value for our customers and partners is what guides our decisions and drives our growth," Di Donato said in a statement. "This acquisition enhances our ability to offer a more comprehensive portfolio, greater customer choice and no vendor lock-in. It will also enable us to play an even more strategic role with cloud service providers, independent hardware vendors, systems integrators and value-added resellers who are eager to provide greater customer experiences."

SUSE's product portfolio includes SUSE Linux Enterprise, SUSE Manager, SUSE Enterprise Storage (based on Ceph), SUSE CaaS Platform (based on Kubernetes) and SUSE Cloud Application Platform (based on Cloud Foundry).

Rancher was founded in 2014 focused on solutions for dev teams building applications using containers, then a relatively new technology. The company adopted Kubernetes in 2016 and now provides a complete software stack for teams adopting containers, and delivers Kubernetes-as-a-Service. Rancher's infrastructure-agnostic architecture supports any Cloud Native Computing Foundation-certified Kubernetes distribution, including Google GKE, Amazon EKS and Microsoft AKS, as well as projects like Gardener.

"Rancher is the most widely used enterprise Kubernetes platform," said Rancher Labs CEO Sheng Liang in a blog post announcing the deal. "SUSE is the largest independent open source software company and a leader in enterprise Linux. By combining Rancher and SUSE, we not only gain massive engineering resources to further strengthen our market-leading product, we are also able to preserve our unique 100% open source business model."

After the acquisition closes later this year, Liang will lead the combined engineering and innovation organization at SUSE.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].