November 15, 2023

SUSE CTO talks about OpenELA and how to maintain customer trust

Ignore CentOS end of support? A few more years of support… for a fee

SUSE Linux Migration

SUSE demonstrates a serious commitment to Linux in the enterprise sector, enough to defy Red Hat's disappointment with the initiative OpenELA and offering support to users of CentOS, the operating system nearing the end of its life cycle.

Despite the company's efforts to promote updates to Rancher, the focus is on the Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA). Thomas Di Giacomo, CTO of SUSE, speaking at the Kubecon North America event, explained the reasoning behind this move: "We believe in open source and the availability of software for all. We could have done it ourselves, we know how to handle Enterprise Linux… But from the beginning, we wanted more than just one company."

SUSE is one of the three main companies, along with CIQ and Oracle, behind OpenELA. This association was born after Red Hat's decision to limit access to the source code. (which we talked about here Red Hat deals a major blow to downstream versions of RHEL )

"OpenELA does not provide the binary, but the source code. You still have to download and build your own Linux – customize your Linux…” explains Di Giacomo.


The trio represents an unusual combination. SUSE, a veteran in selling Linux, has gone through several changes in recent years. Di Giacomo announced that the company will return completely private in the next two weeks.

CIQ and its Rocky Linux distribution emerged after Red Hat's decision to drop CentOS in favor of CentOS Stream. Oracle, however, finds itself in an unusual position as a defender of Linux, despite some less friendly licensing practices for other products.

Di Giacomo states:

It's working well. The main motivation is the same: to provide the source code to everyone. OpenELA does not provide the binary; provides the source code. Oracle will take the source code from OpenELA to create Oracle Linux. CIQ for Rocky, potentially. SUSE will use it to create SUSE Liberty distributions…

But doesn't this waste SUSE's resources? Di Giacomo doesn't think so. The company is adding enterprise support options for CentOS 7, which is nearing the end of support. "The reality is that the CentOS ecosystem dominates the world. We have customers and communities that will be in a difficult situation in 2024. And we can help… we are helping the community and customers with CentOS 7. We can provide patches and security fixes."

Their altruism has limits. While CIQ recently announced a collaboration with Google Cloud to migrate CentOS "orphans" to Rocky Linux, SUSE will continue to support CentOS 7 installations for a fee.

Di Giacomo did not specify how long the support will continue. “We can do this for many years. We need to finalize this, but at least two or three years to give people time to decide. Businesses have businesses to run and shouldn't have to make those decisions."

While the 2024 end of support date has been known for some time, a well-managed IT department should have plans to address it. And the cost? Di Giacomo says: “To be determined… but tomorrow they won't be able to get what they used to get for free.” He said, however, that prices will not be so high as to make a switch to SLES a better bet.

We asked Red Hat for its opinion on all this and will update if the company responds.

Di Giacomo notes that while much of today's innovations are rooted in open source, “The business model side is very different.” Talking about startups and changes in licensing, he says: “I can understand why some of them do what they do. They have to survive, pay people, give back to VCs [venture capitalists]. Not a good time… except with AI. Then you get more money from VCs! But it's the only way to get money from VCs today!"

Like other tech veterans, Di Giacomo stresses that it's critical to decide on a business plan and monetization strategy early on, rather than waiting to see what happens with adoption and then arbitrarily deciding what might make it into a commercial release and what remain open source.

He states: “You have to think about it from day one. Not at the end of the process."

No company is prevented from changing licenses, but Di Giacomo warns that we must be careful not to run into potential pitfalls: “You lose customer trust, potentially the community, and you lose adoption, leaving you with nothing."

"And the beauty of open source is that if the community or customers don't like it, they can fork it and do something else."

CentOS support and migration to updated versions of RHEL, AlmaLinux, RockyLinux or SUSE

As highlighted by SUSE CEO Thomas Di Giacomo, CentOS 2024 will reach end of life (EOL) at the end of 7. This poses a critical deadline for users: within six months of that date, it will be essential to upgrade to compatible distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), AlmaLinux, RockyLinux, or SUSE.


Our company, specialized in Linux system assistance, is ready to guide you in this critical process. Thanks to our specific expertise on Linux CentOS, we are able to support you in upgrading to new versions. Our approach ensures an easy, fast and economical upgrade process, minimizing or completely eliminating downtime.

If you want to ensure a smooth transition to a new and more advanced Linux distribution, please contact us. Our team of experts is at your disposal to advise you on the solution best suited to your needs and to guide you through every step of the migration process. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you navigate this important transition with confidence and efficiency.

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