When SUSE, the world’s largest independent open source company, announced its acquisition of Rancher Labs in early July 2020, the industry took notice. Clearly, the Kubernetes management industry is very much alive. But, the merger also raised the question of what this means for users? After all, a key value proposition of cloud native technologies, like SUSE, is that they are modular, interoperable, and flexible.

What’s at stake from consolidation?

Are we experiencing a paradigm shift? Certainly, we’ve witnessed a change in enterprise technology as all-in-one solutions — like those from Microsoft, Oracle, or IBM — that lock companies in are being increasingly sidelined in favor of modular, flexible, IT systems bundled together by interoperable cloud native modules (in a tech-agnostic way such as Rancher or Kublr).

Although cloud native can increase implementation complexity, it offers unprecedented flexibility. This flexibility allows businesses to quickly adapt to future needs, without being locked into those all-in-one solutions.

But industry consolidation puts this flexibility at risk. Platforms that have embraced an agnostic approach are being absorbed by more traditional IT business models. This negates the very benefit of cloud native. Although these acquirers may promise that nothing will change, history usually proves them wrong. They expect a return on their investment, and this means leveraging their association with cloud native to sell more of their own solutions.

How will the newly joined forces of SUSE and Rancher play out? Rancher users may find themselves tied to a certain operating system, as Red Hat users are. Furthermore, SUSE’s CaaS and App platforms only run SUSE products. Will SUSE keep its cloud native promise? We’ll have to see.

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Is the Cloud Native Promise Under Threat from Consolidation?
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