SuSE shifts executives, business structure

In the latest in a series of executive changes at SuSE Linux AG, the German Linux software maker named a new chief executive officer (CEO) Wednesday and unveiled a new business structure.

Gerhard Burtscher, a long-time IT executive who has worked for Texas Instruments Inc., Digital Equipment Corp., MIPS Technologies Inc. and Silicon Graphics Inc. over the last 20 years, will take the helm at SuSE at the end of the week, the company said. He will oversee SuSE as it shifts its business strategy with the creation of five new units that will focus on various segments from government customers to hardware partners.

Burtscher will assume the role that has been temporarily filled by Johannes Nussbickel, chief financial officer at SuSE. Nussbickel took over as CEO of the open-source software maker in July when Roland Dyroff stepped down from the position after eight years. Nussbickel will return to his post managing finance for the company following the executive switch, the company said.

SuSE is now dividing its business into five divisions, with each responsible for managing an individual budget and market segment, according to SuSE. Commenting on SuSE's new business structure, Nussbickel said in a statement that its previous structure had played its course, and that "changes in today's market situation called for changes within that structure."

The company will now include a business unit focused on large corporate enterprises, one on small and medium-sized businesses, one on government and institutional customers, and one that targets "qualified users," including technically skilled private users of its Linux software products. The fifth business unit will work solely with SuSE's industry partners such as hardware and chip makers.

SuSE is one of a few companies selling a distribution of the Linux operating system, mainly to run on large servers. Like its competitors Red Hat Inc. and Turbolinux Inc., the company has gained its greatest inroads into the market for server software due to its deals with IBM Corp.

The company also has working partnerships with Compaq Computer Corp. and Oracle Corp., providing customized versions of SuSE Linux for their products, as well as partnerships with Advanced Micro Devices and Intel.

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