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Another factor that is going to pinch IBM here: they're getting hit from the other side with professional services firms (McKinsey, Big Four, Booz Allen, etc.) now jumping into cloud implementation work. Also smaller but legitimate technical firms like Pivotal who capitalized on IBM dragging their feet in this marketplace.

So, if IBM's strength was "we can do services from anywhere," that gets busted by the rest of these players who can now compete at the same logistical level. And if they aren't hiring the best engineers, they're going to get slammed by Microsoft who will pay top dollar for them.

Doubly so because their investment into RHEL legitimizes the technology for anyone still so conservative as to be unsure. Well if _IBM_ says it's legitimate, it must be so. But really once that barrier to entry is gone (as you said) anyone with enough credibility can sell the tech because it's open source. Arguably unsure people may want to buy Red Hat for support but they'll quickly find it's available elsewhere cheaper and possibly not needed at all.

The support from somewhere else raises the question of from where?

Which raise the risk that IBM could kill CentOS. Once done, there is no choice for company but to pay for RedHat or migrate to Debian.

This makes the openSUSE Leap -> SUSE Linux Enterprise supported upgrade strategy interesting, because if someone started out with openSUSE Leap 15.0, they can trivially attach a SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 subscription to it and convert the system, and remain fully supported by SUSE in the process.

So with that available, if SUSE isn't completely stupid on how to go to market, they'll actually figure out a way to capitalize on that.

Using SUSE in 2018? I don't want to be unfair to SUSE but I would probably put that in the abandoned OS along Solaris, HP and a few other I forgot the name.

They can't kill CentOS. It was an independent project for a long time, and it can go back to being independent. Worst thing they can do is delay the next release and force them to change their name.

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