Innovation without Disruption: Introducing SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP4 and Agility

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In a production environment, where applications must be flexible at deployment, running and rolling out times, it is important to consider agility as one of the main points to consider when building or evolving your platform.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a modern, modular operating system for both multimodal and traditional IT. In this article, I’ll provide a high-level overview of features, capabilities and limitations of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP4 and highlight important product updates.SUSE Linux Enterprise Server leverages your workloads to provide security, agility and resiliency to your ecosystem. In this article, I am going to cover agility. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server also now supports KubeVirt. 

Regarding agility, some relevant offerings from SUSE include:

  • Base Container Images (BCI): BCI brings all the SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) experience into container workloads. It builds your applications in a secure, multi-stage and performance environment.
  • Harvester HCI (HyperConverged Infrastructure) (KubeVirt): Harvester is a modern HCI solution that bridges the gap between the HCI software and the cloud-native ecosystem using technologies like Longhorn and KubeVirt to provide storage and virtualization capabilities.  It connects multiple interfaces to the Virtual Machines and provides isolation capabilities to the architecture. With Harvester and Kubernetes, you no longer need to manage traditional HCI infrastructure and cloud-native separately.
  • SUSE Manager HUB: Scale your infrastructure and manage thousands of servers through a hub implementation of SUSE Manager.

Why SLE BCI?

While Alpine is the most used base image, when it comes to an enterprise use case, you should consider more variables before making a choice. Here are some of the reasons why SLE BCI (which I will shorten to simply BCI for now) is potentially a great fit.

  • Maximum security: When it comes to developing applications, the world is moving and working in a cloud native ecosystem because of its emphasis on flexibility, agility and cost effectiveness. However, application security is often an afterthought in the initial stages of developing a new app. If developers do not choose their base image wisely, their application could be affected by security vulnerabilities, or it simply will not pass the required security certifications. When developing the SLE family of products, SUSE worked to ensure they meet the highest levels of security and compliance, including FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard), EAL4+, FSTEC, USG, CIS (Center for Internet Security) and DISA/STIG. All this work flows downstream to SLE BCI, making it one of the industry’s most secure base images for enterprise developers or independent software vendors to leverage.
  • Available images: SUSE provides two sets of images through its registry, the base ones (bci-base, bci-minimal, bci-micro, bci-init) and the language-specific ones (Golang, rust, openJDK, python, ruby, and more).  Check out the registry!
  • Supportability: One of the key factors that made me give BCI a try is the supportability matrix. So far, if I must test my application locally or for a Proof of Concept, I could use an Alpine or a specific language/runtime image. But when it comes to creating an enterprise-grade application, sooner than later, I will need to migrate to a supported one. SUSE fully supports bci-base. Customers with an active subscription agreement can open support cases or request new features through the official channels.Something else that captured my attention: the supportability matrix of BCI has no bounds with the underlying host where the application is running, which allows more flexibility and mixed ecosystems while keeping your application covered by the SUSE support umbrella.

SUSE Manager hub

Ecosystems need to scale as required. Managing servers in a lab is not comparable to managing different production environments where not only is managing servers important, but so is complying with security standards and maintaining health and ensuring compliance.  When it comes to managing an environment, whether it is pure SUSE or a mixed environment, there are some aspects we need to take into consideration:

  • Compliance: through the templates and automation of new deployments, every new element or operating system would ensure that it is following the compliance definition for the ecosystem and the different environments defined.
  • Security: An agile environment requires new features to be tested and new discovered vulnerabilities to be patched. Your ecosystem is as vulnerable as the weakest element you have deployed. With a centralized path, configuration, and package management, you will be aware of the vulnerabilities affecting your entire ecosystem and design the update or deployment strategy.
  • Health: as part of day 2 operations, SUSE Manager centralizes the management of the risk of business disruptions and monitors downtime.
  • Scalability: with new elements coming to the environment, it is also important to manage the infrastructure in a supported, feasible and performant manner. SUSE provides scalability up to 1 million clients in a hub-based architecture. Multiple SUSE Managers can be managed from a single hub node, aggregating clients and attaching them to a specific proxy server that is also managed by its own manager.  This allows you to have a centralized reporting database that is helpful since you do not have to look on each server to get the monitoring of a specific environment or subset of clients. In other words, everything is managed from a centralized hub. This architecture adds some features for complex environments or specific management requirements for compliance.  For example, for multi-tenancy you can use different managers to isolate server configurations. Check out the SUSE Manager product page for more information.
  • Monitoring: Whether SUSE Manager is installed on a hub or standalone, each environment needs to be reported where you can see the relevant information you are looking for in a single glance. Ecosystems need to be agile and adaptable, deploying new servers, decommissioning the ones you no longer need and being aware of new elements added even from various sources. SUSE Manager can deploy multiple probes that you can configure to look after the most critical elements or the most relevant events for you.SUSE Manager uses Prometheus to monitor the elements and Grafana for the dashboards. You are not restricted to what comes with the product; instead, you can create customized dashboards to organize and show that information in a way that is more relevant. In a scenario where the monitoring comes from third-party software, SUSE Manager Monitoring can pull data from a single or multiple external sources and use it.No matter how you evolve your ecosystem, whether you do it through the deployment templates or use external deployers, SUSE Manager, through the Service Discovery features, can look for potential monitoring targets that add dynamic definitions on a living environment.

Trento

SAP environments are complex systems designed to accomplish complex challenges. They consist of several pieces including databases, high availability systems, applications servers and workloads. No matter where you deploy, on premise or in the cloud, all those pieces need to integrate with each other with their own setup processes and configurations. This implies that SAP environments are hard to deploy, configure and manage. Usually, the initial deployment and configuration of SAP requires enterprise admins and third-party integrators to reference SAP notes. It is a time- and resource-consuming task.

SAP setup process consists of several manual steps and configurations to deploy and maintain the software successfully. With so many elements to configure and handle, there are situations where misconfigurations and human errors lead to unexpected downtime.SUSE and SAP have been working together for the last 20 years to build up a stable integration between SAP and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, creating an in-depth operating system designed and certified for running SAP systems, databases and workloads.

Deploying and maintaining SAP environments is not a “fire and forget.” It requires maintenance and monitoring the status of the hosts, systems, databases and high availability pieces. To do that, you have to look for someone who can handle this as it is an extremely specific system. This is where Trento comes to the table. Trento is a containerized solution that provides a single console view to discover and manage all SAP systems components (databases, hosts, HA, databases and HANA Databases). Trento is the way to safeguard SAP ecosystems. The user will be notified when a bad configuration or a missing setup step is detected on any systems, recommendations on reducing time-consuming assets (like performing daily and manual revisions of the systems) or digging into the SAP documentation looking for a specific asset. Trento is the centralized piece of SAP infrastructure where the user can see the status of the ecosystem in a single dashboard, get recommendations on what is the best configuration for a specific environment and ensure the SAP ecosystem is deployed and running following best practices. Leverage SUSE’s expertise with SAP. Within SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, Trento is a first-class citizen that can leverage how well the operating system and the SAP ecosystem work together.

Conclusion

SUSE provides a stack to manage your infrastructure components, with a focus on agility without renouncing stability or security. This stack includes SUSE Manager, BCI images, Trento, and Harvester.  SUSE can manage multi-vendor ecosystems where SYSE systems and other operating systems are managed, patched and analyzed.  SUSE solutions keep your entire environment in compliance with the highest security standards.To learn more, go to Business Critical Linux, SUSE Security, SUSE Linux Enterprise Base Container Images, SUSE Manager, and/or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Thanks for reading!

 

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German M. Yebenes
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German M. Yebenes

Germán is a Technical Marketing Manager at Suse, he works with BCL – Business Critical Linux solutions.
Germán has been in the industry for 15 years serving on a variety roles, most of them related with infrastructure, containers, management and automation.