SUSE Manager: Smart Choice for Managing Linux
These days, IT departments manage highly dynamic and heterogeneous networks under constantly changing requirements. One important trend that has helped with the growing complexity is the rise of Software-Defined infrastructures (SDIs). An SDI consists of a single pool of virtual resources that system administrators can manage efficiently and always in the same way, regardless of whether the resources reside on premise, or in the cloud.
SUSE Manager is a powerful tool that brings the promise of SDI to Linux server management. You can use SUSE Manager to manage a diverse pool of Linux systems through a complete lifecycle, including deployment, configuration, auditing, and software management. This blog highlights some of the key benefits of SUSE.
Introducing SUSE Manager
SUSE Manager is a single tool that allows IT staff to provision, configure, manage, and update all the Linux systems on the network in the same way, regardless of how and where they are deployed. From remote installation to cloud orchestration, automatic updates, custom configuration, compliance and security audits, SUSE Manager deftly handles the lifecycle of registered Linux clients.
A clean and efficient web interface (or, if you prefer, an equivalent command line one) provides a single entry point to all management actions, saving time and allowing a single admin to manage a greater share of network resources.
Discovering SUSE Manager
The diversity of Linux systems can add complexity to the management environment. Time spent managing a large, complex Linux estate with dissimilar tools adds significantly to costs. Your IT staff can be much more efficient with a single tool to automate, coordinate, and monitor Linux operations.
SUSE Manager provides unified management of Linux systems regardless of whether the system is running on bare metal, a virtual machine, or a container environment in a server room, private cloud, or public cloud.
SUSE Manager will even manage Linux systems running on IoT devices, including legacy devices where agents cannot be installed. The ZeroMQ protocol provides parallel communication with client systems, which scales much more efficiently than alternatives that talk to each client one at a time.
SUSE Manager is tightly integrated with SUSE Linux Enterprise, and you can also use SUSE Manager to administer Red Hat, CentOS, OEL, and other RPM-based systems. The SUSE Manager client side agent is written in Python and is therefore quite portable. Accompanying APIs allow easy integration with third party tools.
SUSE Manager consolidates all the following management tasks into a single tool:
- deployment – declare how many Linux systems you need and what you need them for, and SUSE Manager does the rest. Admins can build their own ISO images for bare metal, containers, or VMs, using either AutoYaST or Kickstart, and installation can be in attended or fully unattended fashion. Integration with the Cobbler integration server allows efficient deployment using PXE (Pre-Execution Environment).
- software updates – SUSE Manager automates software updates for whole systems or individual packages. A powerful security system guarantees that every package is centrally authorized. You can schedule and execute multiple software updates at once, using one command.
- configuration management – SUSE Manager supports file-based configuration, as well as state-based configuration management using Salt. The configuration and provisioning tools included with SUSE Manager enable you to define system prototypes, then adapt prototype definitions for easy automation and complex environments.
- security – SUSE Manager supports automatic, system-wide configuration and vulnerability scans, using either CVE lists or the OpenSCAP protocol.
- Compliance monitoring – SUSE Manager creates a unified inventory of all systems within the organization, reporting (Figure 1) on any deviation from configuration or security requirements and eliminating “shadow IT” activities from uncontrolled or undocumented systems.
An intuitive GUI interface offers a complete view of the network at a glance, including features like “Formulas with Forms” (Figure 2), that make SUSE Manager the ideal tool for consistent, highly efficient management of hundreds or thousands of servers. Expert Linux and Unix admins who prefer to work at the command line will find a rich set of text-based commands. The SUSE command-line tool “spacecmd” makes it easy to integrate SUSE Manager functions into admin scripts and homegrown utilities, and SUSE Manager is ready for Nagios-compatible monitoring with Icinga.
A sensible security system enables you to distribute Linux administration work among the staff, according to each employees skills and responsibilities. The main administrator of a SUSE Manager server can delegate operations to users at different levels, creating accounts for tasks such as key activation, images, configuration, and software distribution.
The Open Source Edge
A fully open source development model improves code quality and prevents vendor lock-in. The upstream project for SUSE Manager, Uyuni, is 100% Open Source. The software, whose architecture is shown in Figure 3, is developed in the open, on GitHub, with frequent releases and solid, automated testing. Although Uyuni is not commercially supported by SUSE and does not receive the same rigid QA and product lifecycle guarantees, it is not stripped down in any way. Unlike other vendors, whose commercial products heavily rely on extra features non available in the basic, open source version, SUSE keeps the same, full feature set available in both the community-based and subscription-based variants.
Adopting SUSE Manager, or migrating to it, does not even mean that you should necessarily, abruptly renounce to your previous configuration management systems. For instance, SUSE Manager may can act as an External Node Qualifier (i.e. configuration database) for Puppet or Chef.
Salt on the Inside
SUSE supports the powerful Salt configuration management system. Salt is state-based. A client agent, known as a Salt “minion” can find the Salt master without the need for additional configuration (Figure 4). If the client does not have an agent, Salt is capable of acting in “agentless” mode, sending Salt-equivalent commands through an SSH connection. The ability to operate in agent or agentless mode is an important benefit for a diverse network.
SUSE Manager extends the automatic configuration capabilities of Salt through its support for Action Chains. Action chains are sequences of actions that are executed as if they were a single command. An action chain makes it possible to use a single command to specify a complex task that consists of several steps. Examples of chainable actions include rebooting the system (even in between other configuration steps of the same system!), installing or updating software packages, and building system images.
Lean more about SUSE Manager: