SUSE Rancher for IBM Z and LinuxONE is available!

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Today, SUSE has added IBM Z and LinuxONE support for several SUSE Rancher products – Rancher Manager, RKE2, K3s and Longhorn.  Read on if you would like a little more information about each of these products.

Rancher Manager is undoubtedly the most important product.  With Rancher Manager it is easy to run Kubernetes everywhere.  Learning how to manage Kubernetes can be difficult. The Rancher Manager web UI makes centrally managing multiple Kubernetes clusters much easier than having to use the command line to manage each Kubernetes cluster separately.  Rancher Manager 2.6.4 includes support to manage any CNCF-certified s390x Kubernetes cluster which includes RKE2 and K3s.  s390x is the architecture designation for IBM Z and LinuxONE servers.  The validated features for the initial s390x support in Rancher Manager include Rancher Server, Rancher Agent, Kubernetes Fleet operations, Helm chart catalog and backup/restore operations.  As newer Rancher Manager versions are released, monitoring, logging alerting and CIS scans for s390x Kubernetes deployments will be added.

RKE2, also known as Rancher Kubernetes Engine version 2, is Rancher’s next-generation Kubernetes distribution.  Like RKE1, RKE2 inherits close alignment with upstream Kubernetes.  Available RKE2 versions for s390x include 1.21.12, 1.22.9, 1.23.6 which match the upstream Kubernetes releases at the time of this blog.  What makes RKE2 different is that it launches control plane components as static pods, managed by the kubelet, with the embedded container runtime being containerd.  RKE2 for s390x supports Canal as the Container Network Interface (CNI) and NGINX as the ingress controller. Support for additional CNIs and ingress controllers for s390x are being planned.

K3s is a fully compliant Kubernetes distribution but packaged in a single binary.  It is focused on providing a lightweight Kubernetes option that is easy to install using half the memory and in a binary that is less than 100MB.  It is marketed as Kubernetes for edge deployments but many of the characteristics that make K3s great for edge also apply to deployments on s390x.  Lower memory and processor usage allowing more of the system to be used for real work are key reasons why K3s is available for s390x.  K3s follows the Kubernetes versioning standard with 1.22.9 and 1.23.6 as available versions for s390x.  Today, the supported CNI is flannel with Traefik as the supported ingress controller.

Longhorn is a lightweight, reliable, and powerful Container Storage Interface (CSI) option that provides distributed block storage system for Kubernetes.  It implements distributed block storage using containers and microservices by creating a dedicated storage controller for each block device volume which is orchestrated using Kubernetes.  Longhorn also synchronously replicates the volume across multiple replicas stored on multiple Kubernetes nodes.  Longhorn for s390x can use DASD and fibre channel attached storage as block devices. Version 1.3.0 includes support for s390x.

This Rancher for IBM Z and LinuxONE release is a foundational release.  As the foundational release, it has been built to continue enabling and validating capabilities that were not part of this release. Keeping the installation as easy as Rancher on other architectures and allowing Rancher to be installed on any IBM supported enterprise Linux for IBM Z and LinuxONE were key imperatives for this foundational release.

In summary, customers and partners can begin installing Rancher for s390x.  I encourage you to review the Rancher documentation to get started.  You can also watch the YouTube videos which show the installation of Rancher on s390x.  Lastly, register for free to SUSECON Digital 2022 and checkout the SUSE Rancher on IBM Z and LinuxONE – First hand experiences from early adopter testing [CUST-1137] session.  The first showing of the session is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30pm – 7:30pm BST/1:30pm – 2:30pm EDT.

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Michael Friesenegger
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Michael Friesenegger

Mike is a solutions architect in the SUSE Global Customer Organization. He works with the global IBM Alliance and closely with many groups in IBM to identify, test and document joint solutions that help SUSE and IBM create unique value in the marketplace. His specialties include IBM Z, LinuxONE and Power Systems, Real Time Linux, High Availability and as a SUSE SAP Champion focused on SAP solutions using SUSE technologies.