Frequently Asked Questions about SMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Subscription Management Tool for SUSE Linux Enterprise?

The Subscription Management Tool establishes a proxy system for SUSE Customer Center which allows enterprise customers to optimize the management of SUSE Linux Enterprise software updates and subscription entitlements. The proxy provides repository and registration targets. This helps you centrally manage software updates within the firewall on a per-system basis while maintaining your corporate security policies and regulatory compliance.

The tool allows you to provision updates for all of your devices running a SUSE Linux Enterprise-based product. By downloading these updates only once and distributing them throughout the enterprise, you can set more restrictive firewall policies and, where applicable, avoid significant network usage stemming from repeated downloads of the same updates by each device. The tool is fully supported and available as a download to customers with an active SUSE Linux Enterprise product subscription.

What challenges does the Subscription Management Tool address?

The Subscription Management Tool addresses the following challenges:

  • Firewall policy and regulatory compliance during the software update process
  • Bandwidth requirements during the software update process
  • Automated server entitlement tracking across large server deployments and effective measurement of subscription use. SMT helps you easily determine how many entitlements you need to renew at the end of a billing cycle without having to physically walk through the data center to manually update spreadsheets.
  • Maintaining a fully supported solution to manage SUSE Linux Enterprise subscriptions without losing the existing interface with SUSE Customer Center (SCC). Please see the SCC-SMT Interface FAQs for more detailed information on the technical interface between NCC and SMT

What is new in the Subscription Management Tool as part of the SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 release?

There is no Subscription Management Tool (SMT) 12. However, as part of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 and SUSE Customer Center (SCC) launch, SUSE is providing a maintenance update to Subscription Management Tool for SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3. This maintenance update enables SMT to register SUSE products with SCC and makes possible a smooth migration from NCC to SCC.

With the maintenance update the Subscription Management Tool for SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 uses the new registration protocol SUSE Connect to communicate with SUSE Customer Center.

What does the Subscription Management Tool do?

The Subscription Management Tool informs the SUSE Linux Enterprise devices throughout the network of available software updates. Each device then obtains the required software updates from the tool. The installation of the tool does not alter the current end-user experience and interactions―either within SUSE Customer Center (SCC) or on the local system.

Upon installation, administrator interaction with SCC remains the same (that is, it is currently handled via direct communication with SCC) and administrators continue to access the SCC in the same way to manage subscriptions, monitor usage and process renewals upon expiration. The way you receive notification of SUSE Linux Enterprise software updates and how you choose to install your updates remain unchanged.

The Subscription Management Tool improves the interaction among SUSE Linux Enterprise devices within the network and improves how you receive your system updates. Each instance of the tool can enable an infrastructure for several hundred SUSE Linux Enterprise devices (depending on the specific utilization profile), ensuring more accurate and efficient server tracking. The tool also handles update transactions securely using SSL. Additionally, the tool supports fully disconnected operations at highly secure sites, such as installations at military or other highly classified deployments that are severed from the Internet.

How can I install the Subscription Management Tool for SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3?

There are a several options for installation. You can install SMT along with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 as an add-on to the base product installation or to a later installation. If you want to add the Subscription Management Tool:

  • During the base product installation:
    • Select the "Include Add-On Products from Separate Media" box on the installation mode screen.
    • Depending on your installation, you can add the Subscription Management Tool from CD 1 or from a remote installation source, such as an FTP server, on the next screen.
    • Apply online updates to serve SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 clients or to register in the SCC.
  • After you have installed SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11:
    • Under YaST2, select "Software"–"Add-On Product" and add CD 1 of the Subscription Management Tool or a remote installation SMT source.
    • Follow the installation workflow steps presented.
    • Apply online updates to serve SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 clients or to register in the SCC.

What if I choose not to install the Subscription Management Tool?

Installing the Subscription Management Tool is optional for customers, and although the end-user experience remains the same, it improves the interaction among SUSE Linux Enterprise devices within the network and how they receive their system updates. The default configuration of SUSE Linux Enterprise, without a proxy, requires opening the firewall to an outbound connection for each device that needs to receive an update. This often violates corporate security policies and may be seen as a threat to regulatory compliance by some organizations. Each device receiving updates directly may also cause bandwidth concerns in some large or connectivity-constrained deployments.

How do I obtain the Subscription Management Tool? How much does it cost?

The maintenance update of the Subscription Management Tool is available for download at no extra cost to customers with an active subscription to SUSE Linux Enterprise 11. However, for deployment of your Subscription Management Tool server, you need to have available one server system on x86 or x86-64 architecture running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 or an IBM System z mainframe running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z 11. The Subscription Management Tool is under the GPL V2 license.

Does the Subscription Management Tool scale?

The Subscription Management Tool server can supply updates for up to a thousand SUSE Linux Enterprise devices per server depending on the utilization profile.

How will I manage my subscriptions when using the Subscription Management Tool?

There are no differences in how you manage your subscription with SMT compared to how you manage it with SUSE Customer Center.

What support does the Subscription Management Tool offer for staging?

The Subscription Management Tool offers support for basic staging. Inside the tool, there are three independent sets of repositories. The administrator can manipulate one view while keeping the others untouched and then switch them as needed. One view is a current mirror of the repository; another view can be used for testing available software updates against test devices, before they are made available to other servers; and the third view is for making the validated updates available to all production systems. If you have more extensive or complex staging needs, you should use SUSE Manager.

How can I customize the updates I want to apply to a specific SUSE Linux Enterprise device?

Your ability to select and apply SUSE Linux Enterprise device updates remains the same with the introduction of the Subscription Management Tool. The Subscription Management Tool informs a SUSE Linux Enterprise device about available updates when a device connects to it. You can choose and customize the packages you want to apply during an update. You may want to apply only critical updates.

Also, an administrator can perform local customization by bringing in packages from other sources and making them available in a custom Subscription Management Tool channel. For example, in a desktop deployment at an academic institution, the administrator can provision updates for third-party software (such as MATLAB) via the tool by configuring the server to assign an additional "local maintenance" channel to a registered product. You must package these local updates as RPM files.

What is the Subscription Management support policy?

The Subscription Management Tool is a fully supported SUSE product. Your support rights are defined by your SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support agreement.

What are mirroring credentials and how does the Subscription Management Tool handle them?

Mirroring credentials are specific credentials you can request within your SCC account. They enable a tool to access all of your purchased product updates that fall under each active subscription. Mirroring credentials are designed for use by enterprise management solutions, such as the Subscription Management Tool.

What ports are used by the Subscription Management Tool?

The Subscription Management Tool uses ports 443 and (optionally) 80 on the server side. The client side update stack remains unchanged.

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