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Our goal is to provide a single OS that can be also tweaked and tuned to specific use cases, from edge to cloud, to small devices, different hardware architecture – Dr Thomas Di Giacomo

This week SUSE announced the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 2, which comes with many new features and support for new hardware. We sat down with Dr Thomas Di Giacomo for an exclusive interview to learn more about the new release.

Here is the full transcription of the interview

Swapnil Bhartiya: What role is SLE playing in SUSE’s cloud strategy? Where does it fit?
Dr Thomas Di Giacomo: SLE is key for SUSE obviously, but I think it’s key as well for the solutions that our customers and partners need whether focusing on public cloud, on prem, edge or hybrid environment. It’s actually at the core, the foundation of pretty much every stack. People say that containers are Linux; they are. So you need a Linux OS that is well designed for multi-cloud type of environments and optimized for providing the base component for containers and application.

It’s also a key part for edge. If you look at edge, we’ve made a lot of improvements to Linux for edge use cases, and it will combine very nicely with cloud native technologies that are very well appropriate for edge as well, with thousands and thousands of devices that you actually need to manage.

In a nutshell, Linux is key for everything, basically.

Swapnil Bhartiya: SLES has a modular architecture which means users don’t have to deploy a monolithic OS, they can run the version they need. If you look at the edge use case and from the point of view of SLE 15 Service Pack 2, what is there for edge use cases in this release?
Dr Thomas Di Giacomo: As you mentioned, the architecture of SLES is quite modular, so you don’t have to deploy the full fledged, very heavy Linux.

You could almost start with the kernel basically and a few libraries or a few user space specific modules for your use case. Depending on the size of your edge – some people think of Edge as end devices, small devices; Raspberry Pi type of things. Other think of edge as data center in a way as well, a small one, but still a data center.

Depending on your use case you can benefit from SLES, optimized for your needs. Having the same code base allows you to manage it the same way;  you benefit from the same certifications, security patches, upgrades, support and all of that, but specifically targeted for your use case.

It’s same for public cloud where the images are designed and optimized for public cloud. Think of Azure, for instance, where we have an optimized kernel tuned for Azure infrastructure. Our goal is to provide a single OS that can be also tweaked and tuned to specific use cases, from edge to cloud, to small devices, different hardware architecture.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You are right, edge is not just about those tiny devices. It’s also about edge data centers located at remote locations. And one of the big challenge is maintenance those edge cases where you cannot send out your team all the times. That’s where tools like SUSE Manager play a critical role.

Dr Thomas Di Giacomo: A great question, Swapnil. So the SUSE Manager is an infrastructure management, configuration management tool and it’s actually enabling you to manage bare metal, virtual machines, containers, Linux … not only SUSE Linux, by the way.

The latest release of SUSE Manager v4.1, we can manage other Linux distributions like Oracle Linux or Micro Focus, Open Enterprise, Linux, Ubuntu and other ones. And as you mentioned, it’s very important for those edge use cases that you can do that without having physical access, right? Because not only during pandemic, there’s no way that you go and fix and upgrade every time there’s something to be updated, you have hundreds or thousands of devices and small data centers across the globe.

There’s another very important aspect, is that sometimes connectivity is not guaranteed. Sometimes you’re in very isolated locations where SUSE Manager and SLES can be deployed and managed offline over wifi. We have a lot of new air gap functionality in this latest release of SUSE Manager.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Let’s talk about SLES, again. What are new hardware supports you are adding there?
Dr Thomas Di Giacomo: We are adding support for new ARM-based chip sets, so for instance, the new Fujitsu A64FX chip set is now supported on SLES. Intel CPU is also the latest AMD EPYC chip sets are coming. We had some already before, but we’re constantly increasing supported chip sets. And not only to make sure that it works well together, but that we’re optimizing our Linux distribution for them as well. So they are the main ones with SLES 15 Service Pack 2.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Oh, when we talk about SUSE, I cannot stop thinking about talking about SAP. I just had a great discussion with Dan last week. So what are the … is there anything new for SAP HANA in this release?
Dr Thomas Di Giacomo: SLES is a great, the best Linux for SAP workloads and HANA and other SAP workloads in the cloud, not in the cloud. So we’re not just sitting on that, we keep on improving and optimizing. So with SLES 15 Service Pack 2, for instance, we’re bringing new ways to monitor the high availability setup, so the monitoring of it, as well as simplifying the deployment, the installation, the management of SAP workloads on top of SLES. Right? So and that’s true of public cloud or on prem or in mixed setup as well. So it’s with SLES 15 Service Pack 2.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Now before we wrap this up, can you talk about what is the release cadence for these service packs? Do you release it when they’re ready or do you time it so that your users or customers are prepared for these updates? And the last question you can just supplement that one, is that how easy these updates are? Do you also help them as part of the subscription that you sell?
Dr Thomas Di Giacomo: Yeah, very good question. So we moved to a yearly cycle for service packs, so it’s every year. And the odd numbers are actually bringing new features and like Service Pack 2 is coming with new features and consolidation. So we have a clear cadence that our customers are familiar with, and we also help them to do the migration, with SUSE Manager or without SUSE Manager and actually they can skip a service pack as well. So they can go from SP1 to SP3 or two to four, and other scenarios that we are making things easier for upgrades as well.

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