SUSE Linux Enterprise 12: new features and extensions

SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 is available today. And with it SLES 12 brings several significant new features and extensions to the desktop and to the datacenter.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Congratulations are in order for the fine folks at SUSE LLC. Today in Nuremburg, Germany SUSE  announces the availability of SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (SLES 12). SLES 12 is a much-anticipated release due to several improvements. I had the pleasure of speaking with SUSE's George Shi, Product Marketing Manager and Kerry Kim, Director of Strategic Marketing about the release and some of the new features.

We began by talking about the general available release of SLES 12 and the announcement, including the new features and extensions. One in particular struck my fancy: Geo-clustering. Immediately upon hearing the term, you know what it means. It means clustering over distances via WANs or the Internet. I love the idea for its disaster recovery (DR) implications. Using SLES' geo-clustering, you can have automated or manual workloads restarting in another area of the city, country, or world.

When people think of disasters and DR, they typically think earthquake, meteor, terrorist attack, major weather event or something large scale. However, I can tell you that disasters are not always so dramatic. For example, have you ever had your entire datacenter go offline due to a fiber cut? It happens. It seems like during the 1990s and early 2000s it happened a lot. I recall several major cuts that caused outages that lasted for hours and diminished response times for days. Disasters don't always have to be of biblical proportion to be significant.

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Please note that SLES geo-clustering is a separate subscription service (cost), but I think it's well worth it.

During our discussion, my mind drifted (surprise!) to the adjacent topic of Watson computing. Yes, IBM's Watson. It's not really that much of a stretch considering that we touched on the topic of SUSE's partnership with IBM, System z, and IBM POWER8-based systems. I wondered about Watson's anatomy. As it turns out, SUSE's blood runs through Watson's veins and arteries.

That bit of info shouldn't surprise me because of the history with these two enterprise giants. Still, it's cool to know for sure.

The difference between SUSE and other so-called enterprise-grade Linux systems is that SUSE has true enterprise experience and works closely with partners, vendors, and customers on creating solutions and bringing SUSE Linux into their business models.

SLES 12 follows that same pattern of enterprise-oriented, business-focused support and performance. SLES 12 leads the way with its new innovations, extensions, and features.

New operating systems and software extensions based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 include:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for x86_64, IBM Power Systems and IBM System z - versatile server operating systems for delivering business-critical IT services in a variety of physical, virtual and cloud environments. New features like full-system rollback, live kernel patching enablement and software modules increase datacenter uptime, improve operational efficiency and accelerate the adoption of open source innovation. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server takes advantage of IBM POWER8 processor-based hardware optimizations that include support for little-endian Linux applications running on simultaneous multithreaded (SMT8) and PowerKVM environments. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z improves workload performance through support for dasdfmt, multiple netiucv paths and compression-optimized zlib libraries.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension and Geo Clustering for SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension – clustering software for increasing services availability, physical and virtual, local and global. A new web console, updated OCFS2 and GFS2 file system support, and the latest updates in ReaR for disaster recovery make protecting core business systems quick and easy.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack – for boosting Windows virtual machine performance on Linux hosts. It now supports a wider variety of Windows operating systems, such as Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and SUSE Linux Enterprise Workstation Extension – for improving productivity while lowering costs and increasing security. Users can turn servers into full-featured development or administrator workstation environments.

I'm especially excited about SUSE's Desktop Linux work. Some writers and technical experts call SUSE Linux the ultimate desktop or the perfect desktop system. I used SUSE from its early beginnings as a desktop operating system. I've always enjoyed it as a server because I find that it requires less fiddling than other distributions. I've never had issues with software dependencies nor have I spent hours upon hours trying to get something like networking to work on SLES. Not exactly so with other distros.

I have sung the praises of Ubuntu and Debian-based systems in the past as workstations and servers, but as Kerry succinctly pointed out in our conversation, "...those aren't enterprise distributions." SUSE folks don't even consider them to be competitors in their space.

SUSE Linux runs some of the most mission-critical workloads in the world, such as SAP, CRM, ERP, databases, and my personal favorite, Watson. 

I suggest that you connect with SUSE and check out SLES 12 for yourself and then let me know what you think.

About SUSE
SUSE, a pioneer in open source software, provides reliable, interoperable Linux and cloud infrastructure solutions that give enterprises greater control and flexibility. More than 20 years of engineering excellence, exceptional service and an unrivaled partner ecosystem power the products and support that help our customers manage complexity, reduce cost, and confidently deliver mission-critical services.

The lasting relationships we build allow us to adapt and deliver the smarter innovation they need to succeed – today and tomorrow. For more information, visit www.suse.com.

Thanks to Adam Novak, Account Manager at PAN Communications for connecting me with SUSE for this announcement.

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