SUSE Manager 4: Traditional server management marries DevOps

The latest SUSE Linux server management program combines the best of older sysadmin approaches with Salt DevOps.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Managing Linux servers has never been easy. Programs like Cockpit, cPanel, and Webmin use a GUI to make it simpler to handle common sysadmin tasks. But, with servers moving from the racks in your server room to the cloud and the edge and the Internet of Things (IoT), we need more. That's where DevOps comes in. And now programs like the new SUSE Manager 4 combine the best of both sysadmin approaches.

Daniel Nelson, SUSE VP of products and solutions, explained in a statement: "SUSE Manager manages physical, virtual, and containerized systems across edge, core, and cloud environments, all from a single centralized console. It's part of the IT transformation that lowers costs, reduces complexity, and boosts business agility."

The latest SUSE Manager, according to leading business Linux distributor SUSE, provides you with a single tool to manage Linux systems across a variety of hardware architectures, hypervisors, as well as container, IoT, and cloud platforms. It does this by automating server and IoT device provisioning, patching, and configuration. This, in turn, gives you faster and more consistent and repeatable server deployment.

This starts with a new front-end: The Content Lifecycle Management (CLM) user interface. This is backed up by improved application programming interfaces (API)s for managing packages, patches, and configurations. With you can move move software packages across multiple stages, such as development, QA, and production, as a simple UI-based task. 

To manager virtual machine (VM)s, SUSE Server 4 incorporates the Salt DevOps functionality. With this, you can manage hundreds of VMs through a SUSE Server interface. Thus, you can provision unattended bare-metal systems via AutoYaST/Kickstart/ PXE booting and virtual guests as easily as physical instances. These new servers can be identical to a running server or be spun up using predefined configuration.

If your new instance doesn't work, you can track server changes and return to a previous version or configuration. So, for example, you can create a Salt state that ensures the same three VMs are created and running on all your retail branch servers. Besides making sysadmin's work easier, this automation also cuts costs. 

To make it easier to manage those servers -- be they physical or virtual -- SUSE Manager 4 uses a Prometheus-based monitoring stack. Prometheus records server data to a time series database. This makes it easier to run both pre-made and ad hoc queries to identify and resolve issues.

That's the good news. The bad news is, if you've already been using earlier versions of SUSE Manager, you'll have to reinstall SUSE Manager 4, which is a major release based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15 Service Pack 1, from scratch. But, while you install it, you can seamlessly sync your existing data from the SUSE Manager 3.2 server.

While SUSE Manager itself runs off SLES 15 SP1, you can use it to manage any Linux server from IoT edge devices to your Kubernetes environment, no matter where it is located -- in your data center, a third party data center, or in the public cloud.

There are two basic types of SUSE Manager Server subscriptions: One, for up to 50 instances; and the other for more than 50 instances. For remote offices, there's SUSE Manager Proxy Server. The proxy server lowers bandwidth needs and provides faster local updates for environments with more than 300 servers or deployments across dispersed geographical locations. For retailers, there's the specialized SUSE Manager for Retail

SUSE Manager 4 is now available, and images are also available on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. 

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