Earlier this month SUSE announced the general availability of SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, Service Pack 3 -- their operating system for servers running mission-critical workloads in physical, virtual and cloud environments.
In this Linux.com exclusive interview, SUSE product marketing manager George Shi describes the new features in this latest release, including virtualization, efficiency, and hardware support. He also discusses trends in mission-critical computing, the three themes of SLE11 SP3, and their efforts to bring enterprise SUSE to ARM architectures.
Which kernel version is this latest release based on?
SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 will be based on kernel v3.0. There is no kernel upgrade from SP2. This service pack includes lots of patches and fixes on the previous kernel version, giving our customers a more stable and reliable foundation to run mission-critical workloads.
Does it now include UEFI secure boot support?
SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 is the first enterprise Linux that includes support for the UEFI secure boot mechanism. This mechanism reduces the risk of a malicious attack during the boot process. This is done by the bootloader recognizing a pre-assigned digital signature key of the OS. Details can be found at:
How does this latest release improve virtualization set up and management?
SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 supports the latest versions of both major open source hypervisors, i.e., XEN 4.2 and KVM 1.4. This will give customers flexibility of choice to run virtualized workloads. SP3 improves the VM limits compared to SP2, for example. It supports 64 VMs per host, 64 vCPU per VM and 512GB vRAM per VM.
How does it accomplish power efficiency improvements?
By fully exploiting the power saving features (Intel Idle drivers) of Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell, SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 improves the power efficiency.
How does it take advantage of the new Haswell processor capabilities?
SUSE is working closely with all major vendors, including Intel, and the mainline kernel community to take advantage of current and upcoming development in the hardware area; for what is known under the codename "Haswell" this includes:
- Power saving feature as I mentioned above
- New virtualization instructions (e.g. INVPCID) support in both XEN and KVM. These instructions improve the efficiency of the hypervisors.
How is mission-critical computing changing and what has SUSE done to address this?
SUSE Linux Enterprise is a leader in mission-critical Linux computing, providing a competitive RAS (Reliable, Available, Serviceable) Linux foundation and driving business critical infrastructures such as SAP HANA.
With the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability extension, SUSE delivers the only Open Source High Availability solution, which is available and supported on five hardware architectures. This includes the OCFS2 cluster file system.
The hardware enablement in SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 in general, along with the three themes of SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 specifically, i.e., scale-up, scale-out, and security, address recent trends in mission-critical computing.
Scale-up: customers can increase the IT capacity by adding more CPUs (or faster CPUs), more RAM and more IO capacity while the system is running. This "big machine" approach is effective and good for certain workloads such as data-warehousing. There are two major user scenarios of scale-up:
- replacing UNIX machine with large, capable Linux/x86 server to reduce TCO, and
- consolidating more virtualized workloads for better server utilization.
SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP3 supports the latest CPU, large number of CPU/RAM, and improvements in virtualization (for more details please see visit our site ). This gives customers a better choice of running their mission-critical workloads in the scale-up approach.
Scale-out: Some mission-critical workloads, such as web platform, can achieve better performance by scaling-out. This requires faster system interconnect, better storage utilization/management and support of various standards. SUSE includes features in these areas. Notable features are IPv6 and OFED updates. More details can be found here .
Security: SUSE has achieved many important security certifications and includes features like UEFI secure boot in SLES 11 SP3. These allow customers to confidently handle sensitive information on SUSE Linux Enterprise.
Please refer to:
SUSE as a company has three strategic "pillars": Enterprise Linux, Integrated Systems (hardware and software appliances) and Cloud.
With SUSE Linux Enterprise as a foundation, SUSE answers today's market needs. In addition, Integrated Systems and Cloud computing also define requirements towards the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Basis, e.g. with respect to scalability, agility, and how systems are used and sold.
In SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 we will incorporate a number of changes and enhancements which answer those needs and challenges.
When will Enterprise SUSE be available on ARM?
The Build Service Technology is the core of SUSE's capability to deliver a product across hardware architectures from the very same source code.
The openSUSE Build Service , is used by the community to build the openSUSE distribution, which is the "upstream" of upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise versions.
SUSE is working closely together with the openSUSE community to enable multiple ARM architectures in the Build Service, and in fact, earlier this year we have been the first to provide emulated builds for the architecture of upcoming ARMv8 (64-bit) systems (AArch64). For more information, see: https://news.opensuse.org/2013/04/15/about-armv7-progress-and-arming-for-aarch64-and/ 
SUSE will be able to provide SUSE Linux Enterprise on the AArch64, when the market requires this.