Kathy Gibson at SUSEcon, Prague — SUSE is readying a multimodal operating system that will help CIOs bridge the growing gap between Mode 1 and Mode 2 IT operations.
Business realities are driving cloud, software-defined everything and digital transformation. This is focusing attention on the data centre and putting the operating system in the spotlight.

CIOs have to find ways to start migrating systems and services into the cloud, software-enabling parts of the infrastructure and still running their on-premise data centres efficiently, while thinking ahead to accommodate new technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and more.

For want of a better term, the industry refers to these two different types of environment as Mode 1 and Mode 2, with Mode 1 referring to the legacy IT environment and Mode 2 the place where new agile development takes place.

To a large extent, Mode 1 operations take place in the physical infrastructure, while Mode 2 tends to happen in the virtual, cloud-enabled or software-defined space, using application development services like containers and Cloud Foundry.

Today, most companies have set up some kind of Mode1/Mode 2 operations. However, they are quickly discovering that running two separate systems comes with a new set of challenges around integration and interoperability.

Next month, SUSE will announce a public beta of SUSE Linux Enterprise System 15 (SLES 15), the newest version of its enterprise-grade operating system, designed for multimodal IT environments.

“The objective is to bridge the two environments, allowing seamless interoperability from Mode 1 to Mode 2 and back,” explains Raj Meel, product marketing manager at SUSE. As well as operating in various modes, SLES 15 is designed to run on just about any device.

“We have started with a common code base, so every instance of SLES 15 is always based on the same source code,” says Kai Dupke, senior product manager at SUSE. “SLES 15 and SUSE OpenStack also run the same kernel.”

This means all hardware — whether it’s based on Intel, Power, ARM or Ryzen — uses the same source code. “So the same operating system can run on a mainframe computer and on a Rapberry Pi,” Dupke explains.

“We talk about software-defined everything, but we are still bound to hardware at some point. With SLES 15 there will be one operating system for any hardware and for any application.

“There is also one unified installation, so administrators only have to download one installer — which is smaller than the one we use today — and they can install everything.”

The ability to run a single operating system for any hardware or application translates to a better-quality, but less complex IT environment that is suited for traditional on-premise data centres, a software-defined infrastructure or the cloud.

Staff can easily move from one environment to another without having to be retrained, while a common platform will reduce service and support challenges.

Additional services from SUSE like containers as a service (CaaS) and Cloud Application Platform work seamlessly with SLES 15. The interoperability across environments is particularly important here to ensure the containers run every time, regardless of the platform.

“We believe this is a somewhat unique value proposition,” Dupke says. “Companies can choose to work hard or to work smart — we think this will help them work smart.”

SLES 15 will go into public beta in October, and is expected to start shipping in the second quarter of 2018.

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