April 29, 2017

SUSE, the enterprise Linux company, is the latest vendor to get into the containers-as-a-service (CaaS) game. The company announced a CaaS platform built around MicroOS, a new variant of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 12.

SUSE has been known mostly for its Linux-based enterprise operating system for servers. It currently offers basic support for Docker on SLES, but the company previously has not been a major force in the Docker world. In that respect, SUSE has stood apart from other major Linux vendors such as Red Hat and Canonical, which have pursued the container market aggressively for the past couple of years.

SUSE Does Containers

But SUSE is now set to take a serious dive into the Docker market. Simona Aresene, SUSE Product Manager, told me at SUSECON last week in Washington, D.C., that the company is launching a new, holistic container platform called MicroOS. MicroOS is based on SLES 12 SP2, the latest version of SUSE’s server operating system, but will be configured to support Docker workloads out of the box.

In most respects, MicroOS will be similar to other CaaS platforms that combine a Linux operating system with Docker and container management tools. But it will stand out in the following two ways:

  • It will support transactional updates and automatic rollbacks. These will be facilitated by btrfs, the file system that SLES uses by default. Most other mainstream Linux distributions use the ext4 file system, which does not support rollbacks.
  • MicroOS can be automatically provisioned using Salt.

Will these features be enough to drive enterprise users to choose MicroOS from among an increasingly wide selection of CaaS offerings? Time will tell, of course. But the transactional updates and automatic rollbacks in particular are an interesting feature. It could help, too, that MicroOS is an on-premises CaaS, which sets it apart from most of the other big-name CaaS products—specifically ECS, Google Container Engine and Azure Container Service, all of which only run in the cloud.

SUSE says it plans to make MicroOS available through an early-access program starting in March 2017.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.