SUSE added a performance boost for enterprises running its Linux Enterprise Server 15 platform on the Microsoft Azure cloud. That boost comes from a custom-tailored Linux kernel that provides up to 25 percent faster network throughput and a 23 percent drop in average latency for on-demand instances.
The increased performance is targeted at Azure services like Accelerated Networking with single root I/O virtualization (SR-IOV) and Write Accelerator. These are Microsoft platforms that increase performance by moving the Azure SDN stack from a CPU and into programmable network controllers like Smart NICs.
Michal Svec, product manager SUSE Linux Enterprise, said that SUSE and Microsoft are collaborating openly upstream to improve the performance and capabilities of the Linux kernel and to make those capabilities available at an accelerated pace.
The update will run by default for SUSE customers using Azure, although they can switch back to the standard kernel if needed. Svec said the custom kernel is targeted at applications the need virtual machine (VM) support and are not dependent on kernel application binary interface (kABI) stability. Those that are dependent on kABI stability would be most likely to switch back to the standard kernel.
The SUSE platform competes against others offered by Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, and Oracle. In fact, Ubuntu last year released its own customer Linux kernel for Azure that also boasted of increased performance metrics.
Swedish private equity fund EQT VIII announced last month that it was buying SUSE from its current parent company Micro Focus for $2.5 billion. SUSE has been owned by Micro Focus since November 2014, where it has operated as a semi-independent business. The private equity fund will leave SUSE as an independent company. Its strategy includes strengthening its position as an open source player, both organically and through acquisitions.
Microsoft Loves Linux
The SUSE update also bolsters Microsoft’s adoption of Linux, which its previous CEO Steve Ballmer called a “cancer” in 2001. The computing giant has since reversed its ways, highlighted by it joining the Linux Foundation in late 2016.
Microsoft in April launched its first operating system based on a custom Linux kernel that was optimized for the IoT ecosystem. The Azure Sphere Operating System was also built entirely on open source software. As part of the launch, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company will “license this royalty-free to any silicon manufacturer that wants to buy these new Azure Sphere chips.”