SUSE has delivered a Linux distribution upgrade that could benefit VARs in the retail vertical. The new release, dubbed SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service 11 SP 2, specifically targets retail customers -- including general merchandisers, specialty retailers, food and drug stores.

Admittedly, the new SUSE release sounds a bit dated right out of the box, since it uses a client-server architecture. But don't forget: Most retailers continue to leverage client-server systems for their POS platforms. Indeed, SUSE claims that nearly 70 percent of US Fortune 100 general merchandisers, specialty retailers, and food and drug stores use SUSE Linux Enterprise, including National Vision, Coop and Walgreens.

SUSE says the new retail release also supports:
  • full disk encryption on terminals for both data and root partitions, making it easier for administrators to build Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliant systems, the company claims.
  • RAID 1 support (redundant array of independent disks) on the image-based terminals. Now SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) images can be mirrored on each terminal to improve performance while increasing resiliency and availability, the company also claimed.

SUSE, Novell and Attachmate...

It has been roughly one year since The Attachmate Group acquired Novell and its SUSE Linux business. These days, SUSE is an independent unit of Attachmate.

Most of SUSE's major channel and technology partners -- Dell, IBM, VMware and more -- have stood by SUSE since the Attachmate deal surfaced. More recently, Dell has actually bet a portion of its cloud strategy on SUSE.

To Attachmate's credit, SUSE has made some noise in recent months. And a September 2012 conference, appropriately called SUSECon, could help to attract more partners and developers onto the platform.

Rivals Everywhere

Still, SUSE faces intense competition. Red Hat just crossed the $1 billion annual revenue mark. And Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, claims Ubuntu is gaining server momentum.

The SUSE team, nevertheless, sounds upbeat. The VAR Guy will be watching if the latest retail-focused release catches the attention of vertical market VARs.