It turned out to be an issue with the sles support pack upgrade. For some reason, it had a new version of mysql, and it didn't finish the upgrade, so we had to do it manually. ONce we did that all was good.
Ah yes, indeed. The database needs to get upgraded, but must be done so with a "force" switch manually. That's more of a means to give one time to make a backup of the MySQL database before doing the upgrade... just in case things go south in that upgrade procedure.