I'm a big believer in "It's not broke, then don't fix it." So is leading Linux company, Red Hat. The company has just announced that it is extending the production lifecycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and 6 from seven to 10 years in response to enterprise customer demand and Red Hat's hardware original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners.
For any company, upgrading to a new version of an operating system requires detailed advance planning. Red Hat has extended the Red Hat Enterprise Linux lifecycle so customers can remain on their current version longer. With the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux lifecycle, customers will benefit from continued feature enhancements while Red Hat's application binary interface (ABI) and application programming interface (API) compatibility for their existing application.
In addition, quite a few RHEL customers have only relatively recently adopted the Linux operating system. For many business users, RHEL 5 was the first Linux product that they had deployed in their infrastructure.
According to Red Hat, "the market adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6 has accelerated over the past two years. For example, many of our customers have adopted Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 well into its previous 7 year life cycle (i.e., first deploying Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 in March 2010, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.6 in January 2011)." Had Red Hat stuck with its original seven-years of support, a customer adopting RHEL 5.6 in 2011 would have to upgrade to a newer RHEL in 2014. For an enterprise, that's much too fast for comfort.
With the new plan, RHEL 5 customers will have full support until March 2017. RHEL 6 customers will be fully supported until November 2020. Specifically, the former ten-year life cycle for RHEL was comprised of 7 years of a regular life cycle, and three years of an extended life cycle. For RHEL 5 and 6, the regular life cycle is being pushed out to ten years.
The RHEL Add-Ons programs--High Availability Add-On (or Red Hat Cluster Suite), Scalable File System Add-On (or XFS), Load Balancer Add-On, and Resilient Storage Add-On (or GFS)--are also being supported with the new 10-year life cycle.
This new plan is also for all of RHEL's supported hardware platforms. So, in addition to the Intel 32 and 64-bit families, Itanium, IBM System z, IBM POWER, HPC, and SA P Business Applications are all being supported for ten years.
Still on RHEL 4? Red Hat already has a 10-year life cycle available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4. For customers who require a 10-year life cycle to include software maintenance, Red Hat recommends the Extended Life Cycle Support (ELS) Add-On. This extends RHEL 4's life cycle until February 28, 2015.
"Enterprise customers require flexibility when planning strategic, long-term technology deployments," said Jim Totton, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's Platform Business Unit in a statement. "Many of our customers have come to realize that standardizing on RHEL improves efficiency and helps lower costs. With a ten-year lifecycle, customers now have additional choices when planning their RHEL deployment and overall IT strategy. We are pleased that customers are looking far into the future with Red Hat."