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Support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Improved Through Enhanced Product Life Cycle

LifeCycle

A recent blog accompanying the release of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 update discussed the value of the life cycle of Enterprise Linux. And in June, during a presentation at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, we mentioned our plans to improve the current life cycle in an effort to provide the coverage that our customers and partners have been requesting.

So, as of today, the first phase of the life-cycle for every Red Hat Enterprise Linux major release is being extended from three years to four. During the first phase of the life cycle we provide support for new hardware that is released by our partners, important new software functionality, bug fixes and security patches.

This extension of the first life cycle phase provides a simple but important benefit for customers: it will be possible to purchase new hardware and find that it is supported on your deployed version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for an additional year. Similarly, it will often be possible to take advantage of new software features that would previously have required an upgrade to access.



In addition to extending the length of the first phase of the life cycle, we are taking the opportunity to rename all three life-cycle phases. We’re doing this because we have noticed that vendors are confusing customers by using the same service-level names to mean different things. Customers are being misled by “our Full Support is cheaper than their Full Support” messages, even though the actual features – which are not mentioned – differ widely.

Here are the details about each life-cycle phase:

Production 1 Life Cycle Phase

  • Formerly known as “Full Support”
  • Now four years instead of the former three years
  • During this phase customers can expect the following types of changes:
  • New hardware support
  • Enhanced software functionality (selected)
  • Bug fixes (medium, high or urgent priority levels)
  • Security patches (important or critical impact levels)

Production 2 Life Cycle Phase

  • Formerly known as “Deployment” or “Transition” phase
  • Remains at a length of approximately one year
  • During this phase customers can expect the following types of changes:
  • New hardware support (very limited)
  • Bug fixes (high or urgent priority levels)
  • Security patches (important or critical impact levels)

Production 3 Life Cycle Phase

  • Formerly known as “Maintenance”
  • Shortened to approximately two years in length from the previous three years
  • During this phase customers can expect the following types of changes:
  • Bug fixes (only those few deemed mission-critical)
  • Security patches (important or critical impact levels)

Note that the total length of the life cycle, during which Red Hat Enterprise Linux is fully supported, remains at seven years because Phase 3 (formerly ‘Maintenance’ phase) has been shortened from three years to two.

An immediate effect of the change is that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.8 release will now contain support for new hardware. It will be succeeded by a newly added 4.9 release, which is planned to be the final minor release for version 4. After this, version 4 will enter the Production 3 Life Cycle Phase.

The full updated life cycle policy is available here.