A lot has changed since Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7) was released in 2014. At that time, less than 10% of American employees worked remotely, even one day per week. Now, nearly a decade later, remote work is standard for people across many industries. For example, 58% of job holders in the United States are able to work remotely at least once per week. 

With its rather sudden onset, this shift to remote work presented a large number of new and immediate challenges for IT organizations. A continually expanding selection of collaboration tools—including instant messaging, video conferencing, file sharing and enterprise social networks—required constant support and maintenance. Remote endpoints located outside of enterprise firewalls needed new, automated technologies to protect sensitive data and minimize the risk of security breaches. At the same time, expanded use of unsecured and unvetted personal devices to access company assets contributed to security vulnerabilities that organizations needed to find and fix. In the process of responding to these complex challenges, many teams were forced to delay and revise their plans to migrate from RHEL 7. 

As we near the end of the standard 10-year life cycle of RHEL 7, some IT organizations are finding that they cannot complete their planned migrations before June 30, 2024. To support IT teams while they catch up on their migration schedules, Red Hat is announcing a one-time, 4 year ELS maintenance period for RHEL 7 ELS. While Red Hat is providing more time, we strongly recommend customers migrate to a newer version of RHEL to take advantage of new features and enhancements. 

Extend Red Hat Enterprise Linux support with ELS

All major releases of RHEL follow a standard 10-year life cycle. During the first 5 years, we provide full support, including bug fixes, security patches, software enhancements, hardware enablement and backports. During the next 5 years, we provide maintenance support with security patches and bug fixes released on an as-needed basis. 

After this, RHEL enters the Extended Life Phase (ELP). During this time, you have continued access to previously-released content on the Red Hat Customer Portal and the Red Hat Knowledgebase. Additionally, we may provide limited ongoing technical support and advice for migrating to currently supported RHEL versions.

For organizations that need to remain on a major release beyond the standard life cycle, we offer the Extended Life Cycle Support (ELS) Add-On. This add-on currently extends support of major releases for up to 2 years after the end of the standard release life cycle. As an optional, add-on subscription, ELS gives you access to troubleshooting for the last minor release, selected urgent priority bug fixes and certain Red Hat-defined security fixes. 

We rate security issue severity using a 4-point scale—Low, Moderate, Important, and Critical. With ELS, you receive fixes for Red Hat-defined Important and Critical Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs)—the two highest severity levels. Important CVEs can compromise the confidentiality, integrity or availability of your resources, while Critical CVEs can be exploited by a remote unauthenticated attacker and lead to compromised systems without requiring user interaction. 

Plan for your future needs 

ELS for RHEL 7 is now available for 4 years, starting on July 1, 2024. Organizations must be on RHEL 7.9 to take advantage of this. Compared to previous major releases, ELS for RHEL 7 (RHEL 7.9) expands the scope of security fixes by including updates that address Important CVEs. It also includes maintenance for Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions and Red Hat Enterprise Linux High Availability and Resilient Storage add-ons. And to help you create your long-term IT infrastructure strategy, Red Hat plans to offer ELS for 3 years for both RHEL 8 and 9.

Get help with your upgrade 

When you’re ready to upgrade from RHEL 7—or any other version—Red Hat is here to help. We offer in-place upgrade tools and detailed guidance to streamline upgrades and application migrations. You can also engage Red Hat Consulting to plan and execute your upgrade projects. Red Hat experts work with your organization to identify key applications and tools, create automated workflows and analyze and manage risk for the entire project. 

Find out more

Over the last decade, RHEL 7 has become a staple in many IT organizations, providing a more consistent, trusted platform for hybrid cloud workloads. With 4 years of ELS for RHEL 7, you can revise and execute your migration plans based on your schedule, while continuing to receive the support you need to protect your critical workloads. 

Learn more about ELS and the entire RHEL life cycle at access.redhat.com/support/policy/updates/errata. You can also review the FAQ.


About the author

Gil Cattelain is Principal Product Marketing Manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Cattelain has more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in high-tech software product marketing with a proven track record of managing major product releases and go-to-market strategies. Prior to Red Hat, Cattelain held product marketing leadership roles at Micro Focus, Novell, and Genesys, focusing on the endpoint management and DevOps/agile solutions, including digital marketing for the contact center market.

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