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It’s time to prepare for the end of maintenance support.

It’s been almost ten years since the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7, and its maintenance support phase will come to an end in June 2024.

When maintenance support ends, the Extended Life Phase will begin. During this period, Red Hat will provide limited ongoing technical support. No bug fixes, security fixes, hardware enablement, or root cause analysis will be available, and support will only be supplied on existing installations.

Previously released content on the Red Hat Customer Portal, as well as other content such as documentation and the Red Hat Knowledgebase, will remain available. Advice for migrating to currently supported RHEL versions may also be provided.

Now that maintenance support is ending, it’s an excellent time to learn more about upgrading to the latest versions of RHEL—and why doing so might be a good idea.

Why upgrade to newer versions of RHEL?

Organizations are increasingly turning to hybrid cloud solutions, and the IT challenges they face are becoming more and more complex. Further increasing that complexity, organizations must continually adapt their technology and processes to fulfill rapidly-changing business demands, even as they maintain traditional systems.

As your infrastructure spreads from the datacenter to the cloud and out to the network edge, upgrading to one of the latest versions of RHEL can help your organization safeguard the stability of its IT foundation, simplifying and centralizing management across your hybrid cloud environment.

Upgrading to RHEL 9 provides the following benefits:

  • Build RHEL images your way: RHEL 9 simplifies and streamlines the process of assembling your own customized operating system (OS) images, allowing you to select which of the latest content and security updates you apply.
  • Unlock performance with Linux kernel 5.14 and new tools: Based on the upstream version of Linux kernel 5.14, RHEL 9 delivers improved performance for many key industry workloads and benchmarks.
  • Simplify your RHEL upgrade: Developed to help reduce risks associated with upgrading from major versions of RHEL, Leapp simplifies the upgrade process, allowing you to get to the newest version in less time and with less effort.
  • RHEL operates at the edge: If you’re deploying at the edge, upgrading RHEL helps improve workload resilience and security capabilities while also simplifying the inherent complexities that come with operating edge systems. 
  • Supported architectures now include ARM: RHEL for ARM pairs enterprise Linux features with the ARM architecture, delivering a more reliable, high-performance platform that helps to drive a more consistent application environment across physical, virtual and cloud deployments.
  • Gain system-wide visibility with Red Hat Insights: Red Hat Insights uses predictive analytics to assess environments, identify and prioritize operational and security risks, and simplify operations. Insights also enhances subscription tracking across hybrid cloud deployments, streamlining how you manage your RHEL instances.
  • Not yesterday’s Linux: Upgrading RHEL means you can continue to choose the version of popular applications and language runtimes you use. As new features and capabilities are added to updated databases, web servers and application frameworks, you can evolve your application stack based on your organization’s needs.
  • Life cycle management that balances efficiency and consistency: A RHEL subscription offers flexible yet stable life cycle options to support your business and security requirements. You can choose from multiple supported versions, upgrade on your schedule and adopt new features when needed.
  • Built in the open with upstream communities and Red Hat partners: RHEL 9 is the first major release for this product built within CentOS Stream. Because CentOS Stream code becomes the next minor release of RHEL, you can contribute directly to RHEL and test your workloads before new releases.

How to upgrade your RHEL infrastructure

Upgrading to a new version of RHEL can be challenging, and preparation is the key to success. Fortunately, Red Hat is here to walk you through the process. Red Hat’s suite of migration tools can help you mitigate risk and reduce complexity.

It can be challenging to determine which applications and hardware are compatible with the latest versions of RHEL, so Red Hat has included pre-upgrade analysis as part of the Leapp upgrade utility to identify potential complications that are unique to your environment and provide suggestions for remediation. Run this analysis utility to determine application compatibility and remediate possible issues. Once you have identified the unknowns and successfully remediated areas of concern, you can consider which version of RHEL will best meet your needs.

If you choose to upgrade independently, Red Hat will provide you with step-by-step guidance and tools to help you succeed as part of your RHEL subscription. However, you can also choose to engage Red Hat’s expert professional services for a fully-assisted upgrade process.

In the past, upgrading required organizations to undertake "lift and shift" actions, which could cause significant disruption to workflow. RHEL ships with Leapp as a supported upgrade management tool, delivering a single, automatable path to upgrade to the next major version of RHEL.

Thanks to Leapp and Red Hat’s other upgrade technologies, upgrading in place is more straightforward and results in minimal disruption to your organization’s services.

Ultimately, the best upgrade strategy is to look to the future and plan accordingly. Knowing when end of maintenance will occur is your opportunity to adopt new features and get ahead of the curve.

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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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