Red Hat extends support options for enterprises

Red Hat tells customers: if the older version works, don't rush to upgrade

Red Hat today announced that it will offer enterprises the option to extend their support contracts from seven years to as long as 10 years. These support contracts are available in one-year increments from the time the seven-year subscription runs out. RHEL 3 was to hit its end-of-life support on Oct. 31, but those who purchase Extended Life Cycle Support (ELS), can get support until October 2013.

Red Hat's approach is a big difference from the typical pressure to upgrade that users face from their software vendors. In a blog post explaining the upgrade, Red Hat explained,

"ELS offers benefit to customers who do not wish to upgrade to a newer version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, perhaps because their systems and applications are still running well and do not warrant upgrading, or maybe because of contractual requirements. An important use for ELS will be in virtualized environments. One way to enable an old, stable system to run on modern hardware is to virtualize it. The virtualization software supports the modern hardware and is able to host the old system. With ELS, the old system has an even longer supported life cycle while taking advantage of the latest hardware."

ELS actually extends support beyond the typical life cycle of enterprise hardware (normally depreciated within five), but with today's world of virtualization, older, mission-critical software is often outliving its original hardware.

ELS doesn't cover all the software that originally shipped with RHEL 3 (or other versions), Red Hat warns. It has published a list of software not covered by the extended support contract here.

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