Lifecycle support changes for Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 and beyond

OpenStack continues to evolve

During the past six years, OpenStack has evolved rapidly. The OpenStack community itself has grown to more than 60,000 strong, with support from a wide array of technology vendors across the globe. Customers are pushing OpenStack into production and starting to realize the many benefits OpenStack has been promising them.

And as more and more customers push OpenStack into production, changes into how they want to consume it have evolved as well.

Customers need choice for consumption

The needs for different ways to consume Red Hat OpenStack Platform came about from our constant interaction with customers and potential customers in the market. In listening to them, we realized that offering one standard lifecycle was not going to meet everyone’s needs going forward. During our discussions (which will continue) we saw two types of customer emerge.

One type of customer needs a “long life” version. These customers typically are reluctant to change what’s already in production. To them upgrading to a newer version of software can be a major disruption. Downtime is not something they can afford or work-around. Validations during an upgrade are often done manually. Sometimes they are constrained by complex regulations within their industry. Also, they may not always need or desire the latest features of a product, especially if that product is mature enough that it’s current version serves them well enough.

On the other side, there are customers who want the latest features to stay on the cutting edge of technology and stay ahead of (or keep up with) their competition. They want new features as soon as they are available. They work in a fast-paced environment and may even be asked to deliver applications to their internal and external clients rapidly as well. These organizations are well versed in continuous delivery concepts and have automated ways of performing validations during upgrades. They also have the ability to continuously upgrade their hardware to support a rapidly scaling infrastructure.

Our surveys and customer interactions even show that within a single large customer we often encounter a diversity of deployments with different needs, some needing latest features and some craving for a long life version.

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Figure 1. A breakdown of the two types of customers.

Thus, with the release of Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10, based upon the upstream community’s Newton release, we are announcing new options for lifecycle support. One that will support those customers desiring long-life versions, and another that will allow customers to stay up-to-date with the latest releases.

The two new lifecycle support options

The new lifecycle support options will address the needs of the two different customer types outlined above. We will be able to do this by designating different support lengths for different versions of Red Hat OpenStack Platform. Some versions will be long life and have support for three years with an option for longer, and other versions will be supported for one year.

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Figure 2. Meeting the needs of customers with two types of support.

Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 will be the first “long life” version. It will be supported by Red Hat for three years. Customers will also have the option to purchase fourth, and even fifth, years of support. Then, approximately 18 months after version 10, we plan to release another long life version, with Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13. And we expect this cadence to continue with every third release. The frequency of the length of this support, up to five years on every third version, is exclusive to Red Hat.

Customers who want to standardize can then do so on Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13, etc. for up to five years (with the extended lifecycle support option for those fourth and fifth years). They will be able to skip the versions in between.

For the regular versions (those in between these long life ones), we will provide one year of support. So for Red Hat OpenStack Platform versions 11 and 12, support will be available for one year each. Customers on this path still will be able to use Red Hat OpenStack Platform director for automatic upgrades and updates to take them from version 10 to 11 to 12 to 13 and so forth, offering them a new version to upgrade to approximately every six months.

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Figure 3. Long life vs. standard life support by release.

What else should you know about these changes?

These new lifecycle support changes are only effective for Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 and later. Support for versions 9, 8, 7, etc. does not change. By policy, Red Hat does not modify (or more precisely reduce) the lifecycle of a version after it has been released. We will still offer three years’ support with no option to purchase a fourth or fifth year.

If you need help deciding which path is the right one for you, please contact your Red Hat account representative or contact us if you aren’t a customer yet. We will work with you so that you can decide which option is right for your needs.

Also know that we won’t lock you into one path or the other. If you start out thinking you should be on the latest features path, upgrading every six months or so, and decide that standardizing on the long life version would be the better option, we will work with you to set you on that other path.

If you would like to learn more about lifecycle support, visit our customer portal page or contact your Red Hat account representative.