Red Hat offers 18-month term for enterprise maintenance

Macworld.com – Red Hat Thursday unveiled a new service aimed at making it more cost-effective for its customers to run and maintain one version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for a longer period of time, reducing management and administration costs, the company said.

Extended Update Support (EUS), a new maintenance option for RHEL customers, allows them to standardize their IT environments on a version of RHEL for 18 months instead of six months, which is the current time frame for Red Hat's maintenance contract, said Gerry Riveros, product marketing manager for EUS.

Through EUS, Red Hat will support whatever standard version of RHEL a customer is on with bug fixes and updates for 18 months, which means customers won't have to recertify or update all of their applications and hardware for a new version of RHEL until that period is over, Riveros said.

This recertification process costs money and takes up IT resources, so EUS provides an option that is more cost-effective for customers than updating every six months, which is what customers usually have to do on the current maintenance contract, he said.

"There are a set of customers who would like to be able to run RHEL as long as possible without re-evaluation," Riveros said.

Customers with mission-critical environments particularly don't like to update their OSes too frequently, he said, because they are afraid that changes they make could cause performance problems in their IT system.

Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with Redmonk, agreed that "for customers with large, highly specific and standardized deployments, change is bad, even the kind of QA'd change that Red Hat and other vendors provide." By slowing that rate of change, the customer is able to reduce its overall platform risk," he said.

With the recession in the U.S., companies also are looking to cut costs from their IT budgets, and being able to maintain RHEL for a longer period of time will help them do that.

EUS costs the same as Red Hat's current maintenance service, which varies depending on how many machines a customer has. For up to 100 machines, maintenance starts at US$60,000 a year; for up to 500 machines, it starts at $80,000 a year, and so on, Riveros said.

Red Hat of course will continue to offer its current maintenance plan, which provides OS updates and bug fixes every six months, he added.

More information about EUS can be found on a blog entry on Red Hat's Web site.

(Chris Kanaracus in Boston contributed to this report.)

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