Standardization is both the blessing and curse of embedded suppliers and customers. It’s a tightrope walk with long drops to either side: obsolescence and the march of technology on one, redevelopment costs on the other. Generally speaking we err on the side of caution. While we love new tech and strive to bring the latest and greatest to market, the longer the lifetime of a product, the easier it is to offer a standardized solution to customers.

We spend a lot of time agonizing over the anticipated lifetime of each product, putting a lot of emphasis on Embedded Life Cycles, supplier roadmaps, and anticipated end-of-life dates. Luckily for our industry, most of our suppliers provide long-life offerings aimed specifically at the project market.

Add to the list of long-life products Canonical’s Ubuntu 12.04, slated for a release in April of 2012. It has just been given an expanded LTS (Long Term Support) period of five(!) years, increased from the typical three. That means that through early 2017, enterprise users will still be able to enjoy the same support, even after Ubuntu 14.04 is released in 2014. We often get the question of why we prefer the LTS releases of Ubuntu, and why we still support 10.04 in the face of newer releases such as 11.04 and 11.10. Aside from the obvious advantage of longer support cycles and guaranteed updates, the non-LTS versions tend to innovate more but the LTS products such as 10.04 and the upcoming 12.04 offer users a more stable and predictable application environment.

According to Canonical’s press release, the overwhelming majority of their server users have standardized on Long Term Support releases of their product, and more and more organizations are migrating to Ubuntu. The ability for a developer to standardize on both hardware and software with such extended life cycles is crucial for minimizing the time and costs associated with redeveloping a new platform.

How important is the extended support period of a product to you? Let us know!