Long-term support ensures long-term success

October 11, 2023

Our latest version of ESS (23.10) is our first release to include LTS

Before we start, let's clear up a few Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs)! LTS stands for Long-term support, and denotes a version (or release) of a software product that is specifically designed to receive support for an extended period. ESS refers to Element Server Suite, the name of our backend hosting product that gives organisations the control and flexibility to make full use of their data sovereign real-time communications. So, hopefully, now it makes sense when we say that ESS now comes with LTS!

Administrators who manage software deployments for large organisations benefit in numerous ways from Long-term support releases. LTS releases of ESS will come out every six months which is a considerably slower release cadence than our standard monthly release cycles.  

Our monthly release cadence for ESS, emphasising the six monthly LTS versions.

Reducing maintenance costs

Our LTS versions of ESS are designed to be stable and reliable. They undergo extensive testing and are regularly updated with bug fixes to ensure they are optimised for use over an extended period of time. This stability is crucial for larger businesses and organisations that rely on ESS for their critical day-to-day operations.

LTS releases allow organisations who rely on ESS to plan their software investments and deployments. This means you can plan resource allocation, train staff, and make informed decisions about the role our solution plays across your business operations without having to worry about major, rapid changes.

Also, for organisations running their own IT infrastructure, LTS versions of ESS reduce the need to continually update and actively maintain multiple older versions of the software to cover instances where parts of the organisation continue operating on older versions. This reduces your attack surface and saves you time.

Maximising security

Digital communications are always under threat of being compromised through security vulnerabilities. With ESS 23.10 you receive security updates and patches for a longer period compared to our standard monthly releases. We address critical security issues, whilst actively not updating your feature set (more about this below), to minimise the risks of data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents.

Security is important in long-term support.

Enhanced compatibility

Once your organisation has agreed on its preferred software stack, reducing the need for frequent upgrades and potential disruptions is important. Many organisations build their workflows and processes around Element as the cornerstone of their mission critical real-time communications. By using the LTS ‘track’ organisations ensure compatibility with existing systems for longer.

Extended support for features

As software evolves occasionally features are changed or made unavailable in newer versions. At larger organisations often it’s helpful to have a period of time during which to communicate these changes and prepare for their impact. So, by using our LTS release, you get a longer lead-in which is particularly beneficial for teams that rely on specific functionalities. Also, for features that remain in LTS but are not included in the standard monthly releases, we ensure extended support of features. So whichever way you look at it, LTS is about optimising features for the long term.

Upgrade paths

Not only does LTS provide a predictable and well-defined feature set, it also ensures a predictable upgrade path for users. This is especially valuable to IT staff involved in the update cadence. They can plan their upgrade schedules with confidence, knowing they won't be forced into frequent updates that may require significant adjustments to their infrastructure.

What won’t be in LTS?

When looking for the certainty, stability and consistency offered by LTS, there are some things you positively don’t want included. So we save the following for standard monthly releases:

  1. New features and functionalities that make substantial changes to the end user experience.
  2. Changes to application programming interfaces (APIs) and/or code libraries as these may not be backward-compatible with older versions. They improve our product but can require customers time and our support to prepare.
  3. Changes to the user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) to improve aesthetics or usability. These changes will be steadily pulled into LTS versions to maintain a stable UI/UX for a longer period.
LTS releases provide enhanced stability, certainty and direction for your organisation.

Overall, the choice between using an LTS or a standard release depends on your organisation’s needs, priorities and appetite for change. LTS versions are typically chosen when long-term stability and compatibility are paramount. Whereas non-LTS releases may be preferred by users who want access to the latest features and technologies. Either way, get in touch to discover how ESS ensures you can… be in your element.

Karl Abbott
Karl Abbott is the Product Manager for Element On-Premise and is passionate about private and secure communications.

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