With the Release to Support of the MEG 7.6.2 software, we are officially moving away from Controlled Release software and over to FeatureStream. So what does this mean for our customers? Let's go through this and explain what it all means.
You may recall that around the time we released 7.5, we announced a new release process we were going to call Controlled Release. Basically, this was a full version of the software, but support would be somewhat limited. Specifically, version numbers not of the form x.0.y or x.5.y were considered Controlled Release versions. New versions would come out about once every 3-4 months, and once the next minor version revision came out, the previous minor version that wasn't a .5 or .0 release would have to be upgraded to maintain support.
Unfortunately, this caused some anxiety among some of our customers because they really wanted the new features in the newer versions of the software, but didn't want to be on a piece of software that was going to lose support. Meanwhile, our developers need to be able to release updates quickly, but cannot maintain too many versions at the same time while still being able to get timely updates out. As a result, we chose to adjust the release model and rename it. This model is now called the FeatureStream Release model.
So how does it work?
In our FeatureStream Release model, we have three versions of our software which we maintain; two Long Term Support (or LTS) versions and the FeatureStream version. MEG 7.6.2 is the first FeatureStream release. At this time, MEG 7.0 and 7.5 are the available LTS versions. Starting with MEG 7.6, after ~3 patches, the MEG software will enter a stabilization period where no new features will be added to the product. At the end of this period, the version number of the software will go from x.y.z to x.y.z00. Once this happens, the software is considered LTS, and will be supported for ~2 years from that date. LTS software gets hotfix and patch updates, but does not get new features, for the most part. Patches on LTS will increment the version number by 1 as in FeatureStream, but since the version number is x.y.z00 to start, the first patch would be x.y.z01.
New features will show up in our FeatureStream version. Once a version gets promoted, a new FeatureStream release will be created. Additionally, new install CDs are created when a new FeatureStream package is created as well as when a version gets promoted to LTS. We are currently working to ensure that our patch updates will be able to maintain FIPS compliance without requiring a full rebuild, for those who need that feature.
How often can we expect new releases?
Long Term Support promotions will happen approximately once a year. At the same time a version gets promoted to LTS, a new FeatureStream version would be created. Additionally, an old LTS version would go End of Life about the same time. Patches on the FeatureStream would be released about every four months. These patches would roll up any earlier hotfixes as well as add additional new features. Patches for Long Term Support versions would be somewhat more frequent, coming approximately every two months. Additionally, customers on the FeatureStream who choose not to upgrade to the new FeatureStream version at the promotion of the previous will find themselves on the LTS version of that software release. For instance, when MEG 7.6 is promoted (currently expected after the release of 7.6.3), it will become MEG 7.6.300. Once on that version, a customer will be on the LTS version of the MEG 7.6 software, and can expect normal support and patch schedules from there.