Long-Term Support (LTS) Software: why choose it?

8 August 2023 by Catalyst

Long-Term Support (LTS) Software refers to software versions that are supported with updates, bug fixes and security patches for a longer period of time (several years). Other version releases are sometimes used to release requested features that are ready for use and deemed important enough to provide out of cycle.

LTS releases are often favoured by larger organisations for their stability, security, and reduced change management.

Other benefits of LTS include:

  • Cost – reduced upgrade cycles and implementation efforts can result in cost savings.
  • Support – LTS versions often come with extended support contracts from software vendors and provide continuing access to support channels and documentation.
  • Compatibility – especially the case for larger organisations, who have various systems, custom solutions and dependencies. LTS prioritises compatibility.
  • Reduced risk – LTS software is designed to provide a stable and proven platform, reducing the chances of encountering compatibility problems or disruptive issues that can arise from rapid software updates.

Are there any drawbacks to choosing LTS software?

  • Frequency of updates – LTS versions are known for their stability and long-term maintenance, but this can also mean a slower pace of access to feature updates and enhancements compared to non-LTS versions.
  • Extended supported period – While the extended support period of an LTS version can be beneficial, it may also lead to a longer lifespan for legacy systems and become a barrier to change. This can make it challenging to introduce new technologies or take advantage of advancements in the software ecosystem. Delaying upgrades for an extended period may result in technical debt and increased effort required for future migrations.
  • Limit access to innovation – If innovation is one of your company’s strategic priorities, you require access to cutting-edge technologies / integrations and experimental features. LTS software versions may not always meet those needs. Beware of this especially if you are considering or have a history of transitioning from LTS to LTS, on which we expand below.

Transitioning from LTS to LTS – what to consider.

When transitioning from one LTS version of software to another, there are some important considerations to be made, including:

  • Compatibility – While LTS versions generally prioritise maintaining compatibility with your existing software systems, there can still be challenges when upgrading from one LTS to another.
  • Feature and Security updates – Evaluate the new features and security enhancements introduced in the newer LTS version and determine if any of these updates address specific needs or concerns within your organisation. Consider the potential benefits and evaluate if they outweigh the potential challenges or disruptions that may arise during the transition.
  • Upgrade considerations – Plan the upgrade process carefully to minimise disruptions and ensure a smooth transition. Identify potential risks and develop a comprehensive migration plan that includes testing, backup strategies, and rollback procedures in case any issues arise. Consider involving key stakeholders and users early on to gather their feedback and address any concerns.
  • Testing – Be thorough with testing the new LTS version in a controlled environment before rolling it out to production. Double check that all critical functionality is working as expected, and don’t forget to test any required integrations and custom elements.
  • Training – provide your staff / users with training and resources on any new features.
  • Documentation – update documents, user manuals, etc.
  • Maintenance and support – how long are you covered for? what does it cost? Will you receive timely and reliable service should any issues arise?
  • Innovation and ongoing enhancements – If your organisation requires access to the latest features, improvements or security updates, waiting for the next LTS version may lead to a delay in leveraging those benefits.

Whether you use LTS software versions or not is a strategic decision that should be a part of your overall digital strategy, supporting your organisation’s specific needs, requirements and risk tolerance.

For a more personalised advice on LTS software speak with our team.