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CentOS End-of-Life: An Opportunity To Modernize IT Infrastructure

CentOS, a popular Linux distribution, is reaching end-of-life in June 2024. This presents a challenge for businesses that use CentOS, but it also presents an opportunity to improve their IT infrastructure.

We asked our clients how they felt about this challenge, and they shared these three insights:

  • Clients who predominantly use CentOS in their pre-production environments and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in their production environments are feeling okay with the move and accept that they need to migrate.
  • Clients who run all their workloads on CentOS are frustrated and looking for alternative options, primarily exploring RHEL, Ubuntu, Rocky Linux, and SUSE Linux.
  • Clients who run legacy workloads on CentOS with no migration options are stuck with a big question: should we modernize?

If you're looking for CentOS migration options, here are the four that we see clients taking:

1. Straight in-place migration to RHEL

Using tools like Convert2RHEL may be worth considering, but the risk can be high in converting a CentOS machine to RHEL. This is because the current machine may be using packages from third-party repositories that overlap with existing variants of Red Hat packages. For example, the Docker runtime provided by Red Hat has some differences from what is publicly available.

This means that converting to RHEL can cause conflicts between packages previously installed and those provided by Red Hat official repositories, which can lead to environment instability issues or worse. For clients who are adamant about an in-place migration, we recommend that they create backups before performing conversions and carry out a complete reinstallation of these systems.

Since the level of effort required to do a complete reinstall involves inventorying the existing configuration and recreating the existing environment on a new operating system, at this point they seriously consider containerizing or refactoring the workload.

2. Containerize the workload

How much time will it take you to containerize your application now so that you can future-proof it for tomorrow? This is the question we ask clients because we want them to think about the future. There is plenty of frustration with the CentOS end of life, so we encourage them to think about whether they want to be at the mercy of their operating system in the future.

If that answer is no, then containerization might be the best option. By containerizing the application, you will have the portability and flexibility to move the application to different operating systems in the future.

3. Rewrite or refactor the workload

Is this the compelling event you needed to build a case for modernizing that traditional application that's slowing down your business? Our clients are evaluating their options to modernize some of their legacy CentOS workloads. Oftentimes these workloads can't simply be moved to RHEL, so a decision needs to be made: Do we need this and should we modernize? Rewriting or refactoring an application is no small task, so you need to think through the modernization plan. What needs to be done? How long will this take? Who needs to be involved?

June 2024 feels like a long time away, but come January 2024, you'll have less than four months until the cut-off. Our clients are having these internal discussions now so they can build their case for application modernization projects that can be completed well ahead of June 2024, giving them peace of mind to cater to any hiccups that pop up along the way.

4. Do nothing

Some clients are kicking the can down the road. In most cases, these environments are pre-production, and migration is not seen as a priority. If you're in a similar boat, our suggestion to you is to develop a plan now so you know what the level of effort is for the migration. Imagine finding out the level of effort is 100 hours and you only have four weeks until the end-of-life event happens.

Other lessons learned to be aware of:

  • Some CentOS migrations will be straightforward, while others will have more complexity. Workloads that are databases or include storage will be more difficult and complex to migrate. Choose a partner that can help you understand your options and help you develop a plan to complete the migrations before June 2024.

Can you afford to keep kicking the can down the road?

Don't let CentOS end-of-life catch you unprepared. Start planning your migration or modernization today.

Contact our team today to explore your migration options.