For over five years, Eclipse has provided a coordinated release of projects on the last week of June. Subsequently, each September and February there are service releases known simply as "Service Release 1" and "Service Release 2" respectively. SR1 and SR2 only address bugs and fixes in the releases. New features and API changes are developed exclusively in the code stream for the next major release. This cycle repeats yearly.
The consequence of this aggressive and successful development style is that organizations that need to remain "API stable" are left behind after SR2. All future bug fixes will only occur in the subsequent (and API changed) versions. For many organizations, this is not a major issue. Users are on a leading edge of technology, and welcome the major new updates each year.
As the number of Eclipse projects used by the company grows and as this company is shipping products based on the Eclipse platform, the need better organized support structures arises, since the company may have a support obligation for many years towards their customers. Other companies may be bound to such support obligations due to regulations in their specific domain (e.g., medical devices, aerospace).
We from the Eclipse Foundation have been asked in 2010 by a number of large Eclipse consumers to come up with a proposal how a long-term support eco system could be formed.
A good summary of the problem space and a solution scenario was provided by Jochen Krause and Karsten Schmidt in their talk at Eclipse Con 2011 (http://www.slideshare.net/KarstenSchmidt1/econ-2011-eclipse-lts).
A draft of the program as presented to the Eclipse Board of Directors in November 2010 can be found at the board minutes section of the Eclipse Home page (http://www.eclipse.org/org/foundation/boardminutes/2010_11_exhibits/ExhibitK.pdf).
After various discussions with consumers such as SAP and Ericsson, typical support providers such as Atos Origin and organizations that have the technical skills to provide bug fixes such as EclipseSource we have created a proposal, including the business side as well as the technical implementation.
To discuss this proposal and its implications SAP and Eclipse Foundation are hosting a one-day workshop on July 11th, 2011 in Walldorf, Germany. If you'd like to participate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The number of participants is limited, so let me know as soon as possible.