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Understanding GemFire Versioning

Environment

 Product  Version
 Pivotal GemFire  All versions
 OS  All Supported OS 

Purpose

The numbering scheme for GemFire versions is sometimes misunderstood when customers are wanting to upgrade or needing an update on a current version. This article describes the numbering scheme to assist customers in understanding this version number format.  

GemFire Version Numbers

There are 4 components to the complete GemFire version scheme, using the following format:

MAJOR.MINOR.maintenance.hotfix

The first two components in boldface represent the official GemFire versions. When we speak of a given official version of the product, it is only these first 2 components that hold meaning. We may have new content in a Major version release, such as a 9.0, or new content in a new Minor version release, such as a 9.1, or 9.2, as examples.      

A very important note here is that receiving a new update is considered an UPGRADE, only when receiving a new Major or Minor version, such as going from 8.2.x to 9.1, or going from 9.0 to 9.1. These are both considered upgrades because you are getting new features or content that are beyond those of product fixes.

It is not considered an upgrade when receiving a new maintenance version or hotfix version as described in the next section.

Maintenance Versions 

The third digit in the complete GemFire version number format is called the maintenance or patch, version number. These versions never contain any new content, other than product fixes to issues that are known to exist in that version.    

It is NOT considered an upgrade when going from version 8.2.2 to 8.2.5 or going from 9.0.2 to 9.0.5. Such updates are only to receive a later update on the same product version. When releasing a new GemFire maintenance version, that version will be available on the Pivotal Network for any customer to download.   You can extract the Release Notes from that download to identify all of the issues that have been resolved in that version, as well as the other patch releases from the same Major.Minor version.

The GemFire maintenance versions do go through a complete regiment of testing similar to our major and minor releases, so we always recommend that if you are planning to upgrade to a later version, please go to the latest maintenance version available at the time you are going to upgrade. For example, if upgrading from 8.2.3 to 9.0.x, please choose the latest version of x available on the Pivotal network. It is not recommended to upgrade to 9.0.1, for example, when 9.0.4 already exists on the Pivotal network.

For example, if upgrading from 8.2.3 to 9.0.x, please choose the latest version of x available on the Pivotal network. It is not recommended to upgrade to 9.0.1, for example, when 9.0.4 already exists on the Pivotal network.

The reasoning is simple in this case. Namely, patch version 9.0.4 contains fixes for issues that exist in 9.0.1. We would prefer that our customers do not hit issues that have already been discovered and fixed in later versions of the product.    

For this reason, we remove the previous maintenance versions of GemFire from the Pivotal network when a later maintenance version is available for the same Major.Minor version.

For example, if 8.2.4 exists on the site, then later, when 8.2.5 becomes available, 8.2.4 is removed. 82.4 is essentially now out of date at that time. Anybody upgrading to version 8.2 after that should upgrade to 8.2.5 at that point in time. Anybody using 8.2.4. or hotfix 8.2.4.2, for example, will have to go to 8.2.5 or later to get any subsequent updates. There will be no 8.2.4' (prime), or 8.2.4.x versions created once 8.2.5 exists.

We are establishing a more frequent cadence of new patch versions so that the customers have the opportunity to get the latest most stable patch version that exists for their given GemFire Major.Minor version.

Hotfix Versions 

We are doing our best to eliminate hotfix versions entirely, but there are times when it is critical that we provide a very fast product update to a customer for security related issues or very critical product issues that need to be resolved ASAP for the customer.  

In such cases, there may not be time to complete a full suite of testing that is mandated with a maintenance release. We will thoroughly test the specific area of the product being altered to fix a specific issue, and, more importantly, we will only provide access to such a hotfix version to the customer(s) who has been impacted by this issue.  

Again, it is not considered an upgrade to go from 8.2.2 to 8.2.3.1, or to go from 8.2.3.2 to 8.2.5.1, because the Major.Minor component will not have changed.

Once there has been time to test, the fixes that were placed into a hotfix version will be incorporated into the next Maintenance version of the product, as well as any future versions that exist that have that issue. Once sufficient testing has been performed, a new maintenance version will be publicly available on the Pivotal network.

End of General Support 

It is very important to stay ahead of the release cycle and not be in a position where you can not get any new product updates for issues you may encounter in production. If you do not plan ahead with future upgrade plans, you may get into a situation where you need to upgrade without optimal time to plan and provision the necessary resources.

Please pay attention to the Pivotal Product Lifecycle Matrix that can be referenced from the Pivotal Support Lifecycle Policy. This provides the dates for End of General Support, and End of Technical Guidance that can be provided by Pivotal Support should you encounter any issues with a given GemFire version.

 

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