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Extending Support for PHP End-of-Life Versions: A Safety Net for Legacy Applications

Joao Correia

April 8, 2024 - Technical Evangelist

Handling end of life (EOL) for operating systems is a relatively common, if cumbersome, task that IT teams have to grapple with as part of their activity. Yet, operating systems aren’t the sole components of our digital infrastructure facing this inevitable sunset.

The end of support for critical software components, particularly programming languages, can trigger far-reaching and costly ripple effects, especially when businesses depend on specific computational workloads. These workloads could range from customer-facing web portals and sales platforms to sophisticated number-crunching applications and AI training frameworks.


Looking at You, Programming Languages


Consider the plight of many companies with web properties developed during the heyday of PHP 5. It grew over the years to accommodate new requirements and evolving market changes – responsive layouts, notifications, new support interactions – and is now being maintained by a large dedicated team of developers. But PHP 5 is long out of support, and a large portion of the development time is spent working around newly identified PHP bugs that happen to be used in the code supporting the website. 

With official support not forthcoming, the only two options were to continue the hard and complex task of tracking every new bug being identified (of which there are plenty) and try to implement work-arounds in the code. The other alternative was to upgrade the entire codebase to run on top of a more modern PHP version, in itself a herculean task because of all the breaking changes between different versions of the language (with deprecated and newly introduced behaviors). Also, this upgrade would only be useful until the new PHP version reached end of life itself. 

This situation diverts valuable resources away from innovation and improvement, chaining teams to the task of merely keeping the lights on without advancing business or customer value.


Is There a Better Alternative?


Fortunately, there is a third path available, offering a more sustainable and cost-effective solution: Extended Lifecycle Support services, such as those provided by TuxCare. Opting for extended support breathes new life into legacy applications by ensuring continued security updates for unsupported PHP versions. This approach secures your applications against language-level vulnerabilities without the need to refactor existing codebases, thus avoiding the introduction of breaking changes.

Providing security updates for PHP 5, 7 and out-of support 8 versions across CentOS, AlmaLinux, and Ubuntu operating systems, it enables you to maintain your existing applications running for years after the end-of-life date, giving you more flexibility in planning an eventual migration of the code.


Quantifying the Scale of Legacy Software Challenges


The software landscape is continuously expanding, with new applications being developed in a myriad of programming languages. Meanwhile, the existing software ecosystem – a mix of old and new – requires ongoing security and maintenance. The deprecation and eventual EOL status of older software do not halt its usage, leaving a gap ripe for exploitation by cyber adversaries. 

The same holds true for any language and the vast majority of other software, for that matter. The one thing you can be guaranteed is that threat actors will continue to search for problems, especially for versions of software that are known to still be in use and that will not have any discovered flaws addressed properly.

TuxCare’s PHP Extended Lifecycle Support service is designed to address this very challenge, offering peace of mind to businesses reliant on older PHP versions. By providing crucial security updates without disrupting your existing code, TuxCare enables you to maintain operational continuity, safeguard your digital assets, and allocate development resources toward forward-looking projects rather than backward-focused maintenance.


Extending Support for PHP End-of-Life Versions
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Extending Support for PHP End-of-Life Versions
PHP End-of-Life. Learn more about TuxCare's PHP Extended Lifecycle Support service, designed to offering peace of mind to businesses
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