In some cases, these customers demand to be lied to - there's no way of meeting the "don't change anything!" at the same time as "keep the new stuff working!" (And "new stuff" isn't just hardware support.)
Clearly, I have a personal opinion on the matter. (Which, strangely enough, doesn't align with my pay cheque. ;-)
It's worth noting that some enterprise products fare quite well by putting the QA on top of upstream; I've got my blinders on here, but it works really well for the cluster stuff so far - we keep releasing, essentially, a QA'ed version of upstream-latest and support that. We work with upstream to ensure that a smooth upgrade is feasible, and that new features do not disrupt existing installations. And upstream for cluster stuff tends to be rather quality-conscious. Yes, even then, there are jumps that need to be carefully planned, but overall, it is sustainable without backports.
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