Release Management In ITIL vernacular, a Release is a collection of new and/or changed items that have been tested and introduced into the live environment.
IT operations groups continue to struggle with the incorporation of application, infrastructure and operational Changes into their IT production environments. According to Meta Group, through 2008, IT operations groups will increasingly seek to maintain/improve change-management service levels by formalizing and adopting processes that enable improved acceptance of change into the production environment (for example, production acceptance, production control, quality assurance and Release Management). You'll have fewer mistakes and surprises with consistent processes guiding release management.
The Goal of Release Management#Release Management provides methodical processes, workflows, and checks and balances throughout the development and testing of a Release. Release Management's end goal is to ensure that a Release has passed through necessary checkpoints before it is put into production. This includes both the technical and the nontechnical aspects of the Release.
You need to understand and resolve, or at least account for, all dependencies before a Release goes live. As a result, you protect the production environment from real, and potential, instabilities and ensures business continuity.
Common Activities #Like other ITIL models, Release Management provides the framework for mapping and implementing processes. However, each organization must decide how best to prepare, test and document a change before they introduce it into the network. Change is inevitable, and the rate of change in technology increases every day.
Some changes may meet predefined criteria that classify them as so minor they may be rolled into production with little testing. On the other end of the spectrum, major changes must pass through significant processes involving several people or groups. The key, however, is that processes be pre-established and followed in each case.
Some of the more common activities of Release Management include:
- plan the Release policy to include requirements gathering and design
- test extensively to predefined acceptance criteria
- take ownership of the Release as a project champion and to provide final sign-off
- define clear Release acceptance, as well as sign-off procedures for implementation so all involved parties agree to final quality
- plan a formal roll out; you should "plan the work, then work the plan"
- communicate, prepare and train
- perform audits to ensure predicted and desired outcome
- store controlled software in both centralized and distributed systems
- release, distribute and install software
- create back-out plans for each Release as a contingency
Benefits of Release Management#You'll have fewer mistakes and surprises with consistent processes guiding Release Management. Benefits of Release Management include:
- higher success and efficiency rates in hardware and software Releases
- fewer regression-testing requirements
- fewer errors throughout the Release process
- higher rates of Change to the live systems
- lighter loads for remote site administrators because building and testing processes are centralized
- lower support costs by maintaining consistent software across many locations
- faster and fewer Release cycles
- less disruption to the business environment
- smoother transitions from the development environment to the production environment