Goal oF Release Management
Many service providers and suppliers may be involved in the Release of Hardware and software in a distributed environment. Good resources planning and management are essential to package and distribute a Release successful to the Customer. Release Management takes a holistic view of a change to an IT service and should ensure that all aspect of a release, both technical and non-technical, are considered together.
The goals of Release Management are:
- To plan and oversee the successful rollout of software and related hardware
- To design and implement efficient procedures for the distribution and installation of Changes to IT systems
- To ensure that hardware and software is changed and is traceable, secure and that only correct, authorized and tested versions are installed
- To communicate and manage expectations of the customer during the planning and rollout of New Releases
- To agree on the exact content and rollout plan for the Release, through liaison with Change Management
- To implement new software Releases or hardware into the operational environment using the controlling processes of Configuration Management and Change Management – a Release should be under Change Management and may consist of any combination of hardware, software, firmware and document CIs
- To ensure that master copies of all software are secured in the Definitive Software Library (DSL) and that the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is updated
- To ensure that all hardware being rolled out or changed is secure and traceable, using the services of Configuration Management
The focus of Release Management is the protection of the live environment and its services through the use of formal procedures and checks. Release Management works closely with the Change Management and Configuration Management processes to ensure that the shared CMDB is kept up-to-date following changes implemented by new Releases and that the content of those releases is stored in the DSL. Hardware specifications, assembly instructions and network configurations are also stored in the DSL/CMDB. Release Management is often funded from major projects rather than being included in the cost of the normal service to Customers. Although there are costs associated with implementing Release Management, these are far less than the potential costs of not adequately planning, managing and controlling software and hardware Releases.
The scope of Release Management
Release Management undertakes the planning, design, build, configuration and testing of hardware and software to create a set of Release components for a live environment. Activities also cover the planning, preparation, and scheduling of a Release too many Customers and locations.
Release Management activities include:
- Release policy and planning
- Release design, build and configuration
- Release Acceptance
- Rollout planning
- Extensive testing to predefined acceptance criteria
- Sign-off of the Release for implementation
- Communication, preparation, and training
- Audits of hardware and software prior to and following the implementation of Changes
- Installation of new or upgraded hardware
- Storage of controlled software in both centralized and distributed systems
- Release, distribution and the installation of software
The main components to be controlled are:
- Application programs developed in-house
- Externally developed in-house
- Utility software
- Supplier-provided systems software
- Hardware, and hardware specifications
- Assembly instructions and documentation, including user manuals
All deliverable’s need to be managed effectively, from development or purchasing, through customisation and configuration, through testing and implementation, to operation in the live environment.
Figure 9.1 Major activities in Release Management
Release Management should be used for:
- Large or critical hardware roll-outs, especially when there is a dependency on a related software change in the business systems i.e. not every single PC that needs to be installed
- Major software roll-outs, especially initial instances of new applications along with accompanying software distribution and support procedures for subsequent use if required
- Bundling or batching related sets of Changes into manageable-sized units.
Figure 9.1 outlines the major activities in Release Management and their position in the life-cycle of a Change. Configuration Management records should be updated during the build and Release to ensure that there are trusted Releases that can be reverted to in case of problems A release should be under Change Management and the content and timing of a Release should be authorized in advance via the Change Management process.