Release management can seem unnerving as DevOps practices can add great speed and consistency to the software delivery lifecycle. However, DevOps also brings better visibility and collaboration that can streamline the release management process.

The overall idea of release management is quite similar between ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) and DevOps. But there are some key differences, including:

  • ITIL is a particular kind of procedure for IT operations whereas DevOps is continuously refining upon itself.
  • There is no single method to deploy DevOps while ITIL is a set of instructions that everybody should conform.

What makes ITIL challenging is that every team works in a different way. Therefore, it’s not possible to have a one-size-fits-all methodology to IT operations and release management.

DevOps release management is the future of software development and IT operations. In this blog, you’ll explore some best practices for DevOps release management to help you uphold fast deployment schedules for consistent software releases.

Definition of Release Management

Release management refers to the management of the complete software delivery lifecycle. It involves planning, development, testing, and deployment.

Release management is quite similar in both ITIL and DevOps. But the latter supports more collaboration and discernibility throughout the whole delivery process. DevOps shortens feedback loops and encourages easier, quicker release management.

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at how release management varies between ITIL and DevOps.

ITIL release management

ITIL describes release management as the procedure that allows you to manage, plan, and schedule the rollout of IT services, updates, and releases to the production environment. In this setting, release means developing a newer version of a service or component.

DevOps release management

DevOps define release management as the process that helps you plan, schedule, and control the software development and delivery process. However, in this process, both creators and IT operations work together from the start to the end – resulting in fewer, shorter feedback loops and quicker releases.

DevOps experts bear the responsibility for the services they provide. They own the code and share on-call accountabilities. As a result, incidents are perceived and resolved quickly – both during the release process and after - with software designers and IT specialists involved in the complete delivery lifecycle and on-call.

Why is Release Management Needed?

The main goal of release management is to help you with planning, scheduling, and controlling the deployment of IT services and updates into the live environments. Businesses develop and as they do, their requirements vary, so the IT environment has to vary as well.

Release management allows you to make variations effectively and securely. It does so by guaranteeing that only adequately tested services and components are released into the production environment that the company utilizes.

Some other advantages of release management are:

  • Quicker delivery of variations and new features to customers
  • Decreased risk of unauthorized releases breaching features that individuals are using
  • Foreseeable schedule of deployments at times that curtail the business influence
  • Guarantee that new or altered services can fulfill the agreed service requirement
  • Appropriate information transfer to customers and support team

DevOps Release Management Best Practices

Here are a few best practices for DevOps release management:

1. Establish success metrics

The first best practice is to clearly specify your success criteria. This will help you know when things are actually ready to be delivered. Articulate acceptance requirements in both releases and testing will result in more consistent releases.

You can’t be subjective about the success criteria for an effective release. Otherwise, you won’t be able to learn from your errors and keep iterating on the release management process to fathom what works best.

Product vendors, quality supervisors, and release managers must describe important release criteria and settle for acceptance metrics before proceeding with any new project.

2. Continuously work toward least user impact

Diminish user impact of a release by reducing or eliminating downtime and testing for regressions before a release.

Effective release managers are continuously working to decrease downtime and customer impact. You can use hands-on testing, active monitoring, and instantaneous collaborative alerting to recognize problems during a release. In fact, you can often detect issues before a consumer will even notice.

Along with a collective incident management plan, the team can swiftly resolve incidents and proceed toward an effective release.

3. Seek maximum potential from your staging environment

You can ensure a more successful release if you continuously maintain the staging environment and keep it as nearby as possible to your production environment.

Your product owners and quality assurance team should scrutinize staging and run tests to recognize any problems with a new deployment.

You can effortlessly detect problems in staging before implementing the code to production, provided your staging environment is almost identical to production.

A properly designed staging environment will decrease user impact and help DevOps teams make sure that releases fulfill acceptance metrics quickly.

4. Shift left for streamlining CICD pipeline

Another best practice is to move quality assurance, automation, and testing in the initial stages of the development lifecycle. This will allow you to quickly recognize potential problems.

Moreover, it will decrease the time duration otherwise spent in feedback loops, allowing the delivery pipeline to keep proceeding.

By increasingly integrating testing with development workflows, you can easily maintain a reliable CICD pipeline.

5. Make the most of automation

In order to streamline DevOps release management, think about automating everything that can increase the efficiency of your team, procedures, and technology.

Using automation will diminish human error and make everyday operations stress-free for your team - be it on the software development, quality assurance, or IT operations side.

Bu leveraging automation, you can facilitate your people to devote more time to strategic thinking and less time managing daily errands. As a result, you can constantly deliver consistent services to your consumers.

6. Focus on immutable programming whenever possible

In terms of programming, an immutable object is the one whose state can’t be changed once it has been generated.

Rather than changing the configuration of a present machine, deploy a complete image that includes all of the configuration. This prevents bugs from appearing because of an unforeseen series of actions.

As a result, your releases will be innately more consistent, leading to happier consumers and workers.

7. Focus on the people

DevOps procedures typically result in an improved release management structure. They create best practices for cooperation and testing throughout the complete delivery lifecycle.

Although teams are inclined to concentrate on automation as the main value in DevOps, the automation must always be directed toward enhancing the productivity of the team.

As your team will decrease human error and increase operational efficiency, they’ll naturally start releasing dependable services quickly.

DevOps Can Add Speed & Consistency To The Services You Create

These 7 best practices of DevOps release management are just the tip of the iceberg. Think of them as the initial point. With the development of technology and as people continue to learn, your release management procedures must evolve as well. The incessant enhancement of people, procedures, and technology is indispensable to any effective DevOps release management system.

At Amixr, we’re using our expertise and collaborating with engineering teams all across the globe to stop getting overwhelmed with IT operations. We encourage our users to implement new DevOps best practices and focus on creating new products.

illustration by Ouch.pics