In this tutorial, we will discuss the ITIL Release and Deployment Management Process. In this chapter, you will learn what is a Release and what is Release Management in ITIL? What is Deployment? and the Definition, Objective, Scope, Roles, Sub-Process of Release and Deployment Management - ITIL V3 Process.
What is ITIL Release and Deployment Management Process?
The ITIL Release and Deployment Management is the process of managing, planning, scheduling and controlling the rollout of IT Services, updates & releases to the production environment.
Here, the "Release" means the development of a newer version of a service or component, whereas the "Deployment" means the process of integrating it into the production environment.
The other part, the Deployment Management is controlled and regulated by the Transition Planning & Support and Service Validation & Testing processes for ensuring proper implemenation of a new release on top of the old version.
Further, the deployment section also has to work togather with incident management for a small period of time when new releases are just deployed to production.
What is a Release and What are the Types of Releases in ITIL?
Before proceeding further deep into the Release and Deployment Management Process, Let's first make a clear understanding of What is a Release in ITIL? and What are the release types defined in ITIL?
As defined in ITIL, a release (also known as release package) is a set of authorized changes to an IT service or component. That means a release may include hardware, software, processes, documentation, or any other components that are necessary to successfully implementing an approved change to your IT services.
Most of the ITIL-abiding organizations create and maintain their own release policies, which help to define how those releases would be numbered, how often they will develop new releases, and how those releases would be deployed (See: ITIL Release management approaches section described below).
As part of the standard release policy, ITIL encourages every organization to create their own system for categorizing new releases. Categories typically include:
- Major Releases - A major release is such a revision, that contain new hardware or software component. Generally, a major release is meant to introduce completely new functionality. These are identified by the first whole number in the version number string, such as v1.0, v2.0 etc.
- Minor Releases - It is the means of marking significant changes/improvements to existing functionality. The minor release often contains several numbers of fixes, packed together in one release package. The minor releases are typically denoted as the digits after the 1st decimal point, such as v1.1, v1.2, v1.3, v1.4 etc.
- Emergency Releases - As the words mean, it is the release to fix some bugs that need immediate attention. These are often released as a temporary fix until the next major or minor releases. Emergency releases are typically denoted by the numbers written after the 2nd decimal point, such as v1.1.1, v1.1.2, v1.1.3, v1.1.4 etc.
ITIL Release and Deployment Management Objective:
The primary objective of ITIL Release and Deployment Management Process is to plan, schedule and control the release and deployment of IT Services, updates to the production environment. It also ensures the integrity of the production environment by rolling out only sufficiently tested services & components.
Some other important objectives of Release Management are as follows:
- Ensures faster delivery of changed services at an optimum cost.
- Reduces the risk by ensuring that only authorized releases are deployed.
- Successful and on schedule deployment of release package.
- Ensures that the New or changed services can meet the agreed service requirements.
- Deploying new services with minimal effect on live production processes.
- Ensures proper knowledge Transfer to Users, Operations & Support Staff.
ITIL Release and Deployment Management Scope:
As defined in ITIL V3, the scope of Release and Deployment Management process includes all Configuration Items (CIs) that are required to develop and implement a release.
Some of most important CIs that are included in the scope are::
- Virtual and physical assets
- Applications and software
- Training for staff and users
- All related contracts and agreements
But you must remember that any testing that is performed as part of the Service Validation & Testing Process, or the actual process of change authorization does not fall under the scope of this process.
Approaches for Release and Deployment Management:
As described in ITIL v3, Release and Deployment Management follows six approaches for implementing any new release. Those are Big bang, Phased, Push, Pull, Automated, and Manual approach.
The below image shows the categorization, followed by brief descriptions of those approaches:
1) Big Bang Approach:
- In this approach, the new or changed service is deployed to all user areas at a single time.
- This approach is used at the time of introducing a very critical application change and when consistency of service across the organization is utmost important.
- The negative side of the Big Bang approach is that it increases the risk and impact associated with a failed Release.
2) Phased Approach:
- In this approach, services are initially deployed to a part of the user base, and if no issue observed, then the deployment is repeated for subsequent parts of the user base via a scheduled rollout plan.
- Some scenarios such as installing new applications take this approach to minimize the impact on current operation.
- This is the most commonly used deployment approach under the ITIL release and deployment management process.
3) The Push Approach:
- This approach is used where the service component is deployed from a central location and pushed out to the target locations at a predefined time.
- In terms of service deployment, it delivers updated service components to all users, either at the same time or in phases.
- Operating system patch deployment through inventory management system within an organization is an example of this.
4) The Pull Approach:
- This approach is used for software releases where the software is made available in a central location, and users are invited to pull the software down to their own location at their convenience.
5) Automated Approach:
- This deployment management approach utilizes the technology to automate Releases.
- This helps to ensure repeatability and consistency.
- For Example, Windows update release or antivirus definition updates are deployed through automated approach.
6) Manual Approach:
- Depends on manual activities to distribute a release.
- This release technique is used when the released update is known to have some system dependencies and need manual checking of the systems before deployment.
- It is very important to monitor the manual activities as they are likely to be more error prone due to extensive human intervention.
ITIL Release and Deployment Management Sub-Process:
As per ITIL, there are six sub-processes operating under this process. Below are the objectives and descriptions of those sub-processes, followed by a diagram describing the ITIL Release and Deployment Management Process Flow.
1) Release Management Support:
This sub-process provides guidelines and support for the deployment of releases. This process defines all the roles who are involved in the release management and deployment management of a service or component.
2) Release Planning:
Used to assign authorized changes to release packages. It also defines the scope and content of Releases according to the release management policy.
Release planning process is also responsible for defining a schedule for building, testing and deploying the Release.
3) Release Build:
This sub-process is responsible for the issuance of all necessary Work Orders and Purchase Requests of release components. It decides that if the components would be bought from outside vendors or to be developed/ customized in-house.
This process deals with the actual development of all required Release components and makes sure that they are ready for validation & testing.
4) Release Deployment:
Manages the deployment of the Release components into the live production environment. This process is also responsible for providing documentation & training to end-users and operating staff.
5) Early Life Support:
This stage is initiated at the initial period after the deployment of new releases, to resolve operational issues quickly and to remove any remaining errors or deficiencies.
This is the time when the release and deployment management team works parallel with the incident management team.
6) Release Closure:
This release closure sub-process is initiated to formally close a Release Order, and verifying if the activity logs and CMS contents are properly updated.
Important Terminologies and Definitions:
Below lists some of the most common terminologies that are frequently used under the ITIL Release and Deployment Management Process.
- A release (AKA a Release Package) consists of a single Release Unit or a structured set of Release Units.
- A Release Unit is a set of new, changed and/or unchanged Configuration Items (CIs), which are tested and introduced into the production environment to incorporate one or several approved changes.
- One release unit could be as small as a Desktop PC, including hardware, software, licenses, and documentation, or it can be as large as a complete financial application, including IT operations procedures and user training.
- A set of rules for deploying releases into the operational environment and defining the recommended release approach depending on their urgency and impact.
- This is used as a foundation base for release planning sub-process.
Development Work Order:
- A Work Order for the development or customization of a service, application, or system, typically issued from Release Management.
Installation Work Order:
- A Work Order for the installation of a service, application, system, or components, typically issued from the release and deployment management.
- A Release Record contains all necessary details about a release, documenting the history of the release from the initial planning stages till the closure.
ITIL Release and Deployment Management Roles:
Release and Deployment Manager:
- This Release and Deployment Manager role is the Process Owner of this ITIL release and deployment management process.
- Sometimes this role is also termed as just the Release Manager or as the Deployment Manager.
- The Release and Deployment Manager is responsible for planning and controlling the movement of releases to test and production environments.
- This role is also responsible for protecting the integrity of the live environment by ensuring the release of correct and well-tested release components.
- The Release and Deployment Manager is responsible for managing the entire release management team and their activities.
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