Why do we need release management?

In IT, release management encompasses planning, coordinating, and verifying the deployment of IT solutions into production.  Release management requires collaboration by the IT delivery team(s) producing the solutions and the people responsible for your organization’s operational IT infrastructure.  In the case of organizations with a “you build it, you run it” DevOps mindset these people may be one in the same, although even in these situations you will often find a group of people responsible for governing the overall release management effort.

There are several reasons why enterprises adopt release management strategies:

  1. They have a complex operational infrastructure.  The greater the complexity of your operational infrastructure the greater the risk that the release of new functionality into production will break something, hence the greater need for release management.  Operational infrastructures become complex when there are many technologies in place, when there are different versions or configurations of those technologies, and when solutions are highly coupled to one another.  Ideally you should strive to pay down this technical debt.
  2. There are many delivery teams working in parallel.  Your operational infrastructure is a shared environment, or more accurately a collection of shared environments, that your IT delivery teams deploy into.  As the number of delivery teams rises, the greater the chance that their release efforts will conflict with one another.
  3. IT delivery teams need help to release their solutions into production.  Your IT delivery teams, particularly new ones, may not have much experience deploying solutions into your operational environment.  Your release management team can coach your IT delivery teams in effective release strategies, can guide them in ensuring that their solutions are production ready, and can help in the planning and coordination of their release efforts.

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