What is Release Management?

As systems, processes, and resources become more distributed, they invariably become more specialized.  Furthermore, software products (especially web-based apps) are typically in an ongoing cycle of development, testing, and release.  Add to this an evolution in the platforms on which these systems run, and you’ve got a lot of moving pieces that must fit together to guarantee the success and long term value of a product or project.

The need exists for a resource to oversee the development, testing, deployment, and support of these systems.  This resource must have a general knowledge of every aspect of the SDLC, various operating systems and software application platforms, and an understanding of different business functions and perspectives.  Release Management addresses this need.

Release Management is the discipline (art, science, strategy, headache) of building, packaging, and deploying software for consumption.

A Release Manager is:

  • Architect – the release manager helps to identify, create, and implement processes or products to efficiently manage the release of code.
  • Gatekeeper – a release manager “holds the keys” to production systems and takes responsibility for their quality and availability.
  • Facilitator – a release manager serves as a liaison between varying business units and users to guarantee smooth and timely delivery of software products or updates.

There’s an apparent scarcity of information out there on release management in general (at least there is a tag for it at Technorati).  There’s stuff about change management, configuration management, defect tracking, source control, etc., etc.  But there’s not a lot of general info about the overall process of managing code releases.  I’d like to change that.  I’ll be posting on various release related issues as often as I can.

If you’ve ever had issues with building, deploying or releasing code for consumption, I’d like to hear about it.  This is the place for it!


10 Responses to “What is Release Management?”

  1. Patrik Says:

    Hi, I am setting up a release management function for a telco company, and I am guided by ITIL RM and its relations to Change, Configuration and Applications Management.

    I am now looking for tools to manage part of the work, mainly by linking from PinkElephant.com. But I cannot find any company with a really strong ITIL-“compliant” RM tool.

    Do you have any good ideas on the subject of tools for coordinating RM?

  2. theReleaseGuy Says:

    Hi Patrik,

    Unfortunately, I’m unaware of any specifically ITIL compliant build/release management tools.  Most tools talk about ITIL compliance, but they’re usuaally designed for only one aspect of the release process.  All of the tools I suggest are, in some sense, at least capable of supporting an ITIL compliant process.

    I’ve found Cruise Control to be a really handy tool for helping to manage releases.

    In my organization, we use a handful of different tools to coordinate different aspects of release management. The primary toolsets needed are:

    Change Management tools – some kind of system to manage approval, notification, and tracking of releases (http://www.infra-corp.com/).

    Build/Release tools – utilities like ANT and Cruise Control allow for integrated build, automation, and reporting.

    SCM – source control systems (VSS, Perforce, Subversion)

    Dependency management – this is one area that seems to be lacking right now. We ended up building our own custom system to manage dependencies in our apps/systems.

    I hope this is helpful!

  3. ReleasePM Says:

    There is a new tool available from Quest Software that manages complex releases for distributed applications. http://www.quest.com/foglight_release_manager/


  4. Michael Says:

    Just happened onto this site and I am really enjoying reading threw it. Thanks for putting this together, ReleaseGuy.

    An answer to the question above:

    Please take a look at Mercury’s IT Governance / Deployment Manager. It’s loaded!!!


  5. theReleaseGuy Says:

    Hi Michael,

    Cool, thanks for stopping by!

    I’ll be sure to check out Mercury’s stuff, sounds nice.

    Happy releases!


  6. tina Says:

    hi all…..my new boss asked me to launch release management process. anyone who has any sample report to share? quite new to me.

    hope someone can help

    thank you in advance

  7. http://google.com Says:

    I tend to agree with every aspect that is written in “What is Release Management?
    Release Management”. Many thanks for all of the actual information.
    Thanks for the post-Janice

  8. Fawn Says:

    I really like it when folks come together and
    share ideas. Great site, continue the good work!

  9. Lorv Says:

    How’s things?, sometimes I see a 404 server error when I browse your site. I thought you may wish to know, best wishes

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