DevOps Release Management
To adapt to the rapid pace of development that customers
today have come to expect as well as to stay competitive and
relevant, organizations worldwide are embracing DevOps
methodologies and technologies to accelerate innovation and
shorten the development life cycle. DevOps helped
organizations to align and synergize development and operation
processes to enhance collaboration, communication, security,
and ensure Continuous Integration and Continuous
However, the impact of DevOps wasn’t just limited to
software development. The adoption of the DevOps philosophy
led to a shift in the role of release management as well.
Though still critical to the DevOps environment, Release
Management has evolved to ensure iterative, secure, and
continuous delivery while maintaining maximum efficiency.
In this article, we will discuss this evolution of Release
Management since DevOps adoption to understand its
significance in the current agile development model as well as
its impact on software deployment.
What is Release Management?
Release Management is an essential part of the software
development life cycle (SDLC) and entails planning,
scheduling, and controlling a software build through different
stages and environments. In software development and IT
operations, it helps standardize and streamline the
development and operations process while ensuring alignment
with business priorities. It is one of the key processes of
SDLC, which, if implemented accurately, helps organizations
reduce quality issues and increase successful releases.
Moreover, it enhanced and improved productivity,
communication, and coordination within the organization and
allowed them to deliver a quality software product faster
while reduced risks.
Release Management Process Components:
Though Release Management has evolved over the years, with
advances in technology and best practices and varies from one
SDLC to another, it does have standard components that further
define its process:
Release Pipeline: It is a specific release process from feature planning to
Release Value Stream: This process adds or creates value across the release
Release Template: This is a single, repeatable release pipeline workflow
that follows an organization’s release policies and
includes human and automated activities.
It is a set of rules for how releases are deployed to the
live operational environment. Moreover, it defines release
types, standards, governance requirements for an
organization, and more.
Release Plan: A release template prepared for a specific release.
Deployment Plan: Highlights the
activities to deploy a release to the production
Release Unit: These are a set of artifacts or configuration items
released together into the live environment to implement a
specific feature or approved changes.
Release Package: It is a combination of one or more release units,
deployed together as a single release due to certain
interdependencies, scheduling, or business
Major Releases: These are infrequent release packages that often include
several release units, with high or critical business
Minor Releases: These are more frequent release packages with fewer
release units that unlike major releases, do not include
Now that we understand the basics of release management let
us move on to unraveling its role in DevOps.
Release Management in DevOps:
As stated earlier, Release Management has evolved
tremendously over the years. However, it was DevOps that had
the greatest impact on the process of release management,
along with the concept of Continuous Integration/Continuous
Delivery. DevOps, with its idea of collaboration and seamless
communication, brought the development and operations teams
together, connecting two disconnected stages of the
development life cycle and making releases more frequent with
This further increased the need for seamless participation,
collaboration, and engagement of multiple participants for
software delivery as well as the product’s complete
alignment with business priorities, without which the agile
system risks flooding users with low-quality software.
All of this made release management more critical for the
success of the entire process and the product. Release
Management is responsible for successfully creating the
continuous flow to production that DevOps strives for while
simultaneously aligning work within the team and across the
organization. Moreover, ensures coordination with the DevOps
manager to enact and monitor the continuous integration and
delivery in the DevOps pipeline.
In short, DevOps release management provides an enormous
opportunity to improve the software delivery cycle of an
organization and make business more agile and efficient
Benefits of Release Management in DevOps:
The release management varies from one project/organization
to another as it continues to evolve with the changing
infrastructure and technologies of the IT and software
industry. However, to ensure its success, each organization
needs to tailor the release management process to meet their
requirements, using the following best practice:
Helps deliver value to customers.
Improves deployment efficiency.
Offers scalable risk management.
Ensures faster and consistent delivery.
Automates release processes.
Enables strong auditing and traceability of changes.
Makes releases stress-free.
Boost quality and confidence through consistent and
DevOps Release Management Best Practices:
The process of release management varies from one
project/organization to another, as it continues to evolve
with the changing infrastructure and technologies of the IT
and software industry. However, to ensure its success, each
organization needs to tailor the release management process to
meet their requirements, using the following best
Define Success Criteria:
The team, product owners, release managers, and quality
managers should define key release metrics and acceptance
criteria before initiating the process.
Streamlined CI/CD and QA: Integrate
QA, automation, and testing earlier in the development
cycle to identify potential issues faster and reduce the
time spent in feedback loops. This will streamline delivery
and make it easier to maintain a consistent CI/CD
Improve the efficiency of your team, processes, and
technology by automating processes.
Ensure Immutable Development: Reduce errors and bugs that could appear from changing
current configurations and make releases inherently more
reliable with immutable development.
Strive for Minimal User Impact: Prepare a collaborative incident response plan and
implement proactive testing, active monitoring, and
real-time collaborative alerting to reduce downtime and
DevOps Release Management Tools:
With software releases becoming more frequent and the cycle
being more compressed, there is an excessive need for DevOps
Release Management tools that can help DevOps teams to keep up
with the relentless pace of the release cycle. Today, more and
more such tools are coming up in the marketplace to help
organizations effectively implement release management.
Therefore, to help you make an informed decision, here are
some of the best DevOps Release Management tools:
Jenkins: One of the most-used tools for CI/CD, Jenkins, is an
open-source release management tool that helps release
managers source the code, organize the release, and keep
deployments on schedule, all in one place through a
combination of automation, visibility, and
Another popularly used tool, Ansible is a configuration
management, application deployment, and cloud provisioning
tool that automates and shortens the feedback loop of
numerous tasks along the software delivery pipeline. It is
one of the most beneficial tools that rapidly deploy,
iterate, and test systems in production.
An open-source CI/CD tool for automating and
orchestrating releases in any environment, Chef offers
security, compliance, speed, and reliability to
applications and infrastructure through improved
transparency and automation. Moreover, it has an
easy-to-use web interface that keeps track of all current
and previous release details, allowing teams to maintain a
continuous cadence of reliable service releases.
XL Release: It is an end to end release management tool that helps
pipeline orchestration for Continuous Delivery and DevOps
teams. Suitable for both manual and automated tasks, it
easily manages advanced release pipeline and identifies
bottlenecks to reduce the number of errors.
Designed to simplify, automate, and speed up the whole
release management process, Clarive application release
management tool helps manage different environments to
ensure speed and reliability of application delivery and
is suitable for release automation and orchestration
IBM UrbanCode Release: One of the most popular tools, IBM UrbanCode, is a
release automation tool that can combine visibility,
traceability, and auditing capabilities as well as deploy
applications to various environments automatically. It
offers easy integration with IBM RQM to run quality tests
and track user activity and rollback to previously saved
LaunchDarkly: Another popular tool, LaunchDarkly allows software teams
to progress quicker with reduced risks. It is the go-to
tool for implementing simple rules from Concept to Launch
and then to Value. It provides complete control over the
timing of feature releases and offers support to some of
the most popular programming languages like Go, .NET,
Python, Node.js, Ruby, etc.
Tasktop Integration Hub: It is the one-stop solution for handling all the software
delivery integration needs, as it offers software
integration for all of the organization’s tools.
With connectivity for over 45 tools, Tasktop provides the
provision to add a new tool to the existing software
integration without affecting the integration process and
In this age of cut-throat competition, release management has
become increasingly important for organizations to implement
during SDLC, as it allows them to assess even the agile DevOps
processes and maintain the quality, standard, and
effectiveness of their end product deployment and delivery. It
is one of the core processes that can be modified according to
your business requirements and emphasizes consistency in
improving teamwork and feedback channels.