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Service Support Release Management
The focus of ITIL Release Management is the protection of the live environment and its services through the use of formal procedures and checks. Working in conjunction with ITIL Change and Configuration Management, Release Management is employed for:
  • Large, major or critical Changes
  • Bundling or batching related sets of Changes into manageable-sized units
ITIL Release Management's goal is to protect the live or production environment services through use of formal procedures and checks.
Benefits of ITIL Release Management
  • Benefits of ITIL Release Management combined with effective Configuration, Change and Operational testing are:
  • Increased success rate in the Release of hardware and software and improved quality of service delivered to the business
  • Consistency in the Release processes of hardware platforms and software environments
  • Minimize disruption of service to the business, via synchronization of Releases within packages involving hardware and software components from different platforms and environments
  • Assurance of hardware and software in live use is of known quality, as Releases built properly, components subject to quality control and effective testing, constructed under ITIL Change Management
  • Stable test and live environments, as Changes normally combined into Releases with fewer individual implementations
  • Efficient use of User  resources as efforts combined when testing new Releases - easier to justify cost of system-wide regression testing
  • Minimizes regression-testing requirements, offering greater coverage than possible with small Changes that occur frequently or are too close together
  • Improved expectation setting within an organization on publication of Release schedule in advance
  • Error reduction via controlled Release of hardware and software to the live environment
  • Audit trail of Changes to the live environment is maintained, both for software distributions and hardware Changes
  • Control and safeguarding of hardware and software assets, on which organization are heavily dependent
  • Ability to absorb high rates of Change  to live systems, effectively and without adversely affecting IT  service quality. Achieved by releasing large number of Changes together as a single, controlled and well-understood Release
  • Ability to build and control software used at remote sites from a central location
  • Reduced support costs through ability to maintain consistent software over a large number of locations
  • Reduced likelihood of illegal software copies in use at any location
  • Easier detection of incorrect versions and unauthorized copies of software
  • Reduced risk of unnoticed introduction of viruses and other malicious software
  • Reduced time to Release with fewer delays
  • Fewer Releases rolled out to Customers
  • Smoother transitions of Releases from development activities (projects) to Customer's business environment
As efficiency and effectiveness of ITIL Release Management grows, productivity of IT  services staff is likely to increase. Productivity benefits are likely to be realized amongst end Users by fewer Releases, which are better planned, with appropriate training and documentation of a higher quality.
Possible problems
Potential problems are:
  • Initial staff resistance to change from old procedures. Mount awareness campaign explaining benefits, and encourage close working relationship with team implementing Changes
  • Often teams in most need of help with Release Management have the least time to adopt it. Identify minimal-impact ways to gain a foothold and provide some hands-on assistance at the beginning
  • Circumvention of Release Management procedures may be attempted, deal with firmly, particularly if it involves installation of unauthorized software as most likely cause of viruses. Untested software makes support very difficult and costly
  • Staff maybe tempted to bypass standard procedures to install an emergency fix. These should be banned and disallowed by software security rules as far as possible
  • Reluctance to carry out controlled builds in a test environment, relying instead on copying over software from development environment
  • Distributed system difficulties may arise if new versions of software / hardware are not installed or activated on time at remote locations. Use software distribution tools backed up by regular audits, to help avoid problems
  • Release Management procedures viewed as cumbersome and expensive. It is invariably necessary to cope efficiently and effectively with software Changes
  • Unclear ownership and responsibilities between operational groups and development teams (project teams) may exist
  • Insufficient resources available for adequate testing will reduce effectiveness of procedures, also high number of variants in live environment may limit complete testing
  • Insufficient machine and network resources available. May be impossible to build and test new Releases and equipment adequately in a timely fashion. Time needs to be allowed in testing for the Release to fail first time and then be reworked. Back-out procedures also need to be proven in a controlled test environment
  • Lack of understanding of Release contents, build and installation components, can lead to mistakes
  • Testing in one area may be acceptable but may fail in another area
  • Staff reluctant to back out a Release, due to pressure to transfer inadequately tested software / hardware into the live or production environment
  • Poor, restricted or non-representative testing environments and procedures may exist
Costs associated with implementing ITIL Release Management are outweighed by benefits. Costs include:
  • Development of best practices and procedures for Release and  rollout management
  • Education and training
  • Staff costs
  • Definitive Software Library (DSL)  storage costs
  • Build, test, distribution and archive environments for both hardware and software
  • Secure equipment stores (physical accommodation)
  • Spare equipment (hot-swaps for failures in live environment)
  • Computer and network resources moving software into and out of the DSL, building, distributing and implementing software Releases
  • Software support tools, as well as additional hardware and software to run tools
  • Effort to automate procedures (e.g. build, storage and distribution)
  • Initial operating costs (learning curve)
  • Installation and management of the distribution and staging servers
  • Software distribution costs
Without adequate control, organizations are at risk from computer fraud, inadvertent software corruption, software viruses and other malicious software - rectifications costs may be immense.


2010-05-11 by "duncandeklerk"

Summarises it well

2014-07-29 by "aquariansona.23"

Thanks for sharing the above information. Short and crisp. Really helped understanding the basics of it.
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Tags; ITIL Release & Deployment Management, ITIL Change Management, Release Management, Definitive Software Library
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