DevOps Release Management

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 Delivery/Deployment.

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.

Let’s Begin!

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.
  • Release Value Stream: This process adds or creates value across the release pipeline.
  • Release Template: This is a single, repeatable release pipeline workflow that follows an organization’s release policies and includes human and automated activities.
  • Release Policy: 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 environment.
  • 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 priorities.
  • Major Releases: These are infrequent release packages that often include several release units, with high or critical business impact.
  • Minor Releases: These are more frequent release packages with fewer release units that unlike major releases, do not include mission-critical components.

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 continuous delivery/deployment.

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 successful deliveries.

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 practice:

  • 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 pipeline.
  • Automation: 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 customer impact.

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 extensibility.
  • Ansible: 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.
  • Chef: 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.
  • Clarive: 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 requirements.
  • 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 configurations.
  • 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 quality.


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.