Release management (the current Release & Deployment management in ITIL®) process is (as it should be) covering all releases those are deployed into the IT Service environment.
Traditionally in the IT domain, the ‘release’ term is more associated with software than hardware or any other assets. However in ITIL®’s approach to ITSM, the release always been ‘a collection of authorized changes’. These authorized changes can be software, hardware, their combination (service, servers, and infrastructure), configuration changes etc.
Having said this, though ITIL® principally goes with an all-encompassing definition of the word ‘Release’, the documentation of Release & Deployment Management often seem to slip into a (probably unintentional) bias towards Software. Such an inconsistency can lead to some significant misinterpretation of the best-practice, and the focus of release management can get confined into software alone.
Let us look at how ITIL® (specifically referring to the 2011 edition) introduces the Release and deployment management process:
The Scope of Release includes: ‘Physical assets such as servers, network, virtual assets, Applications and software, Trainings, Services including agreements and contracts’
However, the stated objectives of Release and Deployment contain statements like:
“…and that all release packages are stored in DML and recorded accurately in CMS”
“Deploy release packages from DML to live environment…”
DML is for software media components. So where are release packages containing Hardware stored? In DML itself? Such an interpretation unfortunately doesn’t fit with the definition and explanation of DML – where in, the references are only include Software and media components. (These references to DML are more prominent in 2011 edition, though was there for v3 as well).
Can Definitive Spares (DS) be the area where the Hardware components are controlled prior to deployment to the production environment? One tends to think it could be. But that is no where referred.
Coming back to the central point of this post, to create a right interpretation of the scope of ‘Release’, it is important that the following one of the following points are taken care of – either in the ITIL® documentation, or by the practitioners during the interpretation of the same:
· The Scope of Definitive Media Library (DML) should be extended to include ALL release packages. Unfortunately in such a case it will cease to be just a ‘Media Library’. Definitive Release Library (DLR) anyone?
· Keep the scope of DML as is; but set aside/define definitive storage areas for storing and controlling release packages that contain non-software and non-media components (such as hardware) and refer to them from the release management process- the same way DML is referred from release management.
Till this is taken care of effectively, release and deployment management process scope can get constrained to only Software – which would be unfortunate and ineffective.
Any thoughts/ different view points out there on these are welcome…