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The difference between release and deployment in software engineering management (metrics to track)

July 11th, 2022
Data-Driven Decisions
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Most software companies release updates daily, pushing bug fixes, security updates, speed enhancements, and occasionally releasing new features for customers. To keep up with the promise of cloud computing, microservices, and quick, frequent feature releases, many enterprises are optimizing the way they do CI/CD for better software delivery. 

However, despite the continuous deployment optimization, production outages still occur sometimes. This happens because software release and deployment are two different processes, although, in enterprise release management, they are often used interchangeably. 

At Waydev, we understand how complex these activities are and, as an engineer manager, how crucial it is to better strategize your release and deployment processes by visualizing essential success metrics. This article aims to clarify the differences between software release and deployment and share techniques to improve the two processes. Also, we will explain what metrics you need to track to scale deployments and releases.

What is deployment in software engineering?

Software deployment is a technical term that refers to all the activities required to make a software system available for use.

Deployment involves several interrelated activities at different levels: at the producer, consumer, or both. Each activity’s specific processes or methods are hard to define because every software system is different. As such, deployment should be understood as a general process tailored to meet particular software development requirements or characteristics.

The deployment process handles all the necessary technological verifications without the risks associated with production traffic. It’s a routine and risk-free process that allows developers to test the new version of their software.

Deployment is the final stage of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), a process designed to assist engineering teams in producing software of the best caliber while using the fewest financial and human resources possible.

Activities involved in the deployment process

The deployment process flow consists of three main activities: pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment.

How to scale deployment activities?

Deployment was a software development challenge, but thanks to the automation of development processes, increased velocity for software deployments with fewer failures is possible. 

Many factors contribute to the success of deployment processes. Here are a few strategies you can adapt to scale your deployment activities:

waydev dora metrics dashboard
Waydev’s DORA Metrics Dashboard collects information from CI/CD pipelines and enables engineering executives to perform automated data analysis.

What is software release in engineering?

Compared to deployment, which is more of a technical tactic, software release in engineering is more of a business term, closely tied to customer experience and business strategy.

According to Software Release Methodology by Michael E. Bays, software release methodology is “a field that unifies a number of previously abstract endeavors that occur during software product development. By unifying these abstract endeavors, we provide a more efficient, well-understood path from development to product release.”

The release activity comes after the development process is finished and is occasionally categorized as a step in the development process rather than the deployment phase. When you release software, you must consider all the steps to get a system ready for assembly and transfer to the computer system/systems used during production. 

As a result, you also need to figure out the resources required for the system to run, plan, and/or document the subsequent deployment steps.

In short, software release comes after the deployment. But given the complexity of the release management process, you also need clear guidelines in place for planning, designing, coordinating, and testing the release before it is deployed in an operational environment.

The most common release categories 

What do the primary release activities mean?

How to scale software release activities

The need for software release management is growing as more companies switch to data-driven Agile software development techniques.

For a Software Release Management process to be effective, you must set clear goals, such as keeping a live production environment’s integrity or accurately releasing software components.

As an enterprise release manager, to ensure the software release’s success, you should follow a set of key metrics to evaluate how your team is performing, similarly to what you would do in the case of scaling your deployment process.

We recommend you keep track of commit KPIs, such as Commits per Active Day, Commits Volume, or Cycle Time, as these are velocity metrics that will give you a clear picture of how fast and efficient your team is releasing.

waydev cycle time breakdown

By keeping track of these performance metrics, you’ll be able to scale the velocity of the software release management process. Creating a dashboard can be time-consuming, so with a feature like our Project Timeline, you can automatically see how your team’s work focus and volume modify over time.

What are the main differences between software release and deployment?

By now, you know what deployment and software releases are. The primary difference between software release and deployment comes down to business objectives. 

Deployment doesn’t always imply that users have access to the functionality. Some businesses will roll out the software at the same time that production deployments are happening, but other companies might choose to wait in case new features need to be added.

In short, software releases are visible to the public, and clients can use the feature released, whereas a deployment is not always visible to the customer. Software companies make the deployment visible only to a small fraction of their customers.

Methodologies used in deployment and software release 

Another critical difference between deployment vs. software release is the methodologies used to perform these processes.

Below are the principal methodologies used in deployment:

On the other hand, the primary methodologies used in software release are different, as they look at different criteria:

Wrapping up: how can you improve the success of deployments and software releases?

By keeping track of the most crucial deployment and software release indicators, you can paint a complete picture of the evolution of your team’s work, thus helping you improve your deployments and releases. Our solution gathers and examines information and insights from your engineering stack to assist you in streamlining your deployment and release processes.

On top of monitoring essential KPIs, it’s as important to adopt good practices that will help you and your team to streamline these two processes:

Contact us to find out how Waydev can help you scale the velocity of your deployment and software release processes!

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