DevOps Release Management: Benefits, Stages & Best Practices

Let's explore the concept of DevOps release management, its best practices, and proven tools.

release management circle

DevOps teams often struggle with low deployment frequency, recurring defects, inefficient task management, and skyrocketing rework costs. Managing software iterations is a key solution to these problems. Well-planned DevOps release management can mitigate them and transform how you deliver products to users.

Alpacked is an experienced DevOps company with 100+ successful projects. Over the years, our team has built up expertise in DevOps, Agile, and software release management. 

This article draws from our knowledge blending in the industry’s best practices. It will guide you through software release management, its goals, and ways it can elevate your DevOps process. You will gain insight into efficient strategies and reliable tools to get your software release process in order.

What is Release Management in DevOps?

Release management is the process of managing different versions of software across environments, from pre-development planning to release.

DevOps release management means planning and control over software development at all stages: planning, requirements sizing, testing, assembly, and deployment.

Alpacked highlighted several key points that play an important role in release management for DevOps:

- Coordination of IT resources

- Balance of software development and business

- Risk management and mitigation

- Monitoring the transition to new versions

The release management process may vary from company to company, but the organizations that use it share the same goals.

Why You Need Release Management for DevOps

Release management is essential in DevOps to align current work with business goals and develop a continuous process in the production environment. DevOps emphasizes continuous feedback loops and aims to minimize software changes to reduce the risk of interruptions. Given that, DevOps release management differs from other similar practices. 

Companies that implement DevOps also apply continuous integration (CI), commonly implemented with continuous deployment. But release management solely relies on CI, which maintains centralization. The release policy supports the RASCI requirements, a requirements definition matrix. The typical processes in DevOps also involve automation at all levels—integration, assembly, and testing—to cut down on human resources required for each release. 

rasci matrix template

The release management team collaborates with product owners who act as liaisons between the business, development, and product. This approach ensures an even transition between stages without the need to backtrack to previous steps. Each new stage can only be initiated after the previous one is completed. This process works best when software requirements are well-defined beforehand.


The release management approach covers seven stages of SDLC:

  • Definition of product requirements
  • Analysis in the form of models and business plans
  • Product design of external components and logic
  • Program code writing
  • Software testing and quality assurance
  • Adaptation for different operating systems and product updates
  • Improvement and updates of software functionality and technical maintenance

Clear reporting is critical in release management to easily track requirements, risks, and challenges. It also ensures that goals and objectives set at the very beginning of the project are met throughout the software lifecycle.

Embracing release management as an integral part of the DevOps culture empowers organizations to achieve faster, more reliable, and more successful software releases. This ultimately enhances customer satisfaction and drives business growth. Let’s now explore the specific goals of release management in DevOps.

Goals of Release Management in DevOps

Agile for release management

DevOps release management is crucial for software delivery and service management. Here are some of its core goals.

  • Enhance coordination. Incorporating well-oiled release management practices and tools can help break down the silos between developers, IT operations, and testing teams. It also fosters communication and a culture of shared accountability—which is crucial to successful product delivery.
  • Mitigate risk. Release management helps identify, assess, and manage the risks associated with the release process. It allows deploying software versions incrementally, giving teams more chances to catch issues early and roll back easily if necessary.
  • Optimize business goals. Efficient management ensures that all releases add value to the business and that technical tasks align with strategic goals. 
  • Improve quality assurance. DevOps teams that follow release management practices strive to meet quality benchmarks and industry standards to deliver a more polished product.
  • Streamline software upgrades. Companies implement release management practices to plan each step of the software development lifecycle. This minimizes disruptions, reduces the risk of downtime, and helps the team transition more smoothly between software iterations.

The potential for added value is one of the most compelling aspects of integrating release management into DevOps. Your organization can change its management practices as the need arises. As businesses grow, they can introduce more automation to reduce management labor costs.

Benefits of Release Management for DevOps

Release management in DevOps offers many benefits. It transforms the software development and delivery process, boosts efficiency, and maximizes stakeholder satisfaction. These operational benefits extend to strategic advantages, contributing to an organization's growth.

Improved operational efficiency

Release management streamlines software development and delivery by standardizing and automating tasks. This results in improved coordination, fewer conflicts and delays, and higher quality. 

Puppet's 2023 The State of Platform Engineering Report emphasizes the crucial role of core aspects of release management—fostering functional feedback loops and product management skills—in improving team productivity. Nearly 59% of respondents report greater DevOps productivity after implementing these practices.

Faster time-to-market

By streamlining the entire software development process, release management enables the team to release software faster and reduce time-to-market. This gives organizations a competitive edge as they can deliver value to customers quicker. 

According to Puppet’s 2023 report, release management practices have sped up development for 68% of respondents. Meanwhile, 42% of survey participants reported a substantial improvement in development speed.

Fewer deployment failures

Release management practices and automation tools reduce the likelihood of update deployment problems and the need for rollbacks. They optimize the release cycle, balancing speed and stability. 

A thought-out CI/CD pipeline provides a centralized source of information for every team. It also supports patch and upgrade releases to ensure that changes made by different stakeholders work well together in the final product.

Increased customer satisfaction

Better software efficiency, fewer failures, and quicker deployments lead to happier stakeholders. Customers benefit from high-quality software that meets their needs and expectations. Release management also enhances user experience and satisfaction, allowing teams to resolve issues proactively.

Culture of continuous improvement

Release management in DevOps nurtures a culture of continuous improvement. Regular feedback and iterative development are the cornerstones of this approach. It encourages quality assurance by automating testing and deployment processes. About 57% of respondents to Puppet’s report agree that release management improves workflow standards.

Lower development costs

Efficient release management can significantly cut costs by streamlining the deployment process, automating tasks, and eliminating human error. As operational expenses decrease, the return on investment increases, making the business more sustainable.

Now that we have clarified the benefits of release management in DevOps let’s discuss its structure.

Processes of Release Management in DevOps

DevOps release management is a structured, systematic approach from planning to post-release maintenance. Here is a breakdown of its core stages.

1. Standardization and planning

The planning phase lays the foundation for the entire DevOps release management process. Before planning, the release manager and stakeholders must agree on the goals and technical requirements. The goal here is to create a comprehensive project plan broken down into manageable tasks with a clear release schedule.

2. Release building

The DevOps release manager assigns tasks to different stakeholders based on their roles. Teams then collaboratively design features, write code, and update the production environment. They run automated tests throughout the process and document the issues (if any) and their potential risks.

3.Performance and security testing

The testing team tests different use case scenarios and integrations to identify issues that made it through the initial CI/CD pipeline. Meanwhile, security specialists run security testing and check for compliance issues.

4. Quality assurance

QA engineers ensure the final product meets technical and business requirements. This includes measuring usability and functional stability, compatibility, maintainability, and security. The software may be sent back to developers for revision with a detailed report. The loop repeats until the product meets quality standards and key performance indicators.

5. Software deployment

The DevOps team deploys the software to verify that every component and system work as expected in the live environment. Organizations can also roll out software releases to a limited number of customers for user acceptance testing. 

6. Post-deployment monitoring

After deployment, the team analyzes performance, checks integration compatibility, and monitors resource consumption. This ongoing process demonstrates the essence of DevOps: continuous learning, evolution, and improvement.

DevOps teams often use specialized release management tools to ensure each task is easily tracked and completed on time. Let’s explore them in detail.

Release Management Tools for DevOps 

DevOps release management tools allow the teams to maintain efficient development from start to finish. They vary in scope and functionality, so we divided them into types based on their goals.

Planning and coordination tools

Coordination and planning software assist your team in task management, activity monitoring, and cross-department collaboration. Such tools include project management platforms like Trello or Asana and communication apps such as Slack.

Version control tools

Version control tools are essential for managing source code changes and tracking software versions. Tools like GitHub and BitBucket can store code revisions and update history, allowing you to quickly revert to previous software versions.

Build tools

Build tools automate software component compilation, packaging, and testing. The results are stored as executable artifacts (code and instructions) you can deploy in different environments. Popular build software includes Jenkins and Gradle.

Testing tools

Automated testing tools like TestNG, Selenium, and Cucumber help DevOps teams validate software functionality, usability, and engineering reliability. They improve the chances that the software will perform as expected after release.

Monitoring and reporting tools

Monitoring tools like Splunk, Datadog, and Prometheus provide real-time and historical data about software performance in the testing, staging, and production environments. Reporting software, such as Google DataStudio, Jira Product Discovery, and Mural, visualize data in reports and interactive dashboards.

These tools streamline production and elevate the quality of software releases. By embracing the best release management practices, you can further enhance their effectiveness and value.

DevOps Release Management Best Practices

Release management evolves with technology, and each company tailors the process to its needs. Use these practices for successful DevOps implementation.

Define success metrics

Organizations should identify success metrics (KPIs) for every project. Measurable metrics help DevOps teams assess the software quality. These metrics include deployment frequency, lead time for changes (the time taken to implement a change from the initial request to the deployment), change failure rate (percentage of updates that result in failures), and mean time to recovery (how fast you restore services). 

Automate the CI/CD pipeline

Automated dependency verifications, security tests, and compliance checks should become a part of the development pipeline. Feedback is essential here, as it helps improve the software between iterations. An automated CI/CD pipeline means fewer manual errors, faster feedback loops, and, ultimately, a more efficient and agile development workflow.

Develop a release strategy

Effective management needs the right strategy. When it comes to DevOps release management, best practices include:

  • Feature flagging: Helps DevOps teams enable and disable certain functionality to test how it affects the software as a whole.
  • Canary releasing: Deploying a new software version to a small group of users before rolling it out to the entire user base. Developers can thus closely monitor its performance, gather feedback, and detect potential issues early on. 
  • Blue-green deployment: Maintaining two identical production environments (the currently live version and the new version being deployed) to achieve zero-downtime or minimal-downtime updates. 

Your strategy should align with the project requirements, team capabilities, and business goals. It’s best to mix and match approaches for different types of products.

Maintain a staging environment

Make sure your staging (testing) environment replicates the production environment as closely as possible. This empowers more accurate testing, which helps the QA team fix as many potential issues as possible before delivering the software to the client.

Implement change request management

The change request management system acts as a communication bridge between the product’s owner, managers, and the DevOps team. Change management makes it easier to incorporate important modifications to software features, design, and other requirements halfway through development with minimal disruptions.

Learn from software releases

Post-deployment analysis is critical for continuous improvement. Companies must document each software change and review issues found during deployments. 

For a review to be comprehensive, companies should do a root cause analysis for critical problems that arise during release management. Teams should also develop corrective strategies and preventive measures to avoid them in future releases. 

That said, there’s another key methodology you should consider to enhance your release management process.

Agile for DevOps Release Management Process

Agile is one of the most popular practices of DevOps release management. It focuses on developing software in iterations, with each iteration improving on the previous one. Well-known methods such as Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming (XP) are all based on Agile. 

The main characteristics of this approach are:

  • People-to-people interactions are more important than tools and processes
  • A functioning product is more important than documentation
  • Customer interaction is more important than the contract
  • Making reasonable changes is more important than following the initial plan

In Agile, the traditional role of the Change Approval Board (CAB) is replaced with a more flexible and adaptable process that aligns with the sprint requirements. The widely used SAFe (Scalable Agile Framework) enables delivery in each sprint cycle, with about 11 weeks of sprints needed to release to production. At the heart of this process is the release manager, who is responsible for continuous monitoring, communication with all departments (development, testing, etc.), and scoping the sprints.

One of the benefits of Agile in DevOps release management is short iterations, which enable faster delivery of product versions to customers. In this approach, all participants are highly engaged, and their input is valued more than the original planning. Changes are made extremely quickly and easily. This makes Agile a go-to choice in managing software environments.

However, it does have its downsides. Continuous improvement in Agile may result in the project not having a fixed completion date. High qualifications are crucial for team members, as Agile requires them to be actively involved and truly interested in the project’s success. 

Finally, since Agile is all about flexibility, requirements often change, and the time and costs can go up accordingly.

Release Management Roles and Guidelines

Product owner

The product owner's responsibility is to set the release requirements in DevOps, which the development and testing teams will follow. A competent and clear requirements outline is crucial for a good outcome. 

Quality manager

The quality manager's responsible for ensuring the acceptance criteria match the requirements the product owner sets. This guarantees that the tests are accurate and that false positives are minimized or eliminated. 

DevOps team

DevOps experts are involved in setting up continuous integration and deployment so that developers can iterate efficiently. Then, they take necessary measures to ensure that the software being deployed to the production environment is high-quality, stable, and ready for use by end users. This helps prevent potential problems that might require additional time and effort to fix.

IT Infrastructure Library

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices and guidelines for IT service management. It focuses on the efficient and effective delivery of IT services and aligning them with the needs of the business. 

The library's core is five books covering strategy, design, transformation, operation, and continuous improvement. Each serves as a guide to providing release management services, offering insights into planning, monitoring, implementing, operating, maintaining, and improving processes.

ITIL version 4

The latest, 4th version of the IT Infrastructure Library, is focused on capitalizing on emerging technologies. It prioritizes the Service Value System and the four dimensions model. The Service Value System provides a holistic approach to value creation and delivery, while the four dimensions model considers the company’s perspectives, information, technology, and partners/suppliers. These enhancements in ITIL 4 aim to align IT service management with modern practices and meet the evolving needs of businesses.


Companies that have made changes to a product at least once fully understand the importance of release management in DevOps. It can speed up the development, testing, and operations when implemented right. On top of that, release management cuts rework costs, boosts collaboration, and helps deliver high-quality products.

This improves the company's control over all release stages, from development to delivery. DevOps release management is required every time a product is released or changes are to be made. The processes can differ depending on the chosen practice and the company’s goals.

Many organizations have a vague understanding of how valuable a well-oiled release management is. But that’s not a problem. An experienced DevOps agency can help you choose the right strategies and tools tailored to your business.


How can Alpacked help with release management in DevOps?

Alpacked brings years of experience in DevOps practices, Agile methodology, and software release management. Our company offers outsourcing services, audit services, consulting, and DevOps as a Service package where we manage all your operations so that you can focus on your business needs.

We can help you implement the right tools in your CI/CD pipeline and break down the silos between your development, operations, and QA departments. Finally, we embrace the DevSecOps methodology, which prioritizes security in every phase of the product lifecycle. 

What are the main benefits of release management in DevOps?

Effective release management can boost operational efficiency and speed up time-to-market while minimizing deployment failures. It also fosters a culture of continuous feedback and collaboration between development, operations, and security teams. This improves the quality of software and reduces the development costs.

What are the main steps involved in the release management process in DevOps?

Software release management may differ across companies, but it generally involves six steps: 1. Standardization and planning to agree on goals and develop a project plan. 

2. Release building where teams perform their assigned tasks. 

3. Performance, acceptance, and security testing. 

4. Quality assurance to ensure the product meets all the requirements. 

5. Deployment to a live environment for validation. 

6. Post-deployment monitoring for continuous improvement.

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