So once you finally get the green light for your programme, you begin to let loose the dogs (that had been snarling and growling in early design stages) and you suddenly find that you’re in a project versus operations, us-against-them situation.
What you need to grease the wheels is a decent bit of Release Management (RM).
But what exactly is it?
Is it technical project management, coordinating the 1001 changes you need to apply to the current configuration and packaging up the myriad detailed yet interlinking change requests required to deliver the systems whose benefits return the big bucks
you wowed the executive board with?
Do you need a schmoozer who can smooth through all of the technical issues that you are loading already stressed operational teams with, avoiding conflict and making everyone feel ok with what is happening
Or is it about keeping your eye on the big picture and making pragmatic decisions about where things can give and what needs to move off the critical path.
Whew – that’s already quite a lot, and maybe its not finished.
In most modern company’s Infrastructure teams, many people are
familiar with the ITIL set of processes – change management
is bread and butter, configuration management is something
that people can see the value in, but you will find far fewer
people who have gotten their heads around why Release Management
is a vital part of the whole cycle of change. Especially so
on large and complex refresh programmes.
What’s worse is that it can easily get confused with Software
Release Management. Without wanting to belittle the intricacies
of software, it tends to be more monolithic than the diverse
yet intertwined blocks of a distributed infrastructure. In the
same way that Software Configuration Management is a souped up
incarnation of version control, Software Release Management is
more about tracking interdependencies in a neat hierarchy.
Infrastructure Release Management however can be more like keeping
the lid on a boiling mixture of personalities, politics,
historical slip ups and unrealistic business expectations,
in a world where rolling back changes is rarely as simple as
extract previous version and recompile.
So even most people aren’t sure even what it is, you neglect Release Management at the peril of your very infrastructure