IT is never static. Evolution is the only constant among hardware swaps, network revamps, patched systems, and software upgrades. These tasks are all part of ITIL’s service transition stage, and two key components are change management and release and deployment management. In order to maximize efficiency in this constant state of evolution, service providers must have an understanding of changes, releases, and how to manage them properly.
Changes include additions, modifications, or removals of things that affect IT services. They’re often simple, straightforward procedures such as easy software installations. Releases are new pieces of functionality that could be delivered systematically as a series of changes.. Single releases might include changes to hardware, software, documentation, and processes — they’re much more complex with multiple layers.
Per ITIL, service desk also provides support as a customer point of contact during a change. Technicians can assist with planning and scheduling as well as communication about forecasted outages and other service interruptions. In fact, many of the processes outlined for change management and release and deployment management are the same. The goal is to roll out updates in production, managing the risks involved and responding quickly to potential incidents.
The ITIL Service Desk in Release and Deployment
Before ITIL organizations deploy releases, they often start with release policies that explain how releases are numbered, how often they’re put into production and how they’re deployed into the environment. The process has an inherent tension: organizations want everything up and running all the time, but they also expect services to change rapidly when the need arises.
After getting authorization to plan a release, the team maps out what will happen during the process, including which changes should be part of the release, who’s affected by it, and what risks it may introduce. Good plans also lay out steps that need to approvals, and spell out exactly how deployment should happen. Once a plan is created, the release and deployment team start building and testing the release. They’ll need more than code, and that’s where the ITIL service desk often assists by collaborating on documentation and updating the knowledge management system and service catalog.
Throughout the deployment, the service desk helps to manage incidents that arise. Once the release is fully operational, they may help to develop – and always comply with – the new SLAs. The service desk may also assist with documenting known issues and fixes, adding them to the knowledge base and giving developers critical insights into what their next release should be.
Integrating the Processes
ITIL introduced the separation of release and deployment from change management in 2007. Although the processes are distinguished by their scope, they’re also similar in terms of their planning, testing and deployment steps.
DevOps is speeding up the pace of changes and releases, thanks to its philosophy of frequent deployment. Automation helps not only with deployment but also with mitigating risk (i.e., the automatic restoration to a previous version if the new deployment has problems). Most organizations see DevOps as an enhancement of ITIL, not a replacement for it. To learn more, download our white paper: Transforming ITIL to Fit the Modern IT Organization.