A typical practice is to deploy a new version of software the night before the expected release date of a feature or functionality.

This is problematic because:

  1. A deployment causes lots of change in our production environments
  2. A new version of our software has code changes that could introduce new bugs
  3. The new code has never run in production before and tomorrow our users will get exposed to it for the first time
  4. If we are deploying this late before a release, we probably have a lot of change built up - change is equivalent to risk

However with all of these points understood, a deployment before a release is still common practice.

To avoid all of this risk, it is important to separate the processes and policies around a Release and a Deployment.

A Release is a primarily business decision (IT is also involved) to make a new feature or functionality available to customers.

A Deployment is a primarily IT decision (Business is also involved) to update the software and infrastructure in production to address security concerns, to bring the system to the latest working version or to address performance issues.

The important note is to separate the idea of a Release from a Deployment. Using Feature Toggles, a deployment of the code that provides that feature or functionality can be deployed well in advance. The release then becomes the simple activity of turning on the feature.

This article was first noted down on the 5th of October, 2014.