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ITIL Release Management

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Note
Note: This article applies to Fuji and earlier releases. For more current information, see Release Management at http://docs.servicenow.com

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Note
Note: The latest release this documentation applies to is Fuji. For the Helsinki release, see Release Management. Documentation for later releases is also on docs.servicenow.com.

Overview

Release Management encompasses the planning, design, build, configuration and testing of hardware and software releases to create a defined set of release components.

ServiceNow handles releases using the task record system. Each planned feature is generated through a variety of means as a task record, populated with the pertinent information in individual fields. These tasks can be assigned to appropriate release management team members, who will deal with the task as appropriate until the release has been properly deployed.

Release Management can be effectively used to coordinate releases as a vehicle for planning releases, composed of individual features. Once a release is finalized, a Change Item can be generated (using a custom-built UI Action), allowing the implementation and deployment of a release to be handled within the change management process.

Release Management Concepts

Release Management consists of the following tables:

  • Products - represent the hardware or software for which releases will be built. A product can be linked with a Business Service in the CMDB to link it with other ITIL processes.
  • Releases - represent a planned release for a product. The content of a release is defined by the features (and associated Requests for Change) that it implements.
  • Features - represent the individual changes being made to the product. A feature may be associated with a configuration item or with a change request, and to a parent release.
  • Release Phases - represent the planned phases that a release will have, which are used to group the tasks required to carry out the release.
  • Release Tasks - represent any of the tasks required to implement a feature of a product

Managing the Release Process

Because features, phases, and release tasks extend the Task [task] table, all of the task management tools in the platform are available to power their use:

  • Approval Rules - automatically issues approvals to involved parties based on pre-defined conditions.
  • Assignment Rules - automatically assigns tasks to users or groups based on pre-defined conditions.
  • Workflows - define and automate multi-step execution processes to standardize how work is performed.

In addition, scripts such as business rules and scheduled jobs can further increase the automation of the process.

Software Control Distribution

The platform allows the Release Management team to control the distribution of software through the creation of a Definitive Media Library (DML) stored in the CMDB.

The DML consists of a physical store and a logical store. The physical store is where the master copies of all software media are stored. This tends to be software that has been provided from an external source. The logical store is the index of all software and releases, versions, etc. highlighting where the physical media can be located. The logical store may also be used for the storage of software developed within the organization.

Both physically and logically stored software are represented as records on the DML table.

Continual Service Improvements to Release Management

The release management process can be improved by the service desk, using information gathered within the platform. Much of the data is already stored within the incident record. More information can be gathered by enabling auditing, which allows for an accurate review of the history of the problem. With the Metric Definition Support, it is possible to define the Key Performance Indicators to monitor within the system. With these metrics, and the information within the database, it is possible to generate reports, which can then be added to homepages or automatically generated and distributed. With the Database Views Plugin it is possible to join tables for reporting purposes.

Using this information, it is possible to refine automatic rules such as the assignment rules, workflow, approval engines, or scheduling to better suit the release management team's unique environment.