What is Software Deployment?
Software deployment includes all of the steps, processes, and activities that are required to make a software system or update available to its intended users. Today, most IT organizations and software developers deploy software updates, patches and new applications with a combination of manual and automated processes. Some of the most common activities of software deployment include software release, installation, testing, deployment, and performance monitoring.
Software development teams have innovated heavily over the past two decades, creating new paradigms and working methods for software delivery that are designed to meet the changing demands of consumers in an increasingly connected world. In particular, software developers have created workflows that enable faster and more frequent deployment of software updates to the production environment where they can be accessed by users.
While many development teams still choose to host applications using on-premises IT infrastructure, cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure now offer IT Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products that help developers deploy applications into live environments without the additional financial and administrative burden of managing their own storage and virtualization servers.
Why is Software Deployment Important?
Software deployment is one of the most important aspects of the software development process. Deployment is the mechanism through which applications, modules, updates, and patches are delivered from developers to users. The methods used by developers to build, test and deploy new code will impact how fast a product can respond to changes in customer preferences or requirements and the quality of each change.
Software development teams that streamline the process of building, testing and deploying new code can respond more quickly to customer demand with new updates and deliver new features more frequently to drive customer satisfaction, satisfy user needs and take advantage of economic opportunities.
Software Deployment vs Software Release - What's the Difference?
For the uninitiated, software deployment and software release may sound like very much the same thing. In fact, these terms describe two separate aspects of the overall software deployment process that should be understood separately.
The software release cycle refers to the stages of development for a piece of computer software, whether it is released as a piece of physical media, online, or as a web-based application (SaaS). When a software development team prepares a new software release, it typically includes a specific version of the code and associated resources that have been assigned a version number. When the code is updated or modified with bug fixes, a new version of the code may be packaged with supporting resources and assigned a new release number. Versioning new software releases in this way helps to differentiate between different versions and identify the most up-to-date software release.
Software deployment refers to the process of running an application on a server or device. A software update or application may be deployed to a test server, a testing machine, or into the live environment, and it may be deployed several times during the development process to verify its proper functioning and check for errors. Another example of software deployment could be when a user downloads a mobile application from the App Store and installs it onto their mobile device.
To summarize, a software release is a specific version of a code and its dependencies that are made available for deployment. Software deployment refers to the process of making the application work on a target device, whether it be a test server, production environment or a user's computer or mobile device.
Software Deployment and Development Methodologies
DevOps is a methodology and a set of best practices for software development whose primary goals are to shorten delivery times for new software updates while maintaining high quality. In the DevOps framework, there are seven steps in the software development process:
Software deployment falls into the software releasing step and includes activities such as release coordination, deploying and promoting applications, back-ups & recovery and scheduled or timed releases. DevOps especially emphasizes the use of automation to streamline the software deployment process. DevOps usually incorporates a framework known as Continuous Integration (CI) where new code is integrated into a shared repository by working teams on a regular basis, sometimes even several times per day. Newly integrated code can be tested through an automated build process to support early bug detection and removal, helping to ensure that releases contain only quality code with few or no errors.
Continuous Deployment (CD) describes a software release strategy where new code passes through a battery of automated tests before being automatically released into the production environment where users can interact with it. Continuous deployment works best for software development teams that have invested heavily in automated testing that helps ensure new code is production-ready as it is developed.
Frequent integrations of new code and automated testing are crucial to effective continuous deployment. Developers that use CD also depend on real-time monitoring to help detect performance and operational issues once code has been deployed to the live environment.
What is the Software Deployment Process?
Every organization must develop its own process for software deployment, either basing it on an existing framework of best practices or customizing a process that meets relevant business objectives. Software deployment can be summarized in three general phases: preparation, testing and the deployment itself.
In the preparation stage, developers must gather all of the code that will be deployed along with any other libraries, configuration files, or resources needed for the application to function. Together, these items can be packaged as a single software release. Developers should also verify that the host server is correctly configured and running smoothly.
Before an update can be pushed to the live environment, it should be deployed to a test server where it can be subjected to a pre-configured set of automated tests. Developers should review the results and correct any bugs or errors before deploying the update to the live environment.
Once an update has been fully tested, it can be deployed to the live environment. Developers may run a set of scripts to update relevant databases before changes can go live. The final step is to check for bugs or errors that occur on the live server to ensure the best possible customer experience for users interacting with the new update.
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