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What Is Software Deployment?

Typically, many define software deployment as the process for deploying, configuring, and updating software applications to help ensure maximum optimization, security, and compatibility within an IT environment.

This deployment can happen manually or automatically, occurring at the times considered the least intrusive by an organization’s workforce. For large rollouts, this can result in staggered releases to help minimize interruptions to employee productivity and reduce strain upon the system, including providing post-deployment support.

What is software deployment for exactly?

Regular software deployments can play an important role in enterprise growth and security, especially when they are timely and consistent. Updates and patches can help meet and respond to an organization’s ever-changing business needs. This is the software release cycle.

“Software deployment” differs from “software release”; the latter refers to the iterative process of any given application. A new release could include more functionality, optimization to reduce bugs, or other benefits.

Software deployment is the term for rolling out an application, which could occur by being “pushed” throughout the IT environment or by the end-user initiating the deployment.

Software deployment advantages and potential challenges

As we mentioned, software deployments can help meet new or evolving needs of the business but there are other key advantages as well.

Updates: As data breaches continue to increase worldwide, IT must take an even more active role in doing everything possible to stay ahead of criminal hackers—many of whom are well organized, smart, and diligent in their commitment to find and exploit any weakness existing across an attack surface. Having regular third-party penetration testing, an intelligent alert system, and subsequent software improvements at timely intervals help maintain security and mission-critical objectives with software deployments.

Patches: No application is infallible or impervious to outside intrusion. And the longer a particular release remains deployed without an update, the more likely security exploits are inviting an outside attack. Oftentimes, these vulnerabilities are known with existing patches ready to go, but the software fixes remain undeployed. This can occur for a variety of reasons, but often track back to a lack of available resources in the IT department. Streamlining your approval workflows for software deployment can help mitigate these challenges. Enterprises may want to consider fast-tracking these deployments—adopting more of a timely DevOps mindset.

Functionality: Software deployments can yield more than improving security, as adding new features that address specific business needs can help enhance employee productivity and streamline workflows by removing friction.

Many enterprises have found that leveraging machine learning for intelligent automation can reduce the time previously spent on mundane tasks. This can have the added benefit of helping reduce departmental costs as well.

Finding the software deployment process that works for you

Each organization has different business needs, and every IT department within that organization has its own needs and challenges.

Setting up an ordered process for both stakeholders and those on your IT team can prove beneficial in keeping everyone on the same page.

For the software deployment workflow that best suits your specific requirements, you will want to consider the following:

  • List the goals you must (and would like) to accomplish
  • Create an ordered deployment checklist to avoid missed steps
  • Look for ways to optimize the process (automation)
  • Test, test, and test some more to reduce bugs as much as possible
  • Inform end-users of why an update is being pushed, what to expect, and when to expect it—eliminating as many surprises to the business as possible

What are some other software deployment best practices to follow?

Your goal is a smooth, secure rollout. Using automation eliminates the chance of human error creeping into the process. And the more expansive the deployment, the higher the chance of something going wrong.

Here are some other best practices to consider for deployment:

  • Use continuous integration (CI): As suggested by its namesake, continuous integration servers (also known as “build servers”) pull code from your dev team and test it—continuously. This helps ensure apps will work in your environment, not just in the dev’s personal sandbox.
  • Adopt continuous delivery (CD): Continuous delivery helps ensure your code changes are ready for primetime by automatically preparing them to move from deployment to production through rigorous testing. This should allow you more time to troubleshoot.
  • Formulate a backup plan: What will you do if things go wrong? Watching a failed deployment go down the tubes is not the time to scramble for an answer. Proactively plan ahead for contingencies with a good rollback strategy in place.

There is no software deployment process that is guaranteed to run without hiccups of any kind, but there are best-practice steps you can take to mitigate the potential damage.
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