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In work environment, we frequently encounter the words "deployment" and "release" in technical context. I often hear them used interchangeably also. It is mainly related to "Release and Deployment Management".

For example, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines the aim of Release and Deployment Management as:

ITIL Release and Deployment Management aims to plan, schedule and control the movement of releases to test and live environments. The primary goal of Release Management and Deployment Management is to ensure that the integrity of the live environment is protected and that the correct components are released.

Source: http://wiki.en.it-processmaps.com/index.php/Release_and_Deployment_Management

Additionally, I found the below technical definitions but these are not the only usages:

1. Making a version of software available to the public.
2. A software version which has been made available to the public.
Source: http://www.computeruser.com/dictionary

deploy: To install, test and implement a computer system or application.
Source: http://www.webopedia.com/

Wikipedia's "software deployment" article mentions below but it looks like the below definitions can not be applied to all kind of deployments in an IT environment:

Software deployment is all of the activities that make a software system available for use.

The release activity follows from the completed development process. It includes all the operations to prepare a system for assembly and transfer to the customer site. Therefore, it must determine the resources required to operate at the customer site and collect information for carrying out subsequent activities of deployment process.


  • What is the difference between "deployment" and "release"? (This question asks a general difference in a technical context but to be more specific, it can be related to a "code change".)

  • Can we use these words interchangeably?

    For example, Can we use both sentences below and can they have the same meaning?

    I will release the change to production.
    I will deploy the change to production.

  • ITIL also defines one of the Role/Sub-Process as Release Deployment.

    So, is "release" used as a noun mainly in this context?
    Are releases always deployed?
    Can we release a release?

Note: I would like to get answers from real life experiences about the usage of these terminologies in work environments and release management processes.

Note2: Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions. Certainly experiences inform opinions, but the best subjective questions unabashedly and unashamedly prioritize sharing actual experiences over random opinions.
Source: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/

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You deploy a release. You don't release a release or deploy a deployment. They are distinguished for clarity. –  KitFox Jul 7 at 18:21
You answer your own question in the definitions you state. Release = make available, deploy = install. In some environments the two steps blur into one and the words get used interchangeably. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jul 7 at 18:22
I'm looking to get answers from real life experiences. –  ermanen Jul 7 at 22:13

3 Answers 3

This is really a technical question, but since I can't think of a better place to answer it I'll do so here.

To release something (in a sales or product sense) is to make it available, usually for purchase.

To deploy something is to make it active, or start it working.

For example:

I release software by making it available for customers to purchase. Those customers then purchase it, take delivery, and deploy it to their websites.

For a concrete example, my new model of umbrella is released when it is put on shelves for people to buy. It is deployed for the first time when the first customer puts it up.

It can be a little more complicated. A website owner might deploy software they have purchased to their website, but since it is not used until one of their customers actually runs it, they sometimes talk about releasing it to their customers.

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When reading your Release and Deployment article, it's clear that release is used principally to mean that thing (software, in this case) that is moved to the test or live environment. Deployment is used principally to describe the process of moving that thing to the to the test or live environment.

These words obviously have verb counterparts, and they would have corresponding meanings. To release (verb) something would be to cause a release to exist. To deploy (verb) something would be to execute the process of deployment.

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I understand this, I'm not simply asking definition differences. They are also used interchangeably in work environments. When do they become same? Is this an incorrect usage or did it become an accepted usage in time? I'm trying to get answers from experiences. –  ermanen Jul 14 at 16:28

**To Release is to "Let go" "make available" **

To Deploy is to "send forward" or "use" an action

Hence, for employment :

A number of people were "released" (made redundant), whilst a number were re"deployed" (sent elsewhere for further action

In software:

the latest "release" ("Available" version) may be deployed ("sent forward" or "actioned") through updates, when "actioned" they would be the latest "deployments"

Release is passive do with it what you will , deployment is aggressive, actionable.

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