Posted by: ahmedashfaque | July 23, 2015

Software release management in the agile era


Before agile methodology was adopted for software projects, most projects were following waterfall model. In waterfall model, a software product is released after the software product is designed, developed and tested. This software product is released so that it can be deployed and then used by end users. Thus we used to see very few software product releases. Once per software product development project!

In agile methodology, we see many releases of a software product. It is because software product is developed incrementally in agile methodology. Whenever a new increment is added to an existing software product, we can have a new release of that product. With each new release, we see some additional product features get added to the software product.

In between the agile and waterfall era; there used to be a transition era where software product vendors used to release there software proructs more than once. In this era we used to see alpha and beta releases of a software proruct apart from the usual final release. Even today many software vendors adopt this release strategy. Alpha and beta releases of a software product are used for 2 purposes. First the software vendor wants to create awareness about its product in the market by giving free evaluation copies to its customers. For example Microsoft makes alpha or beta releases of its software products in the market.

The other reason for creating alpha and beta releases of a software product is to get it tested by customers themselves. When customers install and use alpha releases of a software product, they may find some software defects. They will report these defects to the software vendor. The software vendor will fix these defects. If too many defects were reported then the software vendor may create a beta release so that the software product is tested further by customers.

Alpha and beta releases are great tools to get a software product tested quickly and free of cost. If the software vendor had decided to get the software product tested inhouse then it would had to hire a team of software testers. This approach is not only costly but it is also slow. Afterall there is a limit to the number of software testers who can be hired. In contrast, an alpha release can be installed, used and tested by thouands of customers.

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