ITIL’s “Release Management” – or as renamed in v3, “Release and Deployment Management” is concerned with the process of implementing authorized changes to an IT service and the interaction with Change and Configuration Management. It consists of planning, design, build, configuration, and testing of hardware and software and the planning, preparation and scheduling of a Release to one or multiple environments.
ITIL defines a release as a “collection of authorized Changes to an IT service … defined by the RFCs that it implements”. The release can consist of problem fixes or enhancements to the service and will include new or changed software, hardware, or documentation required to implement the approved Changes.
While ITIL mentions hardware, the typical IT manager will usually see formal Release Management concerned with software releases. It will be focused on downstream SDLC activities and provide the bridge between software development and Production.