What is deployment?
In IT, deployment means the distribution or provision of software. The deployment takes place via automated processes, which are used to install and configure the software solutions.
Deployment or software deployment refers to the mostly semi or fully automatic processes of software distribution, especially in companies. The deployment includes aspects such as the installation , configuration, updating and maintenance of operating systems and application systems on PCs or servers. Updates and patches as well as their provision are also part of the deployment.
Larger companies and organizations in particular use professional and mostly centralized software distribution. This is often done using stand-alone software solutions and deployment scripts. Installation typically does not require any further user interaction.
For smaller organizations and application areas, a single administrator or a trained employee can carry out the installation and distribution. The task of the deployment and the deployment strategy is an efficient design of the operational IT management.
Components of software deployment
Several components that are involved in the deployment play a role in software provisioning. First of all, a network is required over which the software components are provided. It is used to transfer all data or packets. The network is also used to transfer the current inventory (status quo of the software) to the server.
Furthermore, certain protocols or standards are required for software deployment. These are used for the standardized exchange of computer data. The most important protocols include, for example, HTTP, FTP, DHCP and BOOTP.
Software components are distributed in so-called packages. These represent file collections through which applications are automatically installed and configured. Packages occasionally also contain several applications and the necessary hardware drivers. The required files are compressed and combined in an archive.
Special packaging software is required to create and distribute the packages. A configuration database and a configuration server are also required . The configuration database is used for the central storage of all configuration data in the system, while the configuration server is the storage location for the database. As such, the server provides the infrastructure and services that make the configuration data accessible to the servers and computers.
Another central component of the deployment is the package server. This takes on the task of distributing and providing the packets over the network. The packet server depends on a high-performance network connection. In practice, the configuration and package servers can be the same server or computer.
Configuration software is used to maintain and save the configuration data. All computer and user directories, package directories and program directories are stored and maintained using the configuration software.
Participants in the deployment
Several parties are involved in software deployment, and they take on different roles. The administrator is responsible for the distribution and configuration. This operates the software deployment system. Users or employees are automatically provided with the required applications in a configured form.
The software manufacturer takes on the task of delivering the required applications and installation programs. Those responsible for the product then determine the type of installation and the configuration of the software used. Packagers have the task of combining the applications and programs in a package for the software distribution system.
Network operators take over the provision of the computer network on which the deployment takes place. In smaller companies or organizations, this is done by an administrator. In larger organizations, the network is usually operated by external service providers. The same applies to server operators. Even these are mostly identical to the administrator in smaller companies, while the server operation in larger organizations is independent.
Support of software deployment
The task of support is to offer support and problem solutions in the event of software malfunctions. The support uses the information from the software deployment to rectify the malfunctions. For this purpose, there is close cooperation between support and the various roles and participants in the deployment.
Support receives information about the current status of the system from the administrator. Support receives information about the specifications of the products from software manufacturers. Depending on the type and scope of the malfunctions, the support can forward the messages about the solution directly to specialists.
The support team receives more detailed information about the current configuration of the software solutions in use from those responsible for the product. Packagers can inform support about the technical specifications of the packages used. Network operators and service operators can provide support with the latest information on possible malfunctions. These and other roles are performed by one or more people, depending on the size of the organization.
Software deployment and its individual steps
Several sub-steps follow one another as part of the deployment. First of all, the software is orchestrated. The software is selected and compiled depending on the requirements and the end devices to be used. The software is then downloaded. The next step is to package the software to be installed. The software is put together with the associated configurations and instructions.
This is followed by the test phase, during which the packages are subjected to a detailed application test before delivery. Then the actual distribution of the software packages on the end devices (PCs or servers) of the users takes place. In the last step, these software packages are installed on the end devices. The subsequent updates and patches as well as the maintenance and servicing of the software are also part of the scope of the deployment.