Posted by: Jeff Timmins | December 17, 2013

Are Saturday deploys a good idea?

As a Release Manager would you be skinned alive for scheduling a Saturday deployment?

Is there a best day to deploy an update to your “Cloud” based solution? Should you be skinned alive for even thinking Saturday could be the best day? I think “which day to deploy” is a popular topic among Release Managers so I thought I’d share some of my experiences to help with the discussion.

When I first became a Release Manager it was typical to perform deployments on Saturdays. Since there was some “installation affect” during the update of our solution we would schedule all updates on Saturday afternoon to reduce customer downtime. The thought was that our solution was mainly a 9 to 5 type of application by people in the US so that just made sense. Well it made sense until one of our customers decided to use it on the weekend to track flower sales during holidays. We worked around the scheduling problem but it was a hassle.

At another stop the deploys took place Friday night Pacific Time or early Saturday morning Eastern. The solution a stockbroker type of application that could only do a few things while the Stock Market was closed and the “installation affect” was huge (site down for hours). Because of that and because the update took about 3 hours they decided the least impact + the best possible coverage was that Friday night/Saturday morning time-frame. I wasn’t the Release Manager at that time but I always wondered how West Coast users reacted when trying to login after 9pm and the site said “sorry, down for maintenance, check back later.”

Next I experience the idea of never never never deploy on a Saturday (or Sunday) unless there were really no other options. I was basically skinned alive if I even proposed the idea of a Saturday deploy. I we deployed twice on the weekends in my 1.5 years there. Anyway, the “installation affect” was minimal (typically under 5 minutes of “I think it is slow” or “Let me try that button again” experiences) so we had lots of options. Because there was a lot of usage on the sites and we wanted the least amount of affect we typically deployed early Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings Eastern time.

So does it just matter what your solution is? Sometimes it does but you have to admit that a large number of Internet based solutions are used 24×7 worldwide. So really, I think there are very few “best” options IF your solution has an “installation affect.” As for the best day – I would say yes, best would be during the middle of the work day (because that is when you have the most escalation help!) IF you have a limited or zero “installation affect.” Since this is 2013 I think a low impact update is very possible – wouldn’t you agree? That said, IF you find yourself still in the 2000’s have fun being creative but do you really want to spend your Saturday updating and trying to call Harry that is fishing in the middle of a lake?

As with most of my posts, this could easily continue this discussion with thoughts on installation affect and how to notify customers about deployment times but again, those are for another time.

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