Cloud costs
October 10, 2023
min read

Release Management with Feature Flags


Release management is the process of planning, coordinating, and deploying software changes to production. It’s a critical part of the software development lifecycle and good risk management, ensuring that changes are made safely and reliably, with minimal impact on users. Feature flags can be a powerful tool for release management, helping you reduce the risk of deploying buggy or incomplete features to production, and rolling out new features gradually to minimize disruption to users. Let’s take a look at how we can achieve those stress-free releases using feature flags.

Canary Deployments

Canary deployments is a type of progressive delivery where you gradually roll out a new feature to a small subset of users at first, and then gradually increase the percentage of users who have access to the feature over time. This allows you to monitor the performance and reliability of the new feature in a controlled environment before rolling it out to all of your users. If ever an issue arises, you can halt the rollout, allowing you to contain the effect it has on users.

Canary Deployment Taking Features to Prod
Canary deployments take a deployment to production
Feature Flags Releasing Deployed Features to Customer Set
Feature flags "unbox" a deployment and bring features to specified customer subsets

Enforced Governance

Governance is a key part of release management as it controls who can manage the feature flags. Governance rules such as role-based access control, approval workflows, and audit logging allow you to ensure that the flags are being used responsibly and prevent unwanted or unexpected features from being released to your users.

Policy Set Evaluations

Automated rollout pipelines

Having an automated rollout pipeline can be used to deploy new features to production in a controlled and predictable manner. This can help you reduce the risk of human error and ensure that your releases are consistent and repeatable. As part of good release management, you and your team should decide on the standardized process that any release will follow. This will be a mixture of team specific rules along with a mixture of the canary deployment and governance rules discussed above. Once that’s all decided, setting up an automated pipeline will allow teams to release any feature without the stress of unpredictability.

Harness Feature Flags Release Pipeline

Feature Flags as Kill Switches

If you discover a problem with a new feature while releasing it to production, you can use a feature flag as a kill switch to quickly and easily toggle off the feature. This way, instead of having to run a whole rollback that involves multiple teams and on-calls to figure out what is happening, you can easily switch the feature off and figure out what went wrong at your development team’s own pace. Most importantly, using feature flags here will ensure that your users are affected minimally. It is also good to have an effective incident management plan for issues like these that may arise, which you can read more about here.

Using Harness Feature Flags for Release Management

Harness Feature Flags is a comprehensive feature flag solution that provides all of the features you need to manage your releases effectively. It is easy to use, scalable, and secure.

Here are some of the key benefits of using Harness Feature Flags for release management:

  • Automated rollout pipelines: Harness Feature Flags allows you to create automated rollout pipelines that can be used to deploy new features to production in a controlled and predictable manner.
  • Governance rules: Harness Feature Flags has the most in-depth governance tool with  Harness Policy as Code, powered by Open Policy Agent (OPA), providing a number of capabilities such as role-based access control, approval workflows, and audit logging.
  • Individual and Group Targets: Harness Feature Flags allows you to test new features with select audiences, and gather valuable user feedback, by releasing a feature only to individual or group targets.
  • Ease of use: Harness Feature Flags is a user-friendly solution that is easy to get started with. It provides a clear and concise UI allowing you to easily implement workflows like progressive delivery.
  • Integrated with CI/CD: Since Harness covers a range of software delivery products, you can easily integrate your feature flags into CI/CD as a unified pipeline that helps maintain the flags as part of the software development lifecycle. 


By following the tips above, you can improve your release management process and release new features to your users more safely and confidently. Harness Feature Flags is the perfect tool for release management as it provides all of the features you need to manage your releases effectively.

Sign up for a free trial of Harness Feature Flags today and start experiencing the benefits of reliable release management.

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Feature Flags