Because of the limited, pre-defined maintenance windows, release schedules are no longer flexible. In the on-premises world, we tend to pile on release content requested by customers, often planning for the maximum content that the initial project schedule can support. As the project progresses, scope changes occur, and ultimately we'll slide the release date by a month or two, if we have to in order to deliver all the envisioned content with an acceptable level of quality. This works because, until the release is announced, the release date can be changed without much impact to our reputation, or to customers as they haven't yet made plans based on a release date. But in the Cloud world, missing a targeted maintenance window means having to target a different, future window, potentially bumping another update, which had targeted that window. LotusLive currently has two maintenance windows per month, but one is dedicated to security patches and critical Operating System updates, leaving one window per month for deploying new releases. Missing your targeted window and needing to shift to a future window means bumping all other releases one window further out. That's clearly not acceptable to other release streams. Sticking to an inflexible schedule is important. Which, by the way, is a reason that Agile development works well for cloud services. I want to make a key point here that, in the context of this description, maintenance windows are not necessarily the same as outage windows. Our outage windows are shrinking toward zero, but just because we can update the environment without outages, that doesn't mean we will do so frivolously. We will still organize updates in groups and communicate changes to customers in advance, as described in Cloud Difference #2: Enablement precedes launch. From a release perspective, we will still be dealing with planning toward a particular environment update, and that's what I have called maintenance windows above.
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