Software Life Cycle

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What Does Software Life Cycle Mean?

The software life cycle refers to all the phases of a software product throughout its planning, development, and use, all the way through to its eventual obsolescence or retirement. This process has many variable parts, but it can often be segmented into several main pieces. This helps developers and others to understand how a product is created, implemented and used.

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Techopedia Explains Software Life Cycle

Several of the most common parts of a software life cycle are planning phases. Professionals typically refer to requirements gathering or analysis, where an undeveloped product is defined through gathered criteria. Subsequent phases involve the analysis and design of the product, followed by development. The last parts of the life cycle involve a product that has been released to a customer or other end user, at which time the product maker often continues to be involved through maintenance, problem solving, upgrading and other processes.

Another way to look at the separation of software life cycle phases is through the use of the terms "production environment" and "end-use environment."Here there is a clear distinction between the product as an internal work in progress, and a product that has been released.

It’s important to note that software does not always proceed through these parts of a software life cycle in a linear way. Rather, there may be various parts of a product that evolve differently. These are often called iterations within the professional IT community.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.