TechDogs-"Introduction To Software Configuration Management Tools"

Software Development

Introduction To Software Configuration Management Tools

By TechDogs

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When you think of computers, you might think of programs like Word, Excel, or Photoshop. These are known as standalone applications. Configuring these for your business might sound as easy as munching on a piece of a brownie but things get a little more complicated when it comes to configuring enterprise software for your business.

Let's say you want to install an accounting software to keep track of your company's books and manage payroll at the same time. How do you configure the software so that it specifically performs these two tasks? The answer is with the help of Software Configuration Management Tools! These tools for software developers are like Chandler to Joey, Ron Weasley to Harry Potter and Dr. John Hamish Watson to Sherlock Holmes. We mean #BFFs and for a reason.

Read this article to know how Software Configuration Management (SCM) Tools are helping software developers along with its evolution, process, benefits and the future!
TechDogs-"Introduction To Software Configuration Management Tools"-FIgure Out Your Configuration Need With This Tool!
Have you heard of the term 'blueprint?’ Well, it's a detailed plan that architects use to construct new buildings and other structures. The blueprint is essential when constructing anything from buildings to furniture to complex machines like cars or airplanes. A blueprint is an instruction manual for how something should be built but with more detail than a general representation can provide. You can think of software configuration management as a blueprint for tools and resource libraries that software developers use to build software applications.

You see, if you want to build a home or any other structure, you need a blueprint or construction plans first before breaking ground. Without planning, you may overlook critical details or omit necessary elements that could become a safety hazard later on. Software configuration management does the same but for software. It covers details about who can make changes to specific file types, who can access them and what versions are available for each file type.

Software Configuration Management Tools help automate the entire process of tracking changes in configurations, storing them securely in a central repository and assigning them to various users within the organization. It is like a massive blueprint that shows the relevant information to authorized users as and when they need it. Not just that but with the help of these tools, organizations can monitor changes in their software deployment, identify the source of changes, manage new code versions, document software artifacts/issues and control all aspects of the release of new versions to end-users. Quite extensive, right?

Yet, there's a lot more to explore about these tools; figure it out in the following section.

What Are Software Configuration Management Tools?

Before we head to the topic, let's first understand software configuration.

TechDogs-"What Are Software Configuration Management Tools?"-A Gif Of Joey Tribbiani Saying ‘I Am Joey’
Meet Joey (nope, not Joey Tribbiani from F.R.I.E.N.D.S., just Joey!), a software developer at ABC Ltd. Joey developed a software. Now this product (software) will undergo a lot of changes during its testing phase and Joey would need to handle these changes effectively. Several programs and tools will be integrated to work together to achieve the goal of addressing the changes. These programs produce several work products (say, software configuration items and bug reports). The elements that comprise all information produced as a part of the software lifecycle (from inception to testing to public release) are collectively called software configurations.

Now, of course, all this cannot be done manually, right? That's when Joey would need his Chandler, we mean Software Configuration Management Tools. These tools handle the task of tracking and controlling changes in the software. It could be in the form of identifying individual elements and configurations, monitoring changes and version selection, control and baselining (a method of analyzing computer network performance), etc. So that's what Software Configuration Management Tools are all about. Now, let's head to the next section and chase its roots.

Evolution Of Software Configuration Management Tools

This story takes us to the era of the 1950s when the United States Department of Defense created configuration management. It was a mechanism to manage and control the complicated and powerful hardware. These included tanks, weaponry, aircraft, ocean vessels and so on. The configuration management process helped the United States Department of Defence keep track of their assets' location and status at any given time. Slowly, software systems became increasingly complex and to cope with these complexities, configuration management made its entry into the world of software development. It helped developers keep tabs on where all their virtual assets were and keep track of every change made to them.

In that era, software configuration management emerged as a helpful process for developers and technical teams, although it was manual. Developers usually wrote changes manually using programming languages to identify what was done and why. What could go wrong, right? Its inaccurate documentation of changes caused the process to take more time and effort than usual. Issues like scheduling, time management, budget and rising complexities in software engineering and software development demanded an automatic solution. Software Configuration Management Tools entered as a sign of hope and these tools became the primary system to manage software changes. To date, these tools are helping software development teams with seamless tracking and management of changes and the rest is history.

 If you’re wondering how it does all this? – read on!

The Working Of Software Configuration Management Tools

So far, we've understood the concept and evolution of Software Configuration Management Tools now; let's get back to Joey and help him know how these tools exactly work.
 TechDogs-"The Working Of Software Configuration Management Tools "-A Gif Of Joey Tribbiani Saying ‘I Am Quite Wisdomous’.   
  • ​Configuration Identification:

    First things first, Joey will need to create a record of all items requiring configuration. Once he identifies the relationship between these items, Software Configuration Management Tool will make an infrastructure to maintain multiple control levels. 

  • Configuration Plan:

    Under this step, Joey will define the scope of the system and establish the naming convention and versioning system. Then the tool will create a set of procedures to identify when items will be backed up. Also, all the configuration information will be stored automatically in the database.  

  • Change Control:

    This step involves procedures to ensure quality and consistency. In this step, requests to change configurations are submitted to the team and approved or denied by the software configuration manager. Besides, it is also explained why changes are denied. Eventually, Joey will get a clearer picture of the whole process. 

  • Auditing And Reviewing:

    Welcome to the concluding stage – here it is made sure that the goals laid out in the planning and identification step are achieved. Besides, it is ensured that the software complies with identified configuration control standards and changes from baselines match the reports.

That's how Software Configuration Management Tools will work, Joey! Now let's head to the next section and unbox its benefits.

Benefits Of Software Configuration Management Tools

Here comes the most exciting part, the benefits of these tools!
  • Seamless Control:

    Software Configuration Management Tools will equip Joey with seamless control to review, approve and incorporate changes into configuration items. It is a single, unified tool that helps software developers like Joey with unify training sets, license management, installation guidelines and user procedures in one place.

 TechDogs-"Benefits Of Software Configuration Management Tools  "-A Gif Of Joey Tribbiani.  
  • Flawless Management:

    ​These tools enable software developers with automatic identification and guidance of configurations through their lifecycle to the final stage. Identification of configuration items through a unique naming convention allows version, release, update and full charge tracking. Not just that but with the help of this tool, software developers like Joey can also gain rapid insights through the analysis of historical data collected. 

  • Quality Control:

    During the entire process of software development, quality should be considered at every person-to-tool interface. Software Configuration Management Tools will help Joey avoid repeated documentation of errors and change control, allowing him to estimate future efforts accurately.  

That was about the past and present of Software Configuration Management Tools. Let’s dive down into the future of these tools! Ready, steady, go! 

Future Of Software Configuration Management Tools

Cloud technology will continue to rule this domain in the near future. It will enable teams to deploy software to thousands of servers simultaneously to cope with the demand of software usage. Managing servers on that grand scale will require automation on a different scale and, of course, a systematic approach. This is where an API-driven system will play a huge role in software configuration management. It will boost the process by installing and launching scripts on each node; centralized configuration management will reduce the workload of the software developers and teams programmatically and drastically. Sounds super exciting, right?

Wrapping It Up!

Keeping track of software configuration and changes is critical in any production environment, whether you're building a website or an entire software suite. It's also one of the most challenging aspects of managing code from development to final release. If you've ever worked on a software project before, you know that it involves more than just typing code!

You also need to keep track of what that code does and how it impacts different functions throughout the program. Putting documentation in one place with an overview of all the changes can help you prevent bugs and streamline future maintenance and updates. A Software Configuration Management Tool becomes critical in streamlining efforts and reducing time-to-market for software products.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Software Configuration Management Tools, and why are they important?

Software Configuration Management Tools are specialized software solutions designed to track and control changes in software configurations throughout the development lifecycle. These tools play a crucial role in ensuring that software development teams can effectively manage and coordinate changes to their codebase, ensuring consistency, reliability, and compliance with project requirements. By automating tasks such as version control, configuration identification, and change management, these tools help streamline the development process and minimize the risk of errors or inconsistencies in the software.

How have Software Configuration Management Tools evolved over time?

The evolution of Software Configuration Management Tools can be traced back to the 1950s when the concept of configuration management was first introduced by the United States Department of Defense to manage complex hardware systems. Over time, as software systems became increasingly sophisticated, the need for automated configuration management solutions became apparent. Early tools were primarily manual and lacked the efficiency and scalability required to manage modern software development processes. However, with advancements in technology, Software Configuration Management Tools have evolved to become sophisticated, automated systems capable of managing the entire software development lifecycle.

How do Software Configuration Management Tools work?

Software Configuration Management Tools work by automating key tasks involved in managing software configurations, such as configuration identification, change control, and auditing. These tools provide developers with a centralized platform for tracking changes to code, documenting software artifacts, and controlling the release of new versions to end-users. By enforcing standardized processes and providing real-time visibility into the status of software configurations, these tools help ensure consistency, reliability, and compliance with project requirements. Additionally, Software Configuration Management Tools facilitate collaboration among team members and enable organizations to streamline their software development workflows effectively.

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