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Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World

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  • Copyright 2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-265142-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-265142-4

Successfully Implement High-Value Configuration Management Processes in Any Development Environment

As IT systems have grown increasingly complex and mission-critical, effective configuration management (CM) has become critical to an organization’s success. Using CM best practices, IT professionals can systematically manage change, avoiding unexpected problems introduced by changes to hardware, software, or networks. Now, today’s best CM practices have been gathered in one indispensable resource showing you how to implement them throughout any agile or traditional development organization.

Configuration Management Best Practices is practical, easy to understand and apply, and fully reflects the day-to-day realities faced by practitioners. Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs thoroughly address all six “pillars” of CM: source code management, build engineering, environment configuration, change control, release engineering, and deployment. They demonstrate how to implement CM in ways that support software and systems development, meet compliance rules such as SOX and SAS-70, anticipate emerging standards such as IEEE/ISO 12207, and integrate with modern frameworks such as ITIL, COBIT, and CMMI. Coverage includes 

  • Using CM to meet business objectives, contractual requirements, and compliance rules
  • Enhancing quality and productivity through lean processes and “just-in-time” process improvement
  • Getting off to a good start in organizations without effective CM
  • Implementing a Core CM Best Practices Framework that supports the entire development lifecycle
  • Mastering the “people” side of CM: rightsizing processes, overcoming resistance, and understanding
    workplace psychology
  • Architecting applications to take full advantage of CM best practices
  • Establishing effective IT controls and compliance
  • Managing tradeoffs and costs and avoiding expensive pitfalls

Configuration Management Best Practices is the essential resource for everyone concerned with CM: from CTOs and CIOs to development, QA, and project managers and software engineers to analysts, testers, and compliance professionals.

Praise for Configuration Management Best Practices

“Understanding change is critical to any attempt to manage change. Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs’s Configuration Management Best Practices presents fundamental definitions and explanations to help practitioners understand change and its potential impact.”

—Mary Lou A. Hines Fritts, CIO and Vice Provost Academic Programs, University of Missouri-Kansas City

“Few books on software configuration management emphasize the role of people and organizational context in defining and executing an effective SCM process. Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs’s book will give you the information you need not only to manage change effectively but also to manage the transition to a better SCM process.”

—Steve Berczuk, Agile Software Developer, and author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration

“Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs succeed handsomely in producing an important book, at a practical and balanced level of detail, for this topic that often ‘goes without saying’ (and hence gets many projects into deep trouble). Their passion for the topic shows as they cover a wonderful range of topics—even culture, personality, and dealing with resistance to change—in an accessible form that can be applied to any project. The software industry has needed a book like this for a long time!”

—Jim Brosseau, Clarrus Consulting Group, and author of Software Teamwork: Taking Ownership for Success

“A must read for anyone developing or managing software or hardware projects. Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs are able to bridge the language gap between the myriad of communities involved with successful Configuration Management implementations. They describe practical, real world practices that can be implemented by developers, managers, standard makers, and even Classical CM Folk.”

—Bob Ventimiglia, Bobev Consulting

“A fresh and smart review of today’s key concepts of SCM, build management, and related key practices on day-to-day software engineering. From the voice of an expert, Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs offer an invaluable resource to success in SCM.”

—Pablo Santos Luaces, CEO of Codice Software

“Bob Aiello and Leslie Sachs have a gift for stimulating the types of conversation and thought that necessarily precede needed organizational change. What they have to say is always interesting and often important.”

—Marianne Bays, Business Consultant, Manager and Educator

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Preface     xxi

Introduction     xxxiii


Chapter 1 Source Code Management     3

Terminology and Source Code Management     5

Goals of Source Code Management     5

Principles of Source Code Management     6

1.1 Why Is Source Code Management Important?     6

1.2 Where Do I Start?     7

1.3 Source Code Management Core Concepts     9

1.3.1 Creating Baselines and Time Machines     9

1.3.2 Reserved Versus Unreserved Checkouts     10

1.3.3 Sandboxes and Workspaces     11

1.3.4 Variant Management (Branching)     11

1.3.5 Copybranches Versus Deltas     12

1.3.6 How to Handle Bugfixes     12

1.3.7 Streams     14

1.3.8 Merging     15

1.3.9 Changesets     16

1.4 Defect and Requirements Tracking     16

1.5 Managing the Globally Distributed Development Team     17

1.6 Tools Selection     19

1.6.1 Open Source Versus Commercial     21

1.6.2 Product Maturity and Vendor Commitment     21

1.6.3 Extensibility and Open API     22

1.6.4 Don’t Overengineer Your Source Code Management     22

1.7 Recognizing the Cost of Quality (and Total Cost of Ownership)     23

1.7.1 Building Your Source Code Management Budget     24

1.8 Training      24

1.8.1 The “Bob Method” for Training     24

1.9 Defining the Usage Model     25

1.10 Time to Implement and Risks to Success     26

1.11 Establishing Your Support Process     26

1.12 Advanced Features and Empowering Users     27

Conclusion     27

Chapter 2 Build Engineering     29

Goals of Build Engineering     30

Principles of Build Engineering     30

2.1 Why Is Build Engineering Important?     31

2.2 Where Do I Start?     32

2.3 Build Engineering Core Concepts     32

2.3.1 Version IDs or Branding Your Executables     32

2.3.2 Immutable Version IDs     33

2.3.3 Stamping In a Version Label or Tag     33

2.3.4 Managing Compile Dependencies     33

2.3.5 The Independent Build     34

2.4 Core Considerations for Scaling the Build Function     34

2.4.1 Selling the Independent Build     35

2.4.2 Overengineering the Build     35

2.4.3 Testing Your Own Integrity     36

2.4.4 Reporting to Development Can Be a Conflict of Interest     37

2.4.5 Organizational Choices     37

2.5 Build Tools Evaluation and Selection     38

2.5.1 Apache Ant Enters the Build Scene     38

2.5.2 Of Mavens and Other Experts     38

2.5.3 Maven Versus Ant     39

2.5.4 Using Ant for Complex Builds     39

2.5.5 Continuous Integration     40

2.5.6 CI Servers     40

2.5.7 Integrated Development Environments     40

2.5.8 Static Code Analysis     41

2.5.9 Build Frameworks     41

2.5.10 Selecting Your Build Tools     41

2.5.11 Conducting the Bakeoff and Reaching Consensus     42

2.6 Cost of Quality and Training     42

2.7 Making a Good Build Better     42

2.7.1 “Bob-Proofing” Your Build     43

2.7.2 Test-Driven Builds     43

2.7.3 Trust, But Verify     43

2.7.4 The Cockpit of a Plane     44

2.8 The Role of the Build Engineer     44

2.8.1 Know What You Build     45

2.8.2 Partner with Developers     46

2.8.3 Drafting a Rookie     46

2.9 Architecture Is Fundamental     46

2.10 Establishing a Build Process     47

2.10.1 Establishing Organizational Standards     47

2.11 Continuous Integration Versus the Nightly Build     47

2.12 The Future of Build Engineering     48

Conclusion     48

Chapter 3 Environment Configuration     49

Goals of Environment Configuration Control     50

Principles of Environment Configuration Control     51

3.1 Why Is Environment Configuration Important?     51

3.2 Where Do I Start?     51

3.3 Supporting Code Promotion     52

3.4 Managing the Configuration     52

3.4.1 Which Database Are You Using?     53

3.4.2 Did That Trade Go Through?     53

3.4.3 How About a Few Tokens?     54

3.4.4 Centralizing the Environment Variable Assignment     55

3.5 Practical Approaches to Establishing a CMDB     55

3.5.1 Identify and Then Control     56

3.5.2 Understanding the Environment Configuration     56

3.6 Change Control Depends on Environment Configuration     56

3.7 Minimize the Number of Controls Required     57

3.8 Managing Environments     57

3.9 The Future of Environment Configuration     57

Conclusion     58

Chapter 4 Change Control     59

Goals of Change Control     60

Principles of Change Control     60

4.1 Why Is Change Control Important?     61

4.2 Where Do I Start?     61

4.3 The Seven Types of Change Control     61

4.3.1 A Priori     62

4.3.2 Gatekeeping     62

4.3.3 Configuration Control     62

4.3.4 Change Advisory Board     63

4.3.5 Emergency Change Control     64

4.3.6 Process Engineering     64

4.3.7 Senior Management Oversight     64

4.4 Creating a Change Control Function     65

4.5 Examples of Change Control in Action     65

4.5.1 The 29-Minute Change Control Meeting     66

4.5.2 Change Control at the Investment Bank     66

4.5.3 Change Control at the Trading Firm     67

4.5.4 Forging Approvals     69

4.6 Don’t Forget the Risk     69

4.7 Driving the CM Process Through Change Control     69

4.8 Entry/Exit Criteria     70

4.9 After-Action Review     71

4.10 Make Sure That You Evaluate Yourself     71

Conclusion     71

Chapter 5 Release Management     73

Goals of Release Management     74

Principles of Release Management     74

5.1 Why Is Release Management Important?     75

5.2 Where Do I Start?     75

5.3 Release Management Concepts and Practices     76

5.3.1 Packaging Strategies That Work     76

5.3.2 Package Version Identification     76

5.3.3 Sending a Release Map with the Release     77

5.3.4 What Does Immutable Mean?     77

5.4 The Ergonomics of Release Management     77

5.4.1 Avoiding Human Error     78

5.4.2 Understanding the Technology     78

5.4.3 Tools from Build Engineering     79

5.4.4 Avoiding Human Error     79

5.4.5 My Own Three-Step Process     79

5.4.6 Too Many Moving Parts     80

5.5 Release Management as Coordination     80

5.5.1 Communicating the Status of a Release     80

5.5.2 Don’t Forget the Release Calendar     80

5.5.3 RM and Configuration Control     81

5.6 Requirements Tracking     81

5.7 Taking Release Management to the Next Level     81

5.7.1 Using Cryptography to Sign Your Code     82

5.7.2 Operating Systems Support for Release Management     82

5.7.3 Improving Your RM Process      2

Conclusion     83

Chapter 6 Deployment     85

Goals of Deployment     86

Principles of Deployment     86

6.1 Why Is Deployment Important?     87

6.2 Where Do I Start?     87

6.3 Practices and Examples     87

6.3.1 Staging Is Key     87

6.3.2 Scripting the Release Process Itself     89

6.3.3 Frameworks for Deployment     89

6.3.4 What If Bob Makes a Mistake?     89

6.3.5 More on the Depot     90

6.3.6 Auditing Your Release     90

6.4 Conducting a Configuration Audit     91

6.5 Don’t Forget the Smoke Test     92

6.6 Little Things Matter a Lot     92

6.7 Communications Planning     92

6.7.1 Announcing Outages and Completed Deployments     93

6.8 Deployment Should Be Delegated     93

6.9 Trust But Verify     93

6.10 Improving the Deployment Process     93

Conclusion     94


Chapter 7 Architecting Your Application for CM     97

Goals of Architecting Your Application for CM     98

7.1 Why Is Architecture Important?     99

7.2 Where Do I Start?     99

7.3 How CM Facilitates Good Architecture     99

7.4 What Architects Can Learn From Testers     99

7.4.1 Testing as a Service to the Developers     100

7.5 Configuration Management—Driven Development (CMDD)     101

7.6 Coping with the Changing Architecture     101

7.7 Using Source Code Management to Facilitate Architecture     102

7.8 Training Is Essential     102

7.9 Source Code Management as a Service     103

7.10 Build Engineering as a Service     103

Conclusion     103

Chapter 8 Hardware Configuration Management     105

Goals of Hardware CM     106

8.1 Why Is Hardware CM Important?     106

8.2 Where Do I Start?     107

8.3 When You Can’t Version Control a Circuit Chip     107

8.3.1 A Configuration Item by Any Other Name     107

8.3.2 Version Control for Design Specifications     108

8.4 Don’t Forget the Interfaces     108

8.5 Understanding Dependencies     108

8.6 Traceability     108

8.7 Deploying Changes to the Firmware     109

8.8 The Future of Hardware CM     109

Conclusion     109


Chapter 9 Rightsizing Your Processes     113

Goals of Rightsizing Your CM Processes     114

9.1 Why Is Rightsizing Your Processes Important?     115

9.2 Where Do I Start?     115

9.3 Verbose Processes Just Get in the Way     116

9.4 SPINs and Promoting the CMM     117

9.5 Disappearing Verbose Processes     117

9.5.1 Agile Processes Just Work     118

9.5.2 Open Unified Process     118

9.5.3 Getting Lean     119

9.5.4 An Extremely Brief Description That I Hope Motivates You to Take a Closer Look at Lean Software Development     119

9.6 The Danger of Having Too Little Process     120

9.7 Just-in-Time Process Improvement     120

9.8 Don’t Overengineer Your CM     120

9.9 Don’t Forget the Technology     121

9.10 Testing Your Own Processes     121

9.11 Process Consultation     122

9.11.1 Transparency That Is Genuine     122

9.12 Create a Structure for Sustainability     122

Conclusion     123

Chapter 10 Overcoming Resistance to Change     125

Goals of Overcoming Resistance to Change     126

10.1 Why Is Overcoming Resistance to Change Important?     127

10.2 Where Do I Start?     127

10.3 Matching Process to Culture     127

10.4 Mixing Psychology and Computer Programming     129

10.5 Process Improvement from Within     129

10.6 Picking Your Battles     131

10.7 Fostering Teamwork     131

10.8 Why Good Developers Oppose Process Improvement     132

10.9 Procedural Justice     132

10.10 Input from Everyone     132

10.11 Showing Leadership     133

10.12 Process Improvement People May Be the Problem     133

10.13 Combining Process and Technology Training     134

10.14 Listening to the Rhythm     135

10.15 Processes Need to Be Tested     136

10.16 Baby Steps and Process Improvement     136

10.17 Selling Process Improvement     137

10.18 What’s in It for Me?     137

10.19 Process Improvement as a Service     137

10.20 Guerrilla Tactics for Process Improvement     138

Conclusion     139

Chapter 11 Personality and CM: A Psychologist Looks at the Workplace     141

Goals of Understanding Personality: What’s in It for Me?     142

11.1 Personality Primer for CM Professionals     144

11.2 What Do CM Experts Need to Consider in Terms of Personality?     146

11.2.1 Communication Styles     147

11.2.2 Do Men and Women Use and Interpret Language Differently?     147

11.2.3 Effective Consultation     148

11.2.4 Verifying the Message     148

11.2.5 Information Processing Preferences     149

11.2.6 Birth Order at Work     150

11.2.7 Firstborns as Leaders     150

11.2.8 The Middle-Born Compromiser     151

11.2.9 The Youngest as Initiator     151

11.2.10 The Only Child     151

11.2.11 Being Yourself     152

11.3 Applying Psychology to the Workplace     152

11.3.1 Effective Teamwork Begins at Home     153

11.3.2 Volleyball or Effective Collaboration     153

11.3.3 Embedding Build Engineers and Testers in the Development Team     153

11.3.4 Blackbox Versus Whitebox Versus Graybox     154

11.3.5 Group Dynamics That Can Damage the Organization     154

11.3.6 Where CM and QA Fit In     154

11.4 Family Dynamics!     155

11.4.1 Indecisiveness     155

11.5 Workplace Culture and Personality     156

11.5.1 Personality and Structure     156

11.5.2 We Already Invented All the Good Ideas     157

11.5.3 Loose Cannons Who Don’t Want to Comply      157

11.5.4 Enforcing Process, While Still Keeping the Train Moving     158

11.5.5 Formulas for Success     158

11.5.6 Caveats     159

Conclusion     159

Chapter 12 Learning From Mistakes That I Have Made     161

Goals of Learning from Mistakes     162

12.1 Why Is It Important to Learn from Our Mistakes?     162

12.2 Where Do I Get Started?     162

12.3 Understanding Our Mistakes     163

12.4 The Mistakes I Have Made     163

12.4.1 Missing the Big Picture     163

12.4.2 Writing Release Automation Can Be Challenging .    164

12.4.3 Thinking That a Good Process Will Carry Itself     165

12.4.4 Failing to Gain Consensus     165

12.4.5 Failing to Show Leadership for CM     165

12.4.6 Becoming Part of the Problem     165

12.4.7 Forgetting to Ask for Help     166

12.5 Turning a Mistake into a Lesson Learned     166

12.5.1 Clarifying What I Need to Get the Job Done     166

12.5.2 Getting the Training That I Need     167

12.6 Common Mistakes That I Have Seen Others Make     167

12.6.1 Ivory Tower     167

12.6.2 Failing to Get Technical and Hands-On     167

12.6.3 Not Being Honest and Open     168

Conclusion     168


Chapter 13 Establishing IT Controls and Compliance     171

Goals of Establishing IT Controls and Compliance     172

13.1 Why Are IT Controls and Compliance Important?     173

13.2 How Do I Get Started?     173

13.3 Understanding IT Controls and Compliance     174

13.3.1 Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002     174

13.3.2 Management Assessment of Internal Controls     174

13.3.3 Committee of Sponsoring Organizations     175

13.3.4 Cobit as a Framework for IT Controls     176

13.3.5 What Does It Mean to Attest to And Report on the Assessment Made by the Management?     176

13.3.6 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996     177

13.3.7 When the GAO Comes Knocking     177

13.3.8 Results of the Audit     178

13.3.9 GAO Reports on NARA’s Configuration Management Practices     179

13.3.10 ERA Configuration Management Plan     179

13.3.11 Areas for Improvement     180

13.3.12 Understanding the Results of the Audit     180

13.3.13 Office of the Comptroller of the Currency     181

13.4 Essential Compliance Requirements     181

13.4.1 Providing Traceability of Requirements to Releases     182

13.4.2 Production Separation of Controls     182

13.5 The Moral Argument for Supporting CM Best Practices     182

13.6 Improving Quality and Productivity Through Compliance     183

13.7 Conducting a CM Assessment     183

13.7.1 Assessment First Steps     184

13.7.2 Listen First Regardless of How Bad the Situation Appears     184

Conclusion     185

Chapter 14 Industry Standards and Frameworks     187

Goals of Using Industry Standards and Frameworks     188

14.1 Why Are Standards and Frameworks Important?     188

14.2 How Do I Get Started?     189

14.3 Terminology Required     189

14.3.1 Configuration Item     189

14.3.2 Configuration Identification     190

14.3.3 Configuration Control     190

14.3.4 Interface Control     190

14.3.5 Configuration Status Accounting     191

14.3.6 Configuration Audit     191

14.3.7 Subcontractor/Vendor Control     192

14.3.8 Conformance Versus Noncompliance     192

14.4 Applying These Terms to the Standards and Frameworks     193

14.5 Industry Standards     193

14.5.1 IEEE 828–Standard for Software Configuration Management Plans     193

14.5.2 ISO 10007–Quality Management Systems–Guidelines for Configuration Management     195

14.5.3 ANSI/ITAA EIA-649-A–National Consensus Standard for Configuration Management     196

14.5.4 ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207 and 15288     196

14.6 Industry Frameworks     196

14.6.1 ISACA Cobit     197

14.6.2 CMM/CMMI     207

14.6.3 itSMF’s ITIL Framework     208

14.6.4 SWEBOK     214

14.6.5 Open Unified Process (OpenUP)     215

14.6.6 Agile/SCRUM     216

Conclusion     217

Index     219


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Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020