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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Configuration Management Activities

The view on configuration management in this book is process oriented. Therefore, the definition includes activity areas, which can be described in terms of process descriptions. The activity areas described in detail in the following paragraphs are identification, storage, change control, and status reporting.

Configuration management has many interactions with other development and support processes.

Metadata
All the activity areas in
configuration management share metadata for items placed under configuration management. Metadata is a database concept that means data about the data stored in the database. So metadata in this context describes the configuration items. Metadata for a configuration item may include its name, the name of the person who produced the item, the production date, and references to other related configuration items.
Change control uses metadata—for example, the trace information for a configuration item for which a change is suggested. Change control does not in itself contribute to metadata, because information produced during change control will be present only if a configuration item is affected by a suggested change. A configuration item can exist without change control information, but it can't exist without metadata.



Quality Assurance Process
Configuration management interacts with quality assurance, as illustrated by the item approval process that accompanies a configuration item from production to storage. The item approval, which may be a written quality record or verbal, is a product of quality assurance. Some see it as a product of configuration management, but it's actually the gateway from production to configuration management, provided by quality assurance.


Auditing
Auditing is included in some definitions of configuration management. An audit ensures that the product—the configuration item released for use—fulfills the requirements and is complete as delivered. This includes configuration management information, so that everything required is delivered in the expected versions and that the history of each item can be thoroughly accounted for. This activity area is not considered part of configuration management in this book. It's viewed as an activity area under general quality assurance, which partly concerns the products and partly the processes, rather than a configuration management activity area.
This may be a controversial point of view, but the idea of audits is a legacy from the Department of Defense origin of configuration management. Today there is a much broader understanding in the software industry of the importance of quality assurance and, therefore, also of configuration management.
Auditing uses configuration information extensively in the form of status reports, but it also uses quality assurance techniques and methods, such as reviewing and test. In practice, people involved in configuration management also carry out the audit.

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