A software is a collection of items like programs, data, documents etc. that can be changed easily. Throughout the software development cycle the software design documents, software code or software requirements document etc. are changed often and it is very important that the changes done in software are done in a controlled manner.
Software Configuration Management(SCM) is the discipline for systematically controlling the changes in software and supporting documents (like Test Cases, Test Plan, Design Documents, SRS etc.) during the software development life cycle.
Software Engineering | System configuration management:
Whenever software is built, there is always scope for improvement, and those improvements bring changes to the picture. Changes may be required to modify or update any existing solution or to create a new solution for a problem. Requirements keep changing daily, so we must keep upgrading our systems based on the current requirements and needs to meet desired outputs.
Changes should be analyzed before they are made to the existing system, recorded before they are implemented, reported to have details of before and after, and controlled in a manner that will improve quality and reduce error. This is where the need for System Configuration Management comes. System Configuration Management (SCM) is a
n arrangement of exercises that controls change by recognizing the items for change, setting up connections between those things, making/characterizing instruments for overseeing diverse variants, managing the changes being executed in the current framework, inspecting and revealing/reporting on the changes made.
It is essential to maintain the changes because if the changes are not checked legitimately, then they may wind up undermining well-run programming. In this way, SCM is a fundamental piece of all project management activities. Processes involved in SCM – Configuration management provides a disciplined environment for smooth control of work products. It involves the following activities:
Identification and Establishment –
Identifying the configuration items from products that compose baselines at given points in time (a baseline is a set of mutually consistent Configuration Items, which has been formally reviewed and agreed upon and serves as the basis of further development).
They are establishing relationships among items creating a mechanism to manage multiple levels of control and procedures for the change management system.
Version control –
Creating versions/specifications of the existing product to build new products with the help of the SCM system. Suppose after some changes, the version of the configuration object changes from 1.0 to 1.1. Minor corrections and changes result in versions 1.1.1 and 1.1.2, followed by a significant update that is object 1.2.
The development of object 1.0 continues through 1.3 and 1.4, but finally, a noteworthy change to the object results in a new evolutionary path, version 2.0. Both versions are currently supported.
Change control –
A change request (CR) is submitted and evaluated to assess technical merit, potential side effects, the overall impact on other configuration objects and system functions, and the projected cost. The evaluation results are presented as a change report, which is used by a change control board (CCB) —a person or group who makes a final decision on the status and priority of the change.
An engineering change Request (ECR) is generated for each approved change. Also, CCB notifies the developer in case the change is rejected with proper reason. The ECR describes the change, the constraints that must be respected, and the criteria for review and audit. The object to be changed is “checked out” of the project database, the change is made, and then the object is tested again.
The object is then “checked in” to the database, and appropriate version control mechanisms are used to create the next version of the software.
Configuration auditing –
A software configuration audit complements the formal technical review of the process and product. It focuses on the technical correctness of the configuration object that has been modified. The audit confirms the completeness, correctness, and consistency of items in the SCM system and tracks action items from the audit to closure.
Providing accurate status and current configuration data to developers, testers, end users, customers, and stakeholders through admin guides, user guides, FAQs, Release notes, Memos, Installation guides, Configuration guides, etc.
System Configuration Management (SCM) is a software engineering practice that focuses on managing the configuration of software systems and ensuring that software components are adequately controlled, tracked, and stored. It is a critical aspect of software development, as it helps to ensure that changes made to a software system are properly coordinated and that the system is always in a known and stable state.
SCM involves a set of processes and tools that help to manage the different components of a software system, including source code, documentation, and other assets. It enables teams to track changes to the software system, identify when and why changes were made, and manage to integrate these changes into the final product.
The key objectives of SCM are to:
Control the evolution of software systems: SCM helps to ensure that changes to a software system are adequately planned, tested, and integrated into the final product.
Enable collaboration and coordination: SCM allows teams to collaborate and coordinate their work, ensuring that changes are appropriately integrated, and everyone is working from the same version of the software system.
Provide version control: SCM provides version control for software systems, enabling teams to manage and track different versions of the system and to revert to earlier versions if necessary.
Facilitate replication and distribution: SCM helps to ensure that software systems can be easily replicated and distributed to other environments, such as test, production, and customer sites.
SCM is a critical component of software development, and effective SCM practices can help to improve the quality and reliability of software systems, as well as increase efficiency and reduce the risk of errors.
The main advantages of SCM are:
We improved productivity and efficiency by reducing the time and effort required to manage software changes.
Reduced risk of errors and defects by ensuring that all changes were adequately tested and validated.
It increased collaboration and communication among team members by providing a central repository for software artifacts.
They have improved the quality and stability of software systems by ensuring that all changes are properly controlled and managed.
The main disadvantages of SCM are:
Increased complexity and overhead, particularly in large software systems.
Difficulty in managing dependencies and ensuring that all changes are correctly integrated.
Potential for conflicts and delays, particularly in large development teams with multiple contributors.
As per IEEE Software Configuration Management is:
“SCM is the process of identifying and defining the items in the system, controlling the changes of these items throughout their life cycle, recording and reporting the status of items and change requests, and verifying the completeness and correctness of items.