Configuration Management is the effective management of an Information System. The optimum utilization of an Information System is done by maintaining the standards in terms of performance efficiency, functional accuracy, and the consistency of physical attributes of the involved parameters.
The Information System essentially involves the hardware and the software components of a larger system. The creation of an effective Information System would involve the conceptualization, implementation, and realization of the system as a whole, plus its individual components. This would involve documentation of the usages, needs, and various quality parameters of the software and hardware components of the system, keeping in mind the overall information architecture. The true realization of an effective Information System would mean comprehensive testing of all the features of the Information System.
Therefore Configuration Management can be described as management of an Information System leading to its better utilization, and maintenance of the integrity of the system involving the software, hardware, testing, and documentation of each component as well as the whole system.
The implementation of configuration management to the different aspects of an Information System would need customization of the process and parameters, but the fundamentals can be broadly summarized as below:
Identification of the configurable process, parameters, or item. Any object which has an end user can be considered a configurable object and needs to be noted in the identification stage.
Example – In a software development project the configurable items would be the high level requirement document, detail design document, design architecture, object code, executable code, data files, testing documents, test cases, testing evidences, project management document, resource tracking document, etc. All of these individual components have an end user as such as developer, tester, or manager, and therefore they need to be identified and noted down.
Implementation of a configuration management system would involve laying down the respective parameters or methodology for the implementation of the configuration management system.
Example: If we are doing the configuration management of an internal Information Technology network for an organization, one of the areas – hardware – would have its individual components identified. The examples of the individual components could be computer systems (laptops, desktops), printers, servers, routers, internet cabling wires, photo copier, telephones, and security devices, etc. The implementation of the configuration system would be mean documenting the individual technical specification of the hardware, documenting the inter-dependency of the hardware devices, documenting the performance parameters of the devices, and documenting the software and hardware dependency, to say the least. The testing of the respective hardware devices, and the documentation of the testing and the results, would also be part of the process.
Similarly, all independent and inter-dependent attributes of the configurable items are noted and documented in this stage.
Since the attributes of an Information System would undergo changes and are usually dynamic in nature, the set of processes and procedures set out to control the changes in the Configuration Management is also an integral part.
Example: Changes in the code of software, and changes in the documentation of the requirements of the software are examples where frequent changes are required to keep up with the dynamics of the requirements and end results. The set of procedures where the information flows through a channel with proper traceability is change control. This might be done through software itself. The key result targeted through this step is maintaining traceability of the changes, maintaining consistency with the requirement, implementation and end result, and maintaining the quality of the Information System throughout its life.
Eg . Version control of document, software releases.
These are set of checks which are registered and accounted for in order to keep a track of the configurable checkpoints attached with each configurable item. These checks can be scheduled at regular intervals of time; however they can be done at any point of time to check the effective implementation of change control.
These are comprehensive checks of functional and physically configurable items at the time of delivery or changes affecting the information system. It involves maintaining the sanity of the Information System - keeping all design, architecture, as well as operational information of the system.
Benefits of Configuration management:
- Helps in minimizing the impact of changes
- Helps in financial and expenditure planning
- Higher productivity of the existing resources
- Prevent unauthorized access to assets
- Coordinate, track and manage change activities
- Improved end user (customer) satisfaction
- Breakdown prevention
- Better risk management
- Helps to manage legal obligations
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