Is Software Configuration Management Dead?

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The other day on LinkedIn’s SCM Professional Network forum, someone asked whether software configuration management (SCM) is dead. As of January 22, 2013, there are thirty-nine replies since this question was posted on January 2, 2013. Not satisfied with the answers or my own thinking at the time, I decided to look deeper into this topic. Is SCM dead or is it simply morphing into something else? And why is this important to you as a SCM person? Hopefully, you’ll discover that answer as you read on.

Mario Moreira touts his book as an answer to this very question. While I didn’t read his book, others like him mentioned agile and lean methodologies as reasons why SCM will not die; SCM is taken seriously by the agile world. Additionally, the vendor AccuRev offers its opinion on agile SCM and agile development and provides some white papers dealing with SCM and how its toolset can help.

Obviously, there are people who feel that SCM is very much needed in the agile world, and I would agree with that statement as well. Some folks mentioned that CM and application lifecycle management (ALM) are converging; for this perspective, I return to Mario and his post about this on his CM blog.

Joe Farah of Neuma Technology (and a TechWell Contributor) is also a proponent of the idea of CM and ALM converging. I definitely think this could be happening since some professionals in our field feel like they are practicing “faux” CM when we start talking about the differences between SCM and hardware configuration management.

The SCM-to-ALM option is reasonable to believe because of the nature of SCM and the lifecycle of applications. As a SCM practitioner, I feel the reach of SCM is far and wide as it applies to the software development lifecycle. For another perspective, UK’s The Register explores ALM with a DevOps angle, looking at the movers and shakers in the industry.

As I continued my journey, I started to get the notion that maybe SCM was not becoming ALM, but that ALM was leaving SCM behind or morphing it into the greater ALM mantra. Several websites and blogs, while not presenting ALM as a substitute for SCM, believe we are headed in that direction.

I think we can draw one main conclusion from this journey: Things are changing in the SCM world. As SCM professionals, we have to ask ourselves, "Are we going to lead or are we going to follow?"

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Joe Townsend

Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.