CM systems growth that will enable them to grow into true organizational backbones. The goal is to keep your information available, to keep your processes running and your data safe. Look for:
- Hot-standby Disaster recovery
- Checkpointing and recovery capability
- Ultra High Reliability and Availability (99.95% or < 4 hrs per yr)
- Information Security Levels
- Recovery from Malicious/Subtle Data Corruption
- Proven Longevity of the Tool on projects older than 10 years
Useability will benefit from the improvements in CM functional capabilities. But beyond that, senior levels of management will begin to rely on the CM tools. The CM tools will provide the high levels of reporting and interactive navigating required to make decisions during a meeting. Look for:
Extensive Reporting Formats (XML, Spreadsheet, HTML, Text, etc.)
Advanced Interactive Browsers (Hyperdata, Tree-browse, form browse, etc)
Executive Summary and Interactive Drill-down Capabilities
Wide set of Standard IDE/3rd Party Tool Integrations
Beyond the Fourth Generation
Beyond the 4G CM tool, we'll see the CM centric system grow into an Enterpise Management System. Expect to see an expansion of functionality to support a wider definition of product management, including Time Sheet Management and Analysis, Budgeting, Risk Management, Integrated Quality Assessment, Web Site Management, ITIL compliant CM Deployment, HR Management and Sales Tracking, which has no other place to attach itself.
The expansion of CM tools into these areas will occur as XRAD (eXtremely RAD) capabilities are bundled with the CM capabilities. Organizations, large and small, will have the capability to rapidly define and customize their applications and processes using the same repository and tools used in their CM and product management environments.
From a useability perspective, more and more non-technical users will find that they can benefit from Change Control and Configuration Management: lawyers, accountants, media content providers, and so forth. A few simple operations from the Operating System menus (save my work, show my history, show a change, yank a change, etc.) will make this possible. The CM engine will move to a more center stage position within the OS.
Disaster Recovery will give way to Continuous Operation. Take down one site and end-users won't notice - like card and shelf redundancy in high reliabilty telecom and aerospace products.
So Where Are We Now
So we have painted a grand plan. Is it likely to be followed? It doesn't really matter. What matters is getting the ideas on the table so that the market place starts demanding them. This is what will ultimately drive the industry. Users are too focused on their own shops and problems to be able to paint this plan. Vendors and Consultants see dozens, if not hundreds of sites per year - they must interact with users to form this vision, and not simply to meet today's requirements.
But in the mean time, we need to understand where we are now. There are dozens of tools, and each has their strengths. With input from others, this author will attempt to refine the definition of CM generations so that we can measure our existing tools and get a real idea of what it means to leap from one generation of CM to another. One goal will be to be able to compare CM tools more objectively.
Perhaps you disagree with some of these projections, or perhaps you see them happening along different timelines. I welcome your input.