costs." If only if things were so simple.
From purely a financial view open source Configuration Management seems to be the
answer. There’s no cost, and it can do many of the functions that the market leaders
can. If only things were so simple.
As we all know life is not so simple and neither is choosing a Configuration Management system, as there are many considerations to take into account. One company I worked with went with a small player in the Configuration Management tool market and had huge problems recruiting administrators for the tool because no one in their area used the tool. There was also a very small knowledge base compared to the market leaders Clearcase
and PVCS Dimensions. Does this kind of consideration take place when people think about choosing a Configuration Management system? I don't think so.
This is the kind of decision needs to take place before the senior management consider purchasing a system or it could be an expensive mistake. Of course it won’t be the senior manager who is going to take the blame for that mistake either. Is it?
We can always fall back on is the old standard, "Hi Boss, what are the requirements?" The reply I usually get is, "I don't know."
Getting the requirements for your configuration management tools and environments
up front is going make or break your business case. Doing this will bring in all the considerations. In some cases after considering all the requirements I too have to question why they want to purchase such a big system. Its too much for them. I have several times recommended Subversion over ClearCase, not because I have any thing against ClearCase (I think it's great) but common sense told me to recommend Subversion.
In many cases the best choices are made based on common sense and my experience as a Configuration Manager.
These are real examples of how configuration management is not confined purely to the technical aspects of the role. There is far more to this role than meets the eye and a many times making others aware of it is quite difficult.
Recently, in the CM Crossroads Forums there was a thread talking about justifying Configuration Management at a company in which the project manager didn't want a Configuration Manager on the project. The incidents I just described helped prove the worth the Configuration Manager to the project and the project manger was convinced.
The Configuration Manager needs to know not only the products on a technical level but the information that surrounds the products ensuring the company gets the biggest bang for its buck!
Alan Rogers has been working as a Configuration Manager for the last 13 years and been in the IT industry for 17. He has worked on many projects both designing the Configuration Management infrastructure as well implementing it for many large companies for particular projects. A lot of these processes and standards that he developed for the project have in many cases been adopted as corporate standards. He also has an MBA from Henley Management College, which has been very useful when trying to explain Configuration Management to Senior Management, and is also a chartered Manager holding a MCIM.