Longacre Deployment Management for Enterprise Configuration Management

[article]
Summary:
Longacre Deployment Management (LDM ) is an enterprise-level CM technique that provides robust, accurate CM functions in broadly diverse development environments. LDM solves many of the problems associated with database systems; and with organizations composed of teams using different technologies, in different places, or formed from different organizations. It is an existing technique-LDM has already been deployed in a complex development environment. This article is not a case study: it provides the technical details of the LDM technique. If you are not a CM specialist, your eyes are going to glaze over.

Longacre Deployment Management (LDM ) is an enterprise-level CM technique that provides robust, accurate CM functions in broadly diverse development environments. LDM solves many of the problems associated with database systems; and with organizations composed of teams using different technologies, in different places, or formed from different organizations. It is an existing technique-LDM has already been deployed in a complex development environment. This article is not a case study: it provides the technical details of the LDM technique. If you are not a CM specialist, your eyes are going to glaze over.

Motivation

LDM was developed to address a real need. A recent customer had glaring CM problems in an enterprise that involved many different development technologies (Cobol/iSeries, Java/Linux, .NET/Windows) including a database-intensive 4GL built on an Oracle/Java/Windows development platform. The development environment included different teams, with different management chains. The development teams were spread across several geographically distributed locations. The problems and some solutions are described in an accompanying article, "Case Study: Enterprise and Database CM," by Austin Hastings and Ray Mellott.

An experienced IT manager recognized the problems as being CM problems, and called for help on the CM Crossroads web site. That call for help strongly resonated with this explanation of the underlying mission of software CM, by Wayne Babich:

On any team project, a certain degree of confusion is inevitable. The goal is to minimize this confusion so that more work can get done. The art of coordinating software development to minimize this particular type of confusion is called configuration management . Configuration management is the art of identifying, organizing, and controlling modifications to the software being built by a programming team. The goal is to maximize productivity by minimizing mistakes.

LDM is another way to coordinate software development. Its strengths are support for development of database components, and a high level of abstraction that permits different technologies, different teams, and different geographic locations to be part of the same development effort. According to IEEE Std. 610,

Configuration Management is a discipline applying technical and administrative direction and surveillance to identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of a configuration item, control changes to those characteristics, record and report change processing and implementation status, and verify compliance with specified requirements.

LDM supports or enables all of these elements of CM.

Overview

LDM divides into two parts. The front end consists of traditional change tracking entities. The back end is non-traditional, and will need more detailed explanation. Development of the LDM technique was enabled and influenced by the flexible issue work flow definition tools provided by modern issue tracking systems, and by the ITIL Service Desk model.

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Many standard CM operations are taken completely for granted-LDM requires a modern CM tool as its implementation platform. Our implementation was built on MKS's Integrity 2006 system, with WebSphere, MKS Implementer, Microsoft's .NET development suite, and a host of other development tools.

Front End

The front end of the process includes a basic implementation of the Task-Level Commit pattern implemented using fine-grained Work Items (tasks) to track specific changes and larger Change Order entities for the usual CM "heavy lifting." The labels Change Order and Work Item are chosen by analogy with the traditional business entities Purchase Order and Line Item. The front end entities in LDM are those most commonly used by developers, and so they are deliberately very common: aside from the simplified life cycle, detailed later, there should be few surprises in the front end for anyone accustomed to a modern CM solution.

Change orders are enterprise-specific. They store the detailed description, test case links, test

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