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Software Configuration Management: A Tutorial Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131364D
Original Publication Date: 1979-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 11 page(s) / 41K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Edward H. Bersoff: AUTHOR [+5]


CTEC, Inc.

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Software Configuration Management: A Tutorial

Edward H. Bersoff , Vilas D. Henderson , Stan G. Siegel CTEC, Inc.

Developers and buyers can avoid disappointments and cost overruns by carefully tracking software system configurations through the system life cycle.

Configuration management is a discipline traditionally applied to the development of hardware systems, or to the development of hardware elements of hardware-software systems. Its application, in conjunction with other disciplines, leads to orderly and structured system development. CM is generally concerned with the consistent labeling, tracking, and change control of the hardware elements of a system. Software configuration management is CM tailored to a system, or portion of a system, predominantly comprising software.

Why is there a need for a separate discipline pertaining specifically to the configuration management of software? The development of systems consisting of both hardware and software has traditionally been accomplished under the CM umbrella (Figure 1). However, published CM guidance generally treats the hardware subsystem in microscopic detail but treats the software subsystem as a single entity.'-i9 This superficial treatment of the software subsystem suppresses its visibility during the evolution of the overall system. This lack of visibility has typically resulted in a corresponding lack of management control.

SCM is intended to fill a void in the practice of managing software development projects. SCM does not differ substantially from the CM of hardwareoriented systems, which is generally well understood and effectively practiced. However, attempts to implement SCM have often failed because the particulars of SCM do not follow by direct analogy from the particulars of hardware CM and because SCM is an immature discipline that needs to be brought closer to maturity.


A concept of software SCM, like CM, is the discipline of identifying the configuration of a system at discrete points in time for purposes of systematically controlling changes to this configuration and maintaining the integrity and traceability of this configuration throughout the system life cycle. To understand the elements of the SCM discipline, it is necessary to formulate a concept of software. Let us say that software is information that is

(1) structured with logical and functional properties;

(2) created and maintained in various forms and representations during its life cycle; and

(3) tailored for machine processing in its fully developed state.

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