Software Configuration Management

Businesses need to continuously offer new user functionalities to stay relevant in the growing digital arena. Utilizing custom software development enables you to create systems that can fulfill your unique and varying business requirements. However, it is not easy to manage such a complex system. Software configuration management (SCM) is essential to maintain complete control over your complex system throughout its life cycle. It helps you keep up with the competitive market and shifting technological trends. This article acts as a guide to an effective SCM process.

1. What Is Configuration Management?

Configuration management involves systematically managing and controlling changes to a system’s configuration throughout its lifecycle. In simple terms, it is a systematic procedure for developing and maintaining standardization in software across various aspects, including performance, functionality, and visual characteristics. 

2. Why Is Software Configuration Management (SCM) Important?

Through the use of Configuration Management, it is possible to prevent unauthorized modifications to the system. Compliance difficulties, discrepancies in the system, or poor performance can all result in fines and penalties from regulators. Configuration Management (CM) can assist in avoiding these problems. System instability, failure, or downtime may result from these undetected changes over time.

The main goals of Software Configuration Management are configuration control, configuration idioms and baselines, and implementing a process to control changes. This is usually achieved by setting up a change control board. Also, software configuration management (SCM) involves maintaining configuration status accounting, reporting, and documenting essential information related to the software development process.

In large software systems, performing these activities manually is extremely complicated. Without sufficient documentation, IT organizations risk losing track of which systems need attention, how to fix problems, which assignments should be given priority, and if changes have been verified and carried throughout the software system. Software configuration management involves a large number of components for each application.

An enterprise may develop and maintain settings consistently by following specified baselines using a configuration management system.

Every service uses metadata to store information for setting up resources, such as private information like passwords, and defining connections to other services for authorization and setup. With the increasing adoption of microservices architecture, comprising multiple code segments of different sizes linked by APIs, the necessity for a unified configuration management process gets even clearer.

A configuration management strategy uses various technologies to create a “single version of the truth” for the organization’s intended system state. This approach ensures that all configuration alterations are visible, audit trails are established, and every change made to the system is recorded.

3. How does Configuration Management Fit with DevOps, CI/CD, and Agile?

The management of application configurations was formerly handled manually by software developers or system administrators. They recognized the importance of automating configuration management when transitioning to cloud architecture. As a result, to lessen development bottlenecks, they have included the job in numerous software practices, such as:

  • DevOps Configuration Management

By automating the sharing of resources, DevOps helps to bridge the distance among operations and development teams, hence increasing productivity. In software engineering,  proactively planning for changes at the beginning of the software development lifecycle(SDLC) is possible with configuration management. To ensure production readiness in a DevOps environment, the software engineering team must test, monitor, and manage configuration changes.

  • CI/CD Configuration Management

A software version ready for deployment can be maintained in the repository with periodic code changes using Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) for reliable deployments. A well-managed configuration allows developers to create a pipeline that automatically recreates test environments based on user-defined parameters.

  • Agile Configuration Management

Agile is a methodology for managing projects that use iterative, incremental approaches in software development. It enables faster configuration of underlying resources during software update releases through integration with configuration management. This process enables tracking specific configuration items including source code files, configuration files, and libraries.

4. 5 Steps of Software Configuration Management Process

A software configuration management process is a set of procedures for keeping tabs on and managing software configurations of a project’s resources, codes, documents, hardware, and finances. The SCM process is multi-level and involves individuals from various backgrounds. The following are the key stages that make up effective software configuration management. 

4.1 Configuration Planning and Identification

The first stage of Software Configuration Management is planning and identifying computer software configuration. Software engineers map out the roadmap of software projects and prioritize tasks based on their importance. To establish the project’s fundamental parameters and structure of the project, the team typically holds meetings and brainstorming sessions.

With the project’s timeline, deadline, and exit criteria defined, the software development team proceeds to plan its execution. At this point, you should also be keeping track of the software configuration items and organizing the fundamentals like identifying who is responsible for making changes and setting deadlines for their implementation.

4.2 Version Control Process or Baselines

The product’s continuous integrity is guaranteed by identifying an authorized software version during the version control and baseline steps. At one point in the SCM process, this baseline is defined, and changing it requires following a specific protocol.

Maintaining control over the product’s evolution is the goal of this stage within Version Control. Multiple iterations of the program are created while continuously establishing new baselines as the software project progresses.

The following tasks are involved in this stage:

  • The first step is to list all the parts that fall under the scope of the project. which involves;
    • Making a system to keep track of the software’s version history.
    • Finding the key connections between different parts.
    • Building the product’s developmental, effective, and product-specific baselines.
    • Creating a consistent system of labels for products, updates, and files to ensure clarity and cooperation.

When a parameter is baselined in a project, any changes to that attribute will trigger formal configuration change control procedures.

4.3 Change Control

Modifications must be consistent with the rest of the project for change control to be effective. These processes help in releasing fresh baseline data and ensuring software quality. It is now the time for the software configuration manager or supervisor to approve or reject the team’s requests for configuration changes.

The most common requests are to add or update configuration items or change user permissions. Furthermore, configuration records need to be tightly controlled to provide a comprehensive audit trail that spans from the initial request to the final product.

4.4 Configuration Auditing Process

Ensuring the project progresses as expected requires testing and evaluating the software against the established baselines. To make sure the program is ready for launch, it’s important to review the release notes and any other relevant documentation for each update. Software configuration management tasks include tracking all released versions, analyzing their changes, and determining their need.

4.5 Auditing and Verification

The purpose of an audit is to ensure that the current configuration (in whatever form it takes) is consistent with the desired configuration at any given time. Issues often arise in configuration management projects when physical assets (metadata) or tangible assets (material, supplies, code, or other configuration assets) are lost or do not meet expectations. By following the auditing approach, you can ensure that the configuration pieces are exactly what you want. All modification requests processed up to this point, as well as the initial baseline, provide the basis for these assumptions.

5. Advantages and Disadvantages of SCM


  • With the help of configuration management, an entire system can be upgraded to the latest version while simultaneously adapting to new update requirements in a coordinated manner, all without interrupting program functionality.
  • As a commutation tool, SCM technologies can detect changes from the agreed-upon baseline and send out notifications and reports accordingly.
  • Using SCM, you can enhance your software development life-cycle process and ensure that your software development product is being monitored and audited correctly.


  • Software configuration management technologies and processes may not be practical for small-scale projects and companies.
  • Some company configurations may not be able to support the SCM process since it requires fast and highly configured hardware for the development stages.
  • Indeed, to prevent setbacks and errors, the SCM process team must possess a comprehensive understanding of the software configuration management technologies.

6. Top Configuration Management Tools

Managing software configurations is easy and can be facilitated by various methods. The goal of these technological advancements is to improve control, speed, and accuracy by automating tasks that were traditionally performed by humans.

A reliable configuration management system will send notifications and reports if anything deviates from the baseline, allowing for the detection of setup differences. Here are a few of the best configuration management tools available, both free and paid:

6.1 CFEngine


IT teams can effectively automate and control their systems with CFEngine, an open-source configuration management tool. This SCM tool compliance reports, policy regulation, and configuration management can all be automated on this platform.

Companies can benefit from CFEngine’s advanced features in downtime reduction, security enhancement, and resource optimization. In addition to being compatible with a wide range of configuration management tools and techniques, and supports many operating systems, such as Windows operating systems, Linux operating systems, and Unix operating systems.

Also, CFEngine allows teams to establish and enforce configuration policies throughout their whole infrastructure, ensuring that all devices and applications are configured according to the business requirements.

6.2 Chef


Cloud and server virtual machine installs are where Chef excels in configuring software and data on machines. An ideal method for constructing and managing the infrastructure can be found on this automation platform also ensuring it remains compliant and up-to-date.

As a software configuration management tool, Chef stands out by providing a solution that minimizes defects and increases service resilience during software development.

6.3 Puppet


To automate and monitor complex IT infrastructure, many IT teams rely on Puppet, an open-source configuration management platform. The platform ensures that systems are configured appropriately and consistently across diverse settings by providing a centralized location for managing infrastructure configurations.

Also, it lets IT departments establish, monitor, and enforce settings throughout their infrastructure, ensuring that all systems are configured correctly and consistently. To wrap it all off, it simplifies the management and maintenance of complex IT infrastructures by offering a unified view of configuration status and alerting IT staff to unauthorized systems.

6.4 SaltStack

Hundreds of thousands of systems and IT assets can be managed using Salt, an application for configuration and execution management. Python is used to store configuration information and execute tasks, prioritizing quick data collection. Salt defines a platform and its settings in state files to ensure they are maintained in the desired state. To enhance its utility, a client-server architecture is implemented.

6.5 Ansible


Ansible is one of the top open-source SCM tools, serves as an automation engine, deployment, and orchestration tool. This SCM tool is newer than Chef and Puppet. It is even included in popular Linux distributions, like Fedora. Ansible facilitates the automation of IT infrastructure, including software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment, leading to significant increases in productivity.

With Ansible, you can run the same programs on various servers without exiting the command prompt. Additionally, it can automate processes like adding clients, downloading packages, and modifying server configurations through the use of YAML(Yet Another Markup Language) playbooks. Ansible is a great tool for both programmers and non-programmers due to its straightforward, agentless, and relatively simple-to-understand nature.

7. Conclusion 

Managing and controlling variations in settings throughout the software development life cycle is the goal of software configuration management.

Recent years have witnessed tremendous advancements in configuration management, allowing for the remote deployment of configuration changes with minimal code.

Configuration management is essential for the smooth operation of any digital system, including software development, cloud computing, and IT infrastructure. That is why it is critical to employ top-tier CM platforms and technologies to ensure dependable functionality throughout a product’s lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is software configuration management?

Configuration management involves systematically managing and controlling changes to a system’s configuration throughout its lifecycle.

2. What are the 5 main functions of software configuration management? 

  • Configuration Identification
  • Configuration Change Control
  • Configuration Auditing
  • Configuration Status Accounting tracks
  • Version Control
Itesh Sharma

Itesh Sharma is core member of Sales Department at TatvaSoft. He has got more than 6 years of experience in handling the task related to Customer Management and Project Management. Apart from his profession he also has keen interest in sharing the insight on different methodologies of software development.


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