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configuration management

configuration management (CM) Ensuring throughout its lifetime that a product put to some usage is properly constituted for that usage – for example that the correct procedures have been followed in creating the product, that the appropriate version of each individual component has been selected, that any required tests have been performed, that the product represents a complete and consistent whole, and that all known problems in any way pertinent to the product have been properly considered. As an illustration, a relatively simple configuration management activity might ensure that the individual components of a software system are the appropriate ones for the particular hardware on which the system is to run. A rather more complex activity might be to assess the impact on all software systems of a newly discovered problem with some version of a compiler, and to initiate any necessary corrective action.

The problems of configuration management can be complex and subtle, and for many projects effective configuration management can be crucial to overall success. Approaches to configuration management fall into two broad classes. One approach attempts to retain control over the product as it evolves, so that configuration management is viewed as a continuous activity that is an integral part of product development. The other approach views configuration management as a separate activity; it is a distinct milestone when the product is first placed under configuration management, and each new revision of the product is subject to the configuration management process, but configuration controls are not imposed during periods of development.

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