Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book released in the US - Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams

Exciting news! My book “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams” which is on the world market is available in paperback and now as a Kindle ebook!  It is the first book of its kind that combines discussions on both CM and Agile. Agile is the facilitator of change while CM is the enabler of change. When done properly, CM provides the right level of control for Agile projects to maintain and increase its high level of velocity. CM for Agile can be a very powerful combination when done effectively.

How can it help you? Aimed at all levels of professionals in the Agile, Configuration Management (CM), Project Management, Product Management, and Development fields, this book provides very tangible support for Agile teams. It focuses on how CM with its practices and infrastructure can be adapted and managed in order to directly benefit Agile projects
What are some unique features of this book that can help you?

 • Provides both an Agile Primer and a CM Primer. For those experienced with CM, it provides a solid overview on Agile(or visa-versa on CM) so you can come up to speed. It can be great for someone who wants to learn both. It’s almost like a two-for-the-price-of-one book!

 • Provides insightful and concrete guidance on adapting CM for Agile methods while maintaining CM principles and allowing minimal structure needed for Agile projects to continue to run fast. Adapting CM for Agile doesn't mean throwing out the CM principles of identification, control, audit and report. Instead it means that CM should be adapted to allow the lean nature of Agile. The question is how do we do this? Inside, learn how to adapt:

o Continuous Integration and Build applying notions of bit-size tasks, right-sizing branches, minimizing merging, emphasizing continuous build, and testing with teeth.
o CM Planning (aka CM Vision) moving away from big-effort-up-front (BEUF) to a more evolutionary approach, applying an iteration 0 to get started, adapting CM roles and responsibilities, and using wikis and other CM formats.
o CM to support more effective Refactoring, Pair Programming, and Test Driven Development (TDD), Traceability, Baselines, Problem Management, CM Audit, and CM Reporting and lean metrics.
o CM support for Distributed Development for Agile teams when co-location is not an option by performing a distributed analysis and considering code access solutions, and supporting a Cloud infrastructure option.
o CM infrastructure for Agile thru implementing CM Envisioning for a brand new product following Agile methods or thru CM Refactoring to adapt CM for an existing product line moving to Agile methods.

• Will help you understand how the more modern CM features help with implementing Agile in an effective manner and that CM tools are a strategic Agile partner.
• Will help you understand how to more effectively support Agile when your organization, product, or project must align with standards and frameworks.

Again the book is called “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams” (ISBN-10: 0470746637). This book is available on both the Agile and Wiley websites. Also, if you want the original CM book which people love as a great CM reference book, feel free to consider, “Software Configuration Management Implementation Roadmap” (ISBN-10: 0470862645).

Have a great day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How Valuable is Configuration Management to Agile Professionals?

Being a strong proponent of both Agile and Configuration Management (CM), I was curious to learn if other Agile professionals perceived CM to be of value in an Agile setting. Having worked in both areas for some time, my initial hypothesis was "yes" Agile professionals do value CM. Having recently attended the "Give thanks for Scrum" event, both Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland referenced the importance of builds and control to Agile (a CM component).

Having worked in Agile teams and hearing stories from Agile and CM professionals, I decided to exercise my hypothesis and find out if in fact Agile professionals do find CM tools and processes to be of value in their software development work and at what level. With that in mind, I conducted two studies to determine the importance of CM.

The first study was conducted in both the “Agile Journal” and on “Linkedin” that focused on the importance of CM tools (e.g., version control) for Agile projects. it is interesting to note that this appears to be the first study of its kind. I provided five categories as possible answers to the question: Extremely Important; Very Important; Somewhat Important; Not very Important; and Not Important at all.

The results from this study (based on 208 respondents) was very telling and indicate that CM tools (or at least the version control function) are indeed important for Agile teams working in software development. When combining the number of respondents who answered either “Extremely Important” or “Very Important”, the result was a dramatic 94%. This is quite an amazing number.

This means that 75% of the respondents answering “Extremely Important” and 19% answering “Very Important”. I wonder if there are any other tools where 75% of Agile professionals would answer as being extremely important to their work. Respondents who answered “Not Very Important” or “Not Important at all” accounted for only 2%. While there were over 200 people who responded, I do not consider this conclusive data. However, it is certainly data to “chew on”.

The second study sought to drill down further as to which CM practices are perceived to be valuable by Agile professionals and which are more valuable than others. With this in mind, I conducted a second survey in the “Agile Journal” where I asked Agile professionals within a polling questionnaire to please place a value rating on each of the following CM functional areas:

• CM Planning (CM for the project including planning activities, roles, etc.)
• Version Control (tool with Check-out/check-in process)
• Build Management (tool with continuous build process)
• Branching and Merging (tool and continuous integration process)
• Change Control (process of managing changes)
• Problem Management (tool and process – a.k.a., defect tracking, issue mgt)
• Audit (process – baseline, etc.)
• Reporting/Status Accounting (process)
• Release Engineering (tool and process – a.k.a., migration and installation)

I provided 10 value choices (from 1 to 10) where 1 is the lowest value and 10 is the highest value. While not meant to be an exact survey, it provided some interesting data.

The results from this study (based on a modest 25 respondents) indicate a range of perceived values for the various CM functions. Build Management received the overall highest average value score with 9.21 (out of 10). This is not surprising since continuous integration and build is a highly valued practice for those who implement Agile. This was closely followed by Version Control which received an average value score of 9.13. This may be because of the recognized need of control due to the high volume of code changes. The high value of the version control function correlates well with the first study where a high percentage of Agile professionals indicated that CM tools (e.g., version control) were either extremely important or very important.

Branching and Merging is next with a score of 8.33. When considering that a big part of continuous integration assumes merging, then this high score is not surprising. Most interesting is Change Control with the fourth highest score of 7.92. In the survey, there was a short description included with Change Control that said “process of managing changes”. With this additional piece of information, it may be that Agile professionals align control of changes with iteration planning where change is periodically managed. While I do not consider this conclusive data, it is certainly data to “chew on”.

The conclusion is Configuration Management (CM) appears to be valued by Agile professionals after receiving a combined score of 94% who responded with either “Extremely Important” or “Very Important” from the first survey. Why this is may be because Agile is a facilitator of change that requires change mechanisms that can handle the high volume of change. CM provides those change mechanisms to ensure the integrity of change on a software project. Being a strong proponent of both Configuration Management and Agile, I am happy to see these results. For Agile professionals who have not yet considered CM as a valuable asset to their work, it may be time to do so now. It may be to your advantage. For Agile professionals who do understand this powerful combination, more power to you and it may be worth giving some of the CM functions a second look.

To see the full study on this topic, feel free to read the article the "Value of Configuration Management by Agile Professionals" found in the November 2009 edition of the Agile Journal found at:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Chicken (CM) or the Egg (Agile)…

What came first, Configuration Management (CM) or Agile? On the one hand, I've seen articles over the few couple of years that seem to indicate that trend toward Agile creates a new type of CM (e.g., Agile CM) although they seem to be subsiding. On the other hand, I’ve seen CM professionals (CM’ers) adapt their CM practices for an Agile methodology like Scrum.

I think CM'ers have been establishing CM systems that can handle any type of methodology (e.g., waterfall, hyrid waterfall, incremental, or iterative) needed for ages way before Agile became popular. Do you want builds to occur every day, every hour, continuously? It’s a simple cron job edit and now there are specific build tools to help. Do you want to have yearly, quarterly, monthly, or weekly releases? CM can handle that.

Agile certainly can provide a focus on the iterative and incremental nature of a development process by bringing something more tangible to look at sooner than later. This is very valuable. It gets you closer to what you want. Let’s hear from some other CM experts have said on this in the past:

Mark Bools said, “Configuration Management, when implemented correctly, defines interfaces that can be "plugged" into any development process.”

Brad Appleton said, “I agree that CM has always been able to deal with iterative development and frequent (e.g., daily) integration. And I think that when there is misalignment between the two, and development is "Agile", and CM is not on board with the corresponding value-system, then the CM implementation needs to be adjusted (but development needs to "give" some too - it can't be all one way). So, where shops were previously used to non-agile development and non-agile values, when they go to "Agile", the CM implementation will most likely need a big adjustment. it does create a new mind-set for implementing CM in such an enviornment (even if the tools & techniques already existed).”

Bob Aiello said, “CM has been around a long time. Process needs to be as thick (or as my Agile friends say - have enough ceremony) as necessary to get the job done and avoid mistakes. Your process needs to help us get the job done right each and every time without wasting our time on silly practices that happen to work well at the last show that we were in.”

Note: For more on Agile and CM, consider reading the book “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams” found on both and

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is a CM Tool?

Does this title sound silly? I mean, doesn’t everyone know what a Configuration Management (CM) tool is? Isn’t a Configuration Management CM tool something that provides version control functionality? Well, the short answer is yes (in part) but only in its most simplistic form. CM as a discipline goes well beyond simple version control. It is important to look beyond what vendors define as classic CM tools and consider CM in terms of the full practice and processes they offer. CM at its very essence covers identification, control, audit, and report. Many would expand control to include version control, change control, change management, build management, and release engineering. Now the answer to “what is a CM tool” becomes complex.

Agreeing on exactly all of the CM capabilities is not the point. The point is to ensure you are clear on what possible CM (or CM-related) capabilities there are and then deciding which ones are important to you. By first identifying and understanding the capabilities, provides a good starting point to identifying your needs and then further drilling down to capture requirements for a CM tool evaluation. More details on this topic can be found at:

Thoughts? Feel free to share with others.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Infrastructure for Agile Teams - Who are some "in the Clouds" service providers?

Unlike the past where organizations and product lines spent considerable time and large amounts of capital to establish local infrastructure, the future presents us with other options. They include (but not limited to) renting infrastructure "in the clouds" (e.g., in the internet), owning the server and renting space "in the clouds" (hosting service provider), and owning everything locally and on-premise (within your company). Focusing on "in the clouds", there are several types of "in the Clouds" service providers that allow teams to quickly get infrastructure set for Agile teams.

For those wanting to rent or lease a cloud infrastructure, this is a more recent concept and option that some organizations are utilizing where the infrastructure (servers, software, etc.) is effectively in the internet cloud. This service is sometimes known as cloud computing but have a variety of other names each with slightly different focuses and approaches including software as a service (SaaS) sometimes known as the application service provider (ASP) model, platform as a service (PaaS), application infrastructure provider (AIP). Some companies that provide cloud infrastructure include, Right Scale, Rackspace, GoGrid, and Caspio Bridge. Not all provide the exact same set of services, but they each provide aspects of cloud infrastructure services. Consider performing a search on “cloud infrastructure” for more service providers.

For those wanting to avoid the cost of having a secure datacenter on premises, then can rent a space in the clouds. Co-location as a service refers to renting space in the clouds by a service provider in order to physically host your server or servers. This is slightly different from cloud infrastructure where you rent a service that provides you access to infrastructure without necessarily knowing the details behind it. For co-location services include ColoSpace, I/O Data Centers, and Peer1 amongst others. They all provide either strictly collocation services or co-location as part of their set of services. Since co-location is most advantageous when the service is within your location, it is best to perform a search on “co-location” and possibly your city or state.

As you consider each of these approaches, take a good look at the amount of your budget, need for control, and even the development methodology you are considering. These factors can help you better evaluate the best infrastructure model that is best for your needs.