Hardware vs software configuration management Part 2

Last week we looked at the different kinds of configuration management and compared the differences between configuration management in software and in hardware.

This week, we look at the commonalities between them and how best to approach configuration management when software and hardware are concerned.

There are a lot of commonalities between software and hardware when it comes to configuration:

  • Requirements.
  • Test cases design documents.
  • Customer requests.
  • User documentation.
  • Problem reports.
  • Engineering activities and requests.
  • Waivers and deviations.
  • Item hierarchies.
  • Production/build.
  • Impact analysis.
  • Change packages/ECNs.
  • Test results.
  • As-designed and as-built baselines.

These elements are quite similar in both disciplines, but also have many differences.

Taking the above into consideration, it becomes clear that a two-prong approach in configuration management is needed to accommodate both the differences and the similarities between the two. For example, let’s look at problem reports.

The key is to be able to reproduce a problem based on the problem report itself. Software problem reports are virtually always functional in nature: “The feature doesn’t work the way it should”, e.g. a display may have more bad pixels per unit than specified. With hardware, “feature” is usually replaced with “specification”.

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Hardware problems are generally about a part; they’re part-centric. They might be initially described functionally, but a quick diagnosis can lead you to a defective part.

For software, the problems are almost always functional and the diagnosis can lead you to anything from finding a typo in the software, discovering a problem in the design, stumbling on a logic issue or misunderstanding the interface semantics. There are numerous ways to go about fixing these problems, and so there is no defective part, just a defective function.

So, from a configuration management perspective there are many differences between software and hardware configuration management. Consider how we track the problem and its resolution. In hardware, you may track the problem against the defective part; in software, you do this against the generic functional category. Your process must allow you to deal with hundreds or thousands of software problems each month. You would likely have difficultly processing that many hardware changes.

It is possible to use the same or at least a closely intertwined configuration management solution for both. Just remember that whereas you may try to attain zero-defect hardware, your goal in software will be to move from 1 000s to 100s to dozens of problems per million lines of code per month.

 
CONTACT STRATEGIX FOR ASSISTANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING:
  • Monitoring and management of network, server, storage and user devices, including proactive management of threatening activities, capacity issues and other systems and network management services.
  • Hardware and configuration management including operating systems and related license management.
  • Application software management.
  • Security management.
  • Automated backup and restore management services.