Operating Systems

Data center managers must eliminate as much risk as possible while balancing the priorities of creating and managing new applications while supporting existing applications, including those developed by third-party software companies and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendors. This article explores the leading role Change and Configuration Management (CCM) solutions play in enterprisewide application development by providing organizations the ability to manage assets, reduce risk, and control and improve the process of building, changing and operating software systems.

Enterprise Change Management Challenges

The world of IT is in a constant state of flux. New technologies, applications, and platforms are constantly evolving. Most organizations must manage or support complex, multi-platform applications that span the enterprise, including the mainframe server. For example, an airline’s online ticketing program has a Web front-end and a browser-based interface connected to a back-office application on a Unix server that also interacts with a DB2 database on the mainframe. While the application has components on several different platforms, it’s still considered a single application because it serves a single business purpose: managing the online ticketing process.

Additionally, IT teams working on complex, multi-tier projects may be geographically dispersed to take advantage of follow-the-sun development opportunities. For example, at the end of their day, a team in California hands off development projects to a team in Japan who works on it and passes it onto a third team in the U.K. The U.K. group works through their day and then turns the project over to a team in New York, who passes it on to the team in California, and the development cycle continues.

Every application now has a Web front-end—with all the associated HTML pages and Web content—to capitalize on Internet-driven business opportunities. Clearly, enterprise CCM solutions have emerged as essential infrastructure components in the enterprisewide application development arena.

As application development projects become more diverse—spanning from Web-enablement to high-powered, cross-platform applications written with multiple development tools, the disciplines surrounding application development (specifically, software change and configuration management) are rapidly expanding. CCM solutions provide a management focal point for integration initiatives that traditionally focus on system management and automation tools such as alert management, software distribution, and service desk management.

As new development accelerates, applications managers must maintain service levels. Teams need to do more with less—less time, money and fewer resources. Development must continue to push to exceed beyond previous best efforts and deliver applications that offer greater functionality and increased efficiency. On top of that, organizations must ensure applications comply with corporate and IT governance initiatives. In addition, enterprise CCM must take center stage within organizations with quality initiatives and improvement projects in place—whether they’re implementing the Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model or the ISO 9002 standard. If CCM fails to play a leading role in the organization, the cost of application failure could be enormous. Recently, a large European bank allowed a non-euro-compatible version of a program to enter production, resulting in thousands of accounts being overdrawn to the tune of $4 billion. What if the money had actually been given to customers? How would the bank recoup its losses? Would it ever regain total customer confidence?

Clearly, this kind of error is catastrophic. Moreover, repairing the damage requires a monumental programming effort. Only an infrastructure supported by a robust, integrated CCM solution would be able to withstand this type of disaster.

Basic CCM Concepts

These concepts will provide a better understanding of the vital role CCM plays in the application development process.

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