The Evolution of Configuration Management and a Fond Farewell


After fifteen years as a trusted source of configuration management information and best practices, CMCrossroads is halting its publication of weekly articles. While the current publishing model is changing, the site will remain active and will be updated regularly with relevant articles from our sister sites, StickyMinds and AgileConnection. Bob Aiello, technical editor of CMCrossroads, says thanks to our loyal readers and contributors and lets you know how you can stay connected.

CMCrossroads, which began in 1997 as a forum for a tool called Harvest, has been a trusted source of configuration management information and best practices for more than fifteen years. With a diverse group of professionals sharing their extensive knowledge and valuable experience, articles have covered a variety of bleeding-edge topics, including approaches to application build, package, and deployment, and ranged from simple tips and tricks to comprehensive strategies and thoughts about evolving frameworks.

This article is the last content written specifically for CMCrossroads, and I am moving on from my role as the site’s technical editor. Though our weekly articles are stopping, the site will remain active and will be updated regularly with relevant articles from our sister sites, StickyMinds and AgileConnection.

The field of configuration management has truly evolved, from early strategies around version control and scripting builds to discussions of software methodology that certainly developed a much broader focus than we had initially imagined when we started this journey. Build scripting using Ant, Maven, and Make were once only the realm of a few gurus; today, you can access comprehensive guidance and helpful examples by entering just a few keywords in your favorite search engine.

Industry practitioners, business analysts, and many end-users talk about DevOps and continuous delivery with the expectation that complex systems can be updated as often as needed while providing both reliability and security. While once only of interest to technology professionals, we now find more QA, business analysts, and product managers are focused on the capabilities required for robust software delivery practices. CM best practices are regarded as full lifecycle endeavors that impact not only the success of a given project, but the overall health of the business itself.

Today we talk about continuous integration, continuous delivery and deployment, continuous testing, and continuous security. Capabilities that years ago were unimaginable are now considered commonplace. We have evolved strategies around virtualization and cloud-based computing that truly add value and enable even more advanced capabilities. Container-based deployments have become the latest mountain to climb, with many of us learning technologies such as Docker, Swarm, Mesos, and Kubernetes.

Yet the industry still suffers from far too many incidents where systems are not reliable or can be penetrated by those with malicious intent. Software is used in mission-critical applications from life support systems to self-driving cars, and we need to ensure that we continue to improve the state of the art to support these efforts. There is no doubt that software methodology will continue to drive the industry to develop systems that are robust, reliable, and secure.

For me personally, writing became a way to share what I had learned as well as my preferred path to learning new approaches, technologies, and methodologies. When I really needed to master some new technology, I would write about it and look forward to getting feedback from my colleagues.

The collaboration and strong sense of partnership has been amazing throughout this time. I have many CMCrossroads friends I had “known” for ten years or more before we actually met in person. I sat across from these colleagues, marveling at how close I felt to them even though our only interaction was through the virtual communities, online forums, and articles we shared. When I was challenged at work or in my career, I often came to CMCrossroads for help and was always amazed at the willingness of my colleagues to share their knowledge and experience.

While the current publishing model for CMCrossroads is changing, I am sure that we will all continue to be active in social media and online forums. I have now written, edited, or contributed to four books, and much of what I have shared I learned from my colleagues and these amazing experiences. With every door that closes, another one opens, and I certainly expect to continue to write articles and books and, equally importantly, to encourage others to author articles and blog posts to share their extensive knowledge and experience.

I would like to thank everyone who helped make CMCrossroads such an amazing success, beginning with my editorial mentor, Patrick Egan, who recruited me as the CMCrossroads editor, a role I have enjoyed to this day. We remember fondly talented colleagues such as Ben Weatherall, who often made us laugh through his description of silly fictional characters while sharing his own extensive knowledge and experience. I especially want to thank each of you who has contributed articles, commented online, and generally made being an author and editor an interactive and truly exciting experience.

The greatest joy for me was helping folks write their first articles, and I intend to continue to be a catalyst for sharing industry best practices in all aspects of software methodology, including configuration management, continuous integration, delivery, deployment, testing, and security. TechWell will continue to publish articles on agile, testing, and other essential software development capabilities, and I am sure that we will all want to participate in those efforts. There is always more work to be done in a field that evolves as rapidly as ours.

I sincerely hope that you will connect with me via social media and continue to exchange ideas, knowledge, and capabilities. As I wish everyone a fond farewell, I also extend a friendly call to arms: Let us continue this journey through social media and all of the venues available to us. Thank you so much for this experience, and I look forward to our continued work together!

User Comments

Mark DeVries's picture


I will greatly miss you and your blog!  You have made significant contributions to this area for many years, and I consider you to be one of the foremost authorities on Configuration Management, particularly in the Agile world.

As you stated, there will continue to be good discussion around CM within the greater Agile community, but your blog brought much needed focus to this niche at a most critical time for the development and refinement of CM.


Thanks for your tireless and outstanding contributions.  I hope to see future blogs under your name!

July 13, 2016 - 10:23am

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