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Configuration Management is a discipline which includes all activities related to the products evolution management throughout their life cycle. This requires identifying, organizing and controlling the product changes in order to increase productivity while minimizing errors and improving quality. Proper use of this concept is essential for innovation, so that organizations should pay attention to it. In this paper, we explain the lesson learned of a R&D center which has applied a set of suggested processes for configuration management in the delivery of eServices and a workflow tool to support part of it. configuration management; workflow; design management
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Configuration Management for eServices
A Lesson Learned in a R&D center.
Marco Ferruzca
Faculty of Design & Arts
UAM-Azcapotzalco
Mexico City, Mexico
marco.ferruzca@gmail.com
Joaquín Fernández, Josep Monguet, Mónica
Sampieri, Francesc Alpiste, Edgar Castelán,
Miguel Brigos
School of Engineers
UPC-Barcelona Tech
Barcelona, Spain
{jfernandezupclam, monguet.upc, sampierimonic,
francesc.alpiste, ediatreyu, miguel.brigos}@gmail.com
AbstractConfiguration Management is a discipline which
includes all activities related to the products evolution
management throughout their life cycle. This requires
identifying, organizing and controlling the product changes in
order to increase productivity while minimizing errors and
improving quality. Proper use of this concept is essential for
innovation, so that organizations should pay attention to it. In
this paper, we explain the lesson learned of a R&D center
which has applied a set of suggested processes for
configuration management in the delivery of eServices and a
workflow tool to support part of it.
configuration management; workflow; design management
I. INTRODUCTION
As we know, IT services are critical to the success of
business initiatives. Thus more solutions are needed to
facilitate companies understand their people, process, and
technology problems [1].
Configuration Management (CM) integrates all the
activities linked with the evolution management of products
throughout their life cycle. To achieve this goal it is
necessary to identify, to organize and to control the product
modifications with the aim to increase productivity and to
minimize errors while improving quality [2]. From a general
point of view, we propose that CM is a useful concept not
just to be aware of changes in the IT infrastructure but in the
organization performance too. CM fosters awareness within
organizations at different levels. Supporting awareness in
this case means to keep update with IT infrastructure, ideas,
knowledge and activities within the organization. The CM
process also includes the definition of policies, role,
responsibilities, technical tools, etc.
In this paper we present a design approach of a
Configuration Management process which has been useful
for a R&D center where new prototypes of eServices are
created, overall for the health and education domains. These
prototypes are innovation outputs of some research projects
developed along with firms, public administration, and other
kind of organizations [3].
We also present the description of a workflow tool
implemented in the organization to trace, register and
measure user activities within the IT environment developed.
The CM process described is not new but the result of
practice in the last two years and the creation of our own
web-based system denominated as COLS in the rest of the
paper.
II. CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT PROCESS IN COLS
A. COLS
COLS is a web-based system to support an Innovation &
Learning Management Methodology. It combines technical
resources with the aim to optimize knowledge management
and collaborative work in projects.
COLS contributes to building and maintaining the
learning base of an organization, where knowledge is
published, giving priority to learning needs of persons in a
creative context of projects. The platform has been designed
as a SaaS-based framework which facilitates the following
attributes: reuse, configuration, multi-user efficiency,
scalability and fast delivery time. A first approach of this
proposal can be found somewhere else [4].
Actually, the platform allows deploying separate
instances for each tenant. Each instance may be configured
to look different and show different characteristics.
CM in COLS has tight relationship with publication,
learning, and project management process. So, CM process
will access the infrastructure configuration data. Correct
Configuration Data can help to identify problems, measure
performance, planning costs, etc.
B. Configuration Management
The main objective of CM is to present a parsimonious
model of the organization’s IT infrastructure and provide
information about the organization performance. This can be
possible by identifying, controlling, maintaining and
verifying the status and versions of Configuration Items (CI)
in the IT environment. In this case, COLS is the IT
environment. Their instances can be treated as separated or
inclusive in COLS.
A CI is a component of the IT environment. They are
from different size, type or complexity. They can range from
full service that consists of hardware, software and
documentation, and a single program module or a minor
hardware component or a simple task that must be complete
[5]. All CI’s are registered, tracked and monitored in the
Platform Databases, which represent the current known
functional and performance status of the IT Environment.
With an extensive understanding of the CI concept, we
have defined in COLS three different elements of CI’s:
infrastructure configuration, environment configuration and
progress (tasks) configuration. See Fig. 1. The first one
includes all kind of CI’s which represent technical changes
in the IT environment. For instance, system updates,
Database modifications, Software libraries installation and so
on. The second group of CI’s is related to the customization
of environments (instances of COLS). It can include artifacts
(applications) and content objects (video, images,
documents, etc. Finally, the configuration progress includes
tasks understood as CI’s. A task has a unique profile and
involves at least one person. It can be monitored and it also
has the capability to affect the others CI’s. Examples of task
are: orders for modifying software, development of a
business plan, interface design mock-ups, writing a paper
and so on.
The progressive implementation of CM in COLS looks to
strength the ability of the organization to:
1. Identify the components that make up an instance
so that vendors understand the possibilities of the
platform.
2. Assess the impact of a change request in the
platform or in an instance.
3. Evaluate the development performance of projects.
4. Supervise student progress.
5. Design its internal workflows for improving the
quality of their e-Services and increase the
satisfaction of clients.
6. Etc.
Figure 1. Configuration Management Packages in COLS.
C. Preparation of Configuration Management in COLS
The CM process begins with the definition of the scope
and depth of the COLS infrastructure that needs to be
covered. In our case we have defined three processes to be
enclosed. The first one would imply to gather, analyze and
present data linked to the configuration of the platform. The
technological design of the platform has been developed
following the Model-View Controller (MVC) design pattern.
See Fig. 2. The aim is to differentiate and to separate data
elements and specific functions of the platform from the
presentation of data in the user interface and business logic.
Figure 2. Technological Design of COLS. Basis for the Infrastructure
Configuration.
More specifically, MVC implementation is represented
as: model (users, environments, artifacts, contents); view
(php pages, and CSS layers implemented in appropriate
formats to interact with users) and controller
(communication between the model and view layers, control
of events and access to contents). From this, three modules
are created: (1) User Module: represents a single module that
manages user data across a centralized platform. (2) Content
Module: represents a single module that manages centrally
the contents of the entire platform. The environments are
interpreted as instances (or communities) that live within the
platform. Artifacts are interpreted as applications (features or
tools) that facilitate the users' tasks of a specific
environment. Both, environments and artifacts are
configured in the Control Module. By now, we haven’t
implemented a tool that facilitates covering evolution in any
of these modules and we still require indentifying the CI’s
managed by this configuration process.
The second process to be covered is related to
environment configuration. In our platform, COLS tenures
several customized environments. Each environment use
instances of artifacts with its own configuration. Artifacts
can be understood as applications (features). This is the case
of a forum manager, a video conference manager, or a blog
manager. Each of these artifacts can be used in one or more
environments at the same time. They also require
configuration. Like in the first process, we also require
identifying the CI’s managed by the configuration of
environments. Some examples of CI’s in this process
includes: the user profile in order to use an artifact, artifacts
used in a specific environment, contents produced by a
specific artifact, etc.
Regarding the third process, it includes assessing tasks
progress. It can be oriented to publishing, learning and
project management activities. In this case the CI’s includes:
the task itself, users involved in the task, contents produced
during the task, time to complete the task, tasks rejected, etc.
For each of the three types of activities identified, we have
designed several procedures which are supported by a
workflow tool (WT). The WT allows us to register data from
the CI’s involved. More detail about the WF tool will be
presented in the forth section.
In conclusion, CM of COLS requires completing the
following steps for each of the process identified:
1. Planning CM (includes purpose, roles, policies,
responsibilities, etc.).
2. Identification of CI’s
3. Monitoring CI’s Behavior (changes, performance,
verification)
4. Building Indicators and Evaluate
III. PROCESS POLICIES, ROLES AND RESPONSABILITIES IN
COLS
Process policies, roles and responsibilities are also very
important aspects to drive the CM process design. The
policies represent agreements for an organization and thus
foster quality in the e-services provided.
Some examples of policies are:
1. The CM process will manage CI’s required in order
to improve quality in the organization and increase
the satisfaction of clients.
2. Databases in COLS represent the source for CM and
thus they represent the current state of the platform.
3. There are different CM processes in COLS:
infrastructure, environment and progress. Each of
them has an owner who is responsible for keeping
information update.
4. All changes in the CM processes must be authorized
by assigned personal.
5. All kind of activities within environments must be
traceable and monitored.
6. Procedures for publishing, learning and project
management activities must be written and approved
by assigned personnel.
7. A procedure is composed of tasks.
8. Implementing procedures helps to assess
performance and to measure quality.
For each of the three configurations processes proposed
in COLS (infrastructure, environment and progress) there are
roles and responsibilities for deploying different kind of
activities. These must be designed.
Nowadays, we have already designed roles and
responsibilities to cover the progress configuration [learning
(Lt), publishing (Pt) and project management (PMt
During the creation of an eService prototype, we have
several users participating in design and development
activities. There is a design manager (D
)].
Besides, a conceptual workflow to manage tasks has been
created. See Table 1.
m) which request to a
graphic designer (Dg) to develop a graphic interface. This
interface must be validated a first time by the Dm. Then, the
technology manager (Tm) reviews it with the aim to evaluate
the proposal since a technical point of view and to be aware
of next orders to implement it. Later, the proposed interface
is approved by the project leader (Pl) and finally it is
published by the Dm. If any step between validation and
accountable is rejected then it begins in the writing step. An
order can be also canceled and modified by the Dm
Because of research (learning and publishing) activities
are part of our R&D organization, users also can play
different profiles (U
.
i, Uj, Uk, Ul, Um
TABLE I. WORKFLOW CONFIGURATION
) from those defined in
project management activities.
Pro-
cedure
Request Writting Validation Review Accept Publish
L U
t U
k U
j --
k -- Uk
P U
t
U
i U
j
U
i
U
l
U
k
i
PM D
t
D
m D
g
T
m
P
m
D
l
m
On the basis of this workflow configuration, a first tool to
systemize the process has been implemented. The next
section presents a brief resume of it.
IV. WORKFLOW TOOL
The workflow (Wf) concept has to do with the
computerized and modeled management of procedures that
should be done with the participation of different
participants. It embraces tasks and interactions under the
form of information exchanging and supports collaborative
process [6]. Wf modeling implies describing accurately those
procedures. In COLS we have modeled a general process
which can support fifteen different procedures. See Fig. 3.
Fig. 4 symbolizes the different profiles a user can have and
the possible actions to be developed during a flow. The use
of workflows also provides information to configuration
management. In our case, Wf’s are implemented for
gathering data linked to progress configuration until now.
Once defined the Wf’s models, we have developed
several interfaces to implement them. The idea is to promote
awareness in relation to project development, learning
progress and publishing management. A first group of five
indicators has been designed under the name of task
progress:
1. My tasks to be solved
2. Tasks to be solved by others and not yet complete
3. All tasks not yet completed
4. All tasks completed
5. Overdue Tasks
Figure 3. Workflow-based General Process.
Figure 4. User’profiles during a workflow.
Fig. 5 represents a quick view of the current state of work
a user has. Users can consult their tasks through this
interface or through a menu in the main interface menu of
COLS.
Figure 5. Custom information about current state of work for each user.
Fig. 6 corresponds to an explicit list of pending tasks a
user has. The user can consult who are involved in the
workflow procedure, the current state of a procedure,
attached documents to support a task, comments about a
task, etc. A green line has been used in the flow to indicate
the exact moment for participation in the procedure. All
tasks are saved in a database which can be consulted for
tracing and monitoring specific configuration items.
Figure 6. List of procedures and tasks in the workflow.
The workflow tool has been used for a year in order to
manage the design and developments of eServices. It has
also been applied to support tutoring and coaching in a PhD
program, and it has been used to manage papers and lectures
publishing.
Until September 2010, more than 400 orders to complete
a procedure have been deployed. More than five thousands
tasks have been completed. These numbers were extracted
directly from the Database. With them we could trace “work
traffic” in the last year, identify demanding projects, work
overload by persons, etc. All this information should be
transformed in CI’s. See Fig. 7.
Figure 7. An example of a graphic constructed on the basis obtained
through the designed workflo tool.
V. LESSON LEARNED
In our case, the implementation of a workflow tool to
support the development of procedures has been very useful
because users involved in the creation of prototypes for
delivering eServices are more awake. The user is conscious
about his role, position and level of responsibility within
work procedures (design and development).
In addition, workflows output has facilitated to build a
repository of ideas and documents which can be consulted
for reviewing past experiences in projects, acquiring
knowledge, etc.
The workflow tool provides important data for planning
and implementing a part of the configuration management in
our platform. In specific we are already working in defining
configuration items which in consequence allow building
metrics capable to be evaluated. As well, we are designing
new graphic interfaces for presenting behavior metrics.
If we achieve to cover with more accurateness the
configuration items in the three processes defined
(infrastructure, environment and progress) then we would
have a better understanding of how they are interconnected
and thus design a better configuration management model
for COLS. More process-supporting technology (tools) will
also be required since the workflow tool just presents a
partial image of current state within the IT environment.
A last reflection, configuration management in
organizations offering eServices can be useful for increasing
productivity, minimizing errors, improving quality and
satisfying users’ needs. It implies to begin building a basis
with accurate process design and modeling of functional and
operative processes. In order to support it, technology is also
required, in specific tools which facilitate gathering,
analyzing and visualizing the evolution in products and
services, but also in the organization behavior.
For R&D centers, the implementation of CM in the
research process can also foster quality by warranting results
and products of research and by ensuring the traceability of
the processes and research activities.
In the future, more research is needed to define ad hoc
models in this domain. We will continue this research in this
direction while we keep developing other topics tight related
to CM. This is the case of content management or knowledge
management.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
We want to particularly thank the company SICTA S.L,
in Barcelona (Spain) for funding research activities
related to the development of COLS.
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A SaaS-based framework to support the management and deploy of web applications for exchanging information and sharing knowledge Change and Configuration Management Database
  • Y Rivero
  • M Sampieri
  • M Ferruzca
  • J Fernández
  • J Monguet
  • B Blanco
Y. Rivero, M. Sampieri, M. Ferruzca, J. Fernández, J. Monguet, B. Blanco, " A SaaS-based framework to support the management and deploy of web applications for exchanging information and sharing knowledge " Proc. Conference on Engineering and Meta-Engineering (ICEME'10), March. 2010., in press. [5] IBM, " Change and Configuration Management Database ", http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/tivihelp/v10r1/in dex.jsp?topic=/com.ibm.ccmdb.doc/cm/c_cm_ci.html
A SaaS-based framework to support the management and deploy of web applications for exchanging information and sharing knowledge
  • Y Rivero
  • M Sampieri
  • M Ferruzca
  • J Fernández
  • J Monguet
  • B Blanco
Y. Rivero, M. Sampieri, M. Ferruzca, J. Fernández, J. Monguet, B. Blanco, "A SaaS-based framework to support the management and deploy of web applications for exchanging information and sharing knowledge" Proc. Conference on Engineering and Meta-Engineering (ICEME'10), March. 2010., in press.