Version Control & Software Configuration Management (SCM) Software

Version Control & Software Configuration Management (SCM) Software

The world of technology has undergone tremendous transformations in the past decade, initiating the digital transition of businesses worldwide, enabling them to keep up with the changing business dynamics and customer expectations. Among the various technologies that made this transition possible is DevOps. DevOps helped organizations succeed with digital transformation by shifting their cultural mindset, breaking down detrimental silos, and paving the way for continuous change and rapid experimentation.

However, for DevOps to ensure this successful transformation, it relies on various tools and best practices such as Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery, Automation, Microservices, and more. Version Control and Software Configuration Management are two of these best practices that play a critical role in the DevOps development life cycle. 

This article will highlight the various software and tools used by these two methodologies to help organizations perform rapid and consistent application development and delivery.

Software Configuration Management (SCM): 

Performed when the configuration platform is used to automate, monitor, design, and manage manual configuration processes, Software Configuration Management is an integral part of DevOps. It automates tedious tasks, allowing teams to focus on critical tasks and programming. Moreover, it helps organizations increase agility and prevent system outages, data breaches, and leaks.

Used alongside CI/CD infrastructure and version control, Software Configuration Management is an effective system engineering process that establishes and maintains the consistency of software performance, functionality, and physical attributes. Furthermore, it uses automation to build in checks and track redundancies, which helps maintain computer systems, servers, and software in a desired, consistent state.

The Best Software Configuration Management Tools/Software:

To achieve the desired and consistent results, software configuration management relies on excessive automation because of which teams use various configuration management tools like:

  • CFEngine: CFEngine is a configuration management tool that offers features like process management, task management, patch management, and more and allows teams to manage mission-critical tasks securely. Available as both open-source and commercial software, it provides automation configuration for huge computer systems, including the unified management of servers, users, embedded networked devices, and more. Some of its prominent features include:
    • Defines the desired state and configuration of IT infrastructure.
    • Uses autonomous agents that run on every node of the infrastructure.
    • Automates roll out updates and changes to every node in the infrastructure.
    • It is highly scalable and secure. 
    • Suitable for heavy computer systems, servers, embedded network systems, etc. 
    • Manages and provisions software deployment.
  • Desktop Central: A web-based windows desktop administration software, ManageEngine Desktop Central helps administrators manage applications, system settings, desktop settings, and security policies. It offers traditional IT management and Modern management features in a single console and also supports endpoint security add-on. With the help of this tool, teams can deploy groups of configurations all at once using the collection feature.
    • Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux Operating Systems.
    • Web-based user interface.
    • Performs automated vulnerability assessment and patch deployment.
    • Offers over 100 ready-made custom script templates and 30 predefined configurations, ready to be deployed anytime.
    • Provides computer-based and user-based configurations.
    • Provides the status of the applied configurations.
  • Server Configuration Monitor: Server Configuration Monitor is an easy-to-use tool by SolarWinds, designed to track unauthorized system and application changes in the systems environment. The tool helps you detect and compare configuration changes to the server, applications, and databases and allows you to configure applications and servers in real-time. Its common benefits are: 
    • Improve visibility & team accountability. 
    • Decrease the troubleshooting time.
    • Baselines server and application configurations on Windows and Linux.
    • Offers enhanced change auditing capabilities by monitoring the script outputs.
    • It can be integrated with the Orion platform.
    • Offers alerts and reports on deviations. 
  • Puppet: One of the best open-source, configuration management tools, Puppet, is used to deploy, configure, and manage servers. It has a master-slave architecture for centralizing and automating the configuration management process. This model-driven solution requires limited programming knowledge to use and includes its own declarative language to describe system configuration.
    • Manage infrastructure as code, using suitable version control systems.
    • Automates provisioning across your IT infrastructure.
    • Offers full control and visibility over your software delivery process.
    • Real-time reporting and compliance.
    • Get continuous enterprise support.
    • Event inspection and orchestration.
  • CHEF: An open-source, automation platform for configuring and managing infrastructure, Chef, like Puppet uses a master-slave architecture. It automates infrastructure management and provisioning to reduce manual and repetitive tasks. It is developed based on Ruby DSL language and can integrate with any of the cloud technology.  
    • Uses Ruby language to create a domain-specific language.
    • Ideal for deploying and managing the cloud server, storage, and software.
    • Increases service resiliency to develop more defect-free software.
    • Follows the Push model and offers easy cloud adoption.
    • Can configure various cloud-based SaaS services.
    • Integrates cloud provisioning APIs and third-party software.
  • Ansible: Another popular open-source configuration management, deployment, orchestration tool, Ansible, is written in Python and uses YAML for configuration tasks. It is designed to be minimal in nature, consistent, secure, and highly reliable. With the help of this tool, teams can avoid performing repetitive tasks and focus their efforts on more strategic work. This push-based configuration tool helps automate the entire IT infrastructure by providing large productivity gains. Some of its other benefits are:
    • Uses SSH for secure connections.
    • Requires minimal learning. 
    • As it is agentless, it does not require agent installation and management.
    • Offers integrated notifications to inform about automation status.
    • Allows you to run simple tasks on any host or group of hosts in your inventor.
    • Helps easily model complex processes.
  • SaltStack: A robust and flexible configuration management framework, SaltStack is used to create a reusable configuration template, called a state. It works on a master-client setup model or a non-centralized model and provides push and SSH methods to communicate with clients. Based on Python programming language, allows teams to group together clients and configuration templates to take control of the environment simple and easy.
    • An open-source configuration management software and remote execution engine.
    • Integrates with various cloud providers like Google Cloud, Amazon web services, etc.
    • Simple and easy to use, with DSL features.
    • Uses the infrastructure as a code approach to managing network deployment, vulnerability, and configuration automation.
    • Offers fault tolerance.
    • Can handle ten thousand minions per master.
  • Juju: An open-source, configuration management tool by Canonical Ltd., Juju helps reduce the operational overhead of newer generation applications and software. It configures, integrates, scales, and quickly deploys cloud applications on OpenStack, public cloud platforms, containers, and physical servers.
    • Supplies Transport Layer Security (TLS) between nodes.
    • Provides controller, dashboard, DNS, and multi-node deployment. 
    • Feature for Kubernetes cluster deployment.
    • Offers software provisioning capabilities.
    • Resolves complexities regarding service scaling by using charm.
    • Can be used to run multiple PaaS on a platform.
  • Rudder: This is another prominent and most used open-source, web-driven, role-based solutions, configurations, and audit management tool that automates system configuration across huge IT organizations and compliance. It satisfies the need for production infrastructure by automating and maintaining your production infrastructure. Moreover, its clear and intuitive web interface makes it easy to manage and organize all configuration items.
    • Offers web interface features to manage the nodes and define policies of your environment.
    • Offers FULL REST API to communicate with Rudder Server.
    • Can be used to generate host policies dynamically.
    • Automates simple tasks of administration like installing or configuring.
    • It has GIT in its backend.
    • Provides a custom policy editor, which is very unique.
  • TeamCity: An open-source and free configuration management tool developed by Jet Brain, TeamCity is a management and continuous integration server based on Java Programming Language. It provides up to 100 build configurations (jobs) and runs unlimited builds. It is a commercial tool, licensed under a proprietary license, that provides several ways to reuse the settings of the parent project to the subproject. Its beneficial features include:
    • Monitors multiple branches with different build processes for each.
    • Helps detect builds that are hung.
    • Offers extensibility and customization.
    • Comprehensive VCS integration.
    • On-the-fly build progress reporting.
    • Supports build history and Cloud integration.
  • Version Control:

    A component of Software Configuration Management, Version Control is another critical aspect of DevOps that helps build reliable software applications. Also known as Source Control, version control is the process for tracking and managing software code changes using numerous software tools. These tools automate tasks to help software teams work faster and smarter, reduce development time, and increase successful deployments. 

    Version control keeps track of every modification to the code by each contributor, preventing concurrent work from conflicting. This allows the team to effectively manage changes to computer programs, documents, large websites, or information.

    The Best Version Control Tools & Software:

    Like software configuration management, Version control involves a variety of tools that help simplify the code management, such as:

    • Git: One of the most prominent Version Control tools available in the market, Git is a free, open-source, cross-platform distributed version control tool that provides strong support for non-linear development. It efficiently handles everything from small to large-scale projects, with speed and efficiency. Its features include:
      • Distributed repository model.
      • Compatible with existing systems and protocols like HTTP, FTP, etc.
      • Cryptographic authentication of history.
      • Pluggable merge strategies.
      • Toolkit-based design.
      • Easily tracks code changes.
    • CVS: Another free and open-source version control tool, CVS is the oldest version control system that remains the tool of choice for developers. It helps teams check the code they are planning to work on and check-in changes. Its prominent features are:
      • Matured technology with cross-platform support.
      • Robust and fully-featured powerful command-line.
      • Client-server repository model.
      • Keeps a historical snapshot of the project.
      • Anonymous read access. 
      • Upholds different branches of a project.
    • Perforce Helix Core: A client-server and distributed revision control tool, Helic Core is developed by Perforce Software Inc. Designed with a single platform for seamless team collaboration, it supports both centralized and distributed development workflows. Suitable for large-scale development environments, Helix Core supports Unix-like, Windows, and OS X platforms.
      • Supports all file types and sizes. 
      • It is DevOps ready. 
      • Offers flexible branching. 
      • Maintains a single source of truth. 
      • Performs file-level asset management. 
      • Tracks code changes accurately, facilitating a complete Git ecosystem.
    • Beanstalk: A hassle-free, hosted solution for managing deployment and hosting codes, Beanstalk is a simple version control software that helps teams create smart software applications. It is an ideal tool for individuals that work from remote places, as it leverages encryption, two-factor authentication, and password protection functionalities to ensure maximum security. 
      • Offers subversion (SVN) and Git hosting.
      • In-browser code editing.
      • Code review tools.
      • Automatic & manual deployments.
      • Secure, redundant infrastructure.
      • Streamlines code review management process.
    • SVN: Apache Subversion (SVN) is an open-source and free version control tool, created to overcome the issues of CVS. Founded by CollabNet, SVN employs the concept of atomic operations to prevent data corruption. It is easy to set up and administer and offers benefits of GUI tools like TortoiseSVN.
      • Supports empty directories.
      • Integrates well with Windows, leading IDE and Agile tools.
      • Offers inventory, workflow, and security management.
      • Client-server repository model. 
      • Space efficient binary diff storage.
      • Directories are versioned.
    • Monotone: A free and open-source tool for distributed revision control, Monotone is written in C++ and supports Unix, Linux, BSD, Mac OS X, and Windows. It is an easy-to-learn tool that provides a simple, single-file transactional version store, with a fully disconnected operation and an efficient peer-to-peer synchronization protocol. Other features that make this tool popular are:
      • Supports internationalization and localization.
      • It's focused on integrity rather than performance. 
      • Can import CVS projects. 
      • Uses an efficient and robust custom protocol called netsync.
      • Requires very low maintenance.
      • Stable GUI and portable design.
    • Bazaar: Bazaar is a free and open-source version control tool based on a distributed and client-server repository model. Considered to be the most versatile version control tool, Bazaar supports various forms of workflows like centralized and decentralized and provides a user-friendly experience.
      • Powerful and cross-platform.
      • Written in Python 2, Pyrex, and C.
      • Provides free hosting services through Launchpad and Sourceforge.
      • High storage efficiency and speed.
      • Offers an easy-to-use plugin system.
      • Supports directories tracking.
    • Mercurial: A free, open-source, and distributed source control management tool, Mercurial provides a simple and intuitive user interface. Written in Python, it is well known for its efficiency in handling projects of all sizes. Mercurial is intended for software developers and is supported on Microsoft Windows and Unix-like systems, such as FreeBSD, macOS, and Linux. 
      • A fast and powerful tool known for high performance and scalability.
      • Easy to learn. 
      • Lightweight and portable. 
      • Fully distributed collaborative development.
      • Handles both plain text and binary files robustly.
      • Offers advanced branching and merging capabilities.
    • IBM Rational ClearCase: A client-server repository model based on software configuration management tool, IBM Rational ClearCare is a leader in enterprise version control management. Designed to improve collaboration and automation, it offers sophisticated workspace management, parallel development support, and build auditing to help improve productivity. Moreover, it supports various operating systems including AIX,  Windows, z/OS (limited client), HP-UX, Linux, Linux on z Systems, Solaris.
      • Supports two models i.e UCM and base ClearCase.
      • Integrates with Visual Studio.
      • Handles parallel development.
      • Allows branching, labeling, and versioning of directories.
      • Handles huge binary files of big repository sizes.
      • Applies SCM best practices.
    • TFS: Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a version control product by Microsoft that covers the entire application lifecycle source code management, project management, reporting, automated builds, testing, release management, and requirement management. Based on the client-server, distributed repository model, it enables DevOps capabilities and provides Windows, cross-platform OS support through Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS).
      • Available in two different forms, online and on-premises.
      • Allows continuous integration, the team builds, and unit test integration.
      • Can be used as a backend for several IDEs.
      • Supports branching and merging operations.
      • Offers custom check-in policies for steady and stable implementation of the codebase in your source control.
    • Conclusion:

      Software Configuration Management and Version Control are two important processes for automating and managing software components. These two DevOps methodologies help build a reliable software product with faster time-to-market by enabling teams to focus on critical and more complex tasks that cannot be automated or require manual attention. 

      Incorporate Version Control and Software Configuration Management tools into the DevOps development lifecycle for agile and quality software development and delivery.