Applied Cosmology: Machian Dynamics in Configuration Management

Julian Barbour wrote the book titled “The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics” [http://www.platonia.com/ideas.html]. He explains how our failure to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory is because of our ill-conceived preoccupation with time as a necessary component of such a theory. A proper description of reality is composed of the relationships between real things, not a description with respect to an imaginary background (space and time). Therefore, all you have is a configuration of things, which undergoes a change in arrangement. The path through this configuration-space is what we perceive as the flow of time.

We apply this very model of the universe in configuration management.

Software release management is a configuration management problem, where the things in configuration-space are source files. A path through configuration space captures the versions of these source files relative to each other as releases of software are built. Our notion of time is with respect to these software releases.

Enterprise resource management in the communications industry involves many configuration management problems in various domains. We normally refer to such applications as Operations Support Systems.

In network resource management, the configuration-space includes devices and other resources in the network, their connectivity, and the metadata (what is normally called a “device configuration” which needs to be avoided in the context of this discussion for obvious reasons) associated with that connectivity arrangement.

In service resource management, the configuration-space includes services, their resource allocations, and the subscription metadata (what is normally called a “service configuration” which needs to be avoided in the context of this discussion for obvious reasons) or “design”.

We develop such applications using a notion of configuration-space, because such systems cannot operate in a world that is limited to its dependence on a background of space and time. We need to be able to travel backward and forward in time arbitrarily to see how the world looked in the past from the perspective of a particular transaction. We need to be able to hypothesize many possible futures, perhaps only one of which is brought into reality through a rigorous process of analysis, design, planning, procurement, construction, and project management. Reality is always from the perspective of the observer, and one’s frame of reference is always somewhere on the path in configuration-space.

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