Configuration Management Solutions facilitate the automation and control of configurations and settings across IT environments. They are used to ensure that systems are consistently maintained and set up to operate as we’d expect them to. Configuration Management Solutions not only track and record changes to the IT landscape, but also help to automatically ensure that current system configurations match predefined templates or ‘desired states’. This ensures operational reliability, reduces the potential for human-induced errors, and streamlines deployment and scaling efforts.
Given the complexities of modern IT operations, especially with the advent of cloud computing, containerization, and infrastructure-as-code paradigms, the need for robust configuration management solutions is greater than ever. These platforms often integrate with continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, offer compliance auditing capabilities, and provide detailed logging and reporting for accountability and troubleshooting.
The market for Configuration Management Solutions is rich and varied, with tools catering for organizations of different sizes, complexities, and work practices. Effective configuration management solutions prioritize ease of use, scalability, and have strong security and compliance capabilities. In this guide, we will explore the top Configuration Management solutions, with information on each product, its features, and use cases.
Everything You Need To Know About Configuration Management Solutions (FAQs)
What Are Configuration Management Solutions?
Configuration management refers to the process of maintaining computer systems, applications, servers, network devices, and other IT components to ensure they remain in a desired state with the desired settings. This helps to ensure that the system can perform as expected, meaning you don’t have to manually monitor or adjust settings and configurations.
Using a configuration management solution allows administrators to set up IT systems (such as servers or workstations), then rollout the same settings other assets across an organization. IT teams can make use of configuration assessments and drift analyses to continually identify systems that are no longer adhering to the desired settings. From here, updates can be made to reconfigure and patch the configuration, thereby restoring functionality.
How Do Configuration Management Solutions Work?
IT teams are tasked with managing a wide array of applications and systems within enterprise environments; this may include clouds, networks, servers, storage, and edge devises. It is important to make sure that any misconfigurations can be quickly identified and rectified. The introduction of minor inconsistencies or misconfiguration errors within IT systems can result in configuration drift and, eventually, to unfocused systems that lacking security, compliance adherence, and efficiency.
To avoid this, configuration management solutions define and log the configuration of your assets, acting as a source of truth to identify if and when configuration drifts.
What Features Should You Look For In A Configuration Management Solution?
The features offered by configuration management solutions may differ depending on the vendor and the operational environment that they have been designed for. Typically, most solutions will be geared towards the goal of allowing organizations to effectively manage and control their IT infrastructure configurations. Key features offered by these solutions may include:
- Information Gathering. This is a vital first step for configuration management and involves aggregating and compiling configuration data. Solutions will often provide automated discovery of hardware, software, and network devices to gather a centralized inventory of assets and understand their configurations.
- Baseline Configuration. Once configuration data is properly organized, it is important to establish a baseline which can be used as a reference point. A baseline configuration is a known state of configuration that should be maintained.
- Change Management. This refers to the workflows used for submitting, approving, and implementing configuration changes. Just as it is important to have an established baseline, it is also vital to continually audit and log changes that are made for version control. This means tracking and logging configurations and changes, as well as tracking who made the change, when.
- Monitoring And Compliance. A good configuration management solution should be capable of supporting your organization in maintaining compliance standards. Capabilities such as continuous monitoring of configuration states and settings, the ability to compare configurations against previously established baselines, as well as notifications and alerts can assist with this.
- Security And Access Control. Role-based access controls are useful for managing permissions for users and ensuring that only those who require access are granted it. This leaves less room for breaches to occur. Integration with identity and access management systems and the encryption tools can also be beneficial.