Top 8 Configuration Management Tools
Microsoft Endpoint Configuration ManagerRed Hat Ansible Automation PlatformQuest KACE Systems ManagementBigFixvCenter Configuration ManagerHashiCorp TerraformSaltStackRed Hat Satellite
We have found the scalability to be quite good.
It is a very well-rounded product. It is a complete package with all the features using which we are able to manage our PCs very efficiently.
Being a game-changer in configuration management software is what has made Ansible so popular and widespread. Much of IT is based on SSH direct connectivity with a need for running infrastructure in an agentless way, and that has been a big plus. SSH has become a great security standard for managing servers. The whole thing has really become an out-of-the-box solution for managing a Unix estate.
There is one place for a lot of different things. If somebody has a problem with their computer, they will put in a ticket. From there, we will know who it is and the assets assigned to them, because there is one place to go look for what we are talking about and with whom we are talking. Just having one place for everything is really convenient. For example, we are able to deploy software to hundreds of computers. We don't need to go to each individual device.
The most valuable feature of BigFix is the reporting tool and patching Windows.
BigFix is easy to use.
The stability and reliability are great.
This is the best solution for management for the server administrator. VMware has been on the market for many years, so they have a lot of solutions. For on-premises, VMware is the best available solution.
This solution is a fast and secure way to provision infrastructure.
The solution allows us to work faster with ease and to set up new environments and workspaces.
SaltStack has given us the ability to deal with systems at scale and rectify issues at scale.
I want to build automation that is intelligent, part of the fabric of our environment, and is somewhat self-sustaining. I think SaltStack can help me do this.
Patch management is, for sure, most valuable. For license management and patch management, I would rate it a 10 out of 10.
Technical support has been good.
Why is configuration management important?
System misconfiguration may cause a broad array of issues, such as inconsistencies, non-compliance, and poor performance. This affects operations and leaves security gaps that attackers may exploit. By managing the configurations, you ensure that no change can go undocumented.
Software systems consist of an array of components that are different and complex. Each component has its own configuration metadata. Because of the dynamic nature of software environments, every time you add an endpoint, change a password, or add a new hardware resource, there is a change in the configuration. If these updates are not centralized, the configuration can become chaotic.
Another challenge is the different versions of configuration values. If they are not managed, you may end up not knowing which one is the approved current version of the configuration.
Manually monitoring systems, identifying misconfiguration, choosing the remediation steps, and validating changes and versions is time-consuming and complex. But if you don’t keep configuration changes under control, you can end up not knowing which software has been updated, what are the latest changes, etc.
With a configuration management tool, you define the systems settings and then the software constantly monitors and maintains the systems according to those settings. Therefore, you can know the state of your system’s applications at any given moment.
What is the role of configuration management in DevOps?
Configuration management (CM) has a critical role in DevOps environments because it helps developers to automate otherwise time-consuming tasks and to increase agility. While configuration management strictly refers to automating, managing, and maintaining configurations at the desired state, most CM tools will also manage system changes by redefining configurations to meet needs.
Configuration data has always been a difficult task to handle, and in the early days of application development it was conducted manually. The arrival of DevOps brought the automation of configuration management in the form of software tools that can monitor, manage, and maintain a system. Automated solutions enable software engineers to act quickly when the software detects a bottleneck or other misconfiguration. It also enables them to manage and provision resources.
Configuration management is also applied to Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD) environments. The software uses pull request-based code review to automate the deployment of code changes live. It also helps developers to automate configuration change requests so they can be immediately deployed to a running system.
Agile teams use configuration management tools to simplify tasks like updating SSL certificates, changing passwords, and adding API keys for third-party integrations.
There are three configuration management functions that specifically support DevOps processes:
- Identification: The process of searching for, detecting, and identifying system-wide configuration needs and issues.
- Control: This function enables the management of changes in configurations in a way that doesn’t disrupt operations and integrations.
- Auditing and reporting: Most solutions offer configuration audits, which is a review of existing systems in terms of meeting compliance regulations.
Configuration Management Software Features
Configuration management tools help to keep computer systems consistent and stable by managing changes and updates. These tools also monitor and identify potential configuration issues and needs so that IT personnel can apply the necessary remedy or update as soon as possible.
There is an array of configuration tools available in the market, each with its own unique offerings. Still there are common features you should look for when choosing a configuration management tool:
- Enforcement: This means monitoring and ensuring that the system is configured to the desired state. By doing so, configuration management tools can prevent mistakes and confusion.
- Version control: This is the best way to ensure everybody is on the same page and knows which one is the approved current version. It fosters collaboration, plus you can also go back and check out the previous configuration version.
- Enables change control processes: This feature enables the treatment of changes as code, which means they will have timestamps and can be subject to review/approval. This gives you a trail that you can use to reconstruct incidents. It also enables you to control the frequency at which you submit changes in the infrastructure.
- Enables collaboration: The best CM tools will centralize the configuration so it can be updated across the infrastructure with a single change. This enables teams to collaborate more efficiently.
- System-agnostic: Most companies now work in multiple environments. A configuration management tool that is system-agnostic means the same configuration file can be used to manage an installation in two different systems.
Configuration Management Benefits
By keeping the system under control and fixing issues as they come, you can prevent more expensive repairs in the future. Implementing configuration management helps organizations to detect and fix issues before they become a bigger problem.
For instance, misalignment between test and production environments. A configuration management tool enables you to replicate the same configurations and software in a second environment so you don’t have alignment problems.
Automating configuration management via a software tool not only saves time but also prevents human errors resulting from the manual configuration.
It also facilitates scalability, since you can provision a new server in minutes without having to do custom scripting and without the risk of making costly mistakes. Your configuration management tool can take care of maintaining the server in the desired state according to the settings you defined.