Top 10 Configuration Management Tools

Configuration Management Tools

DevOps is now a mainstream IT movement that has grown from a fringe movement to an essential tool for IT leaders. Although there is a lot to be excited about, there are also many practical skills. provisioning environments, deploying applications, and maintaining infrastructures–these are all critical yet delicate tasks traditionally done by hand. Imagine if we could have a machine do this stuff for us. Not only would it save hours but it also eliminates the possibility of human error.

What is Configuration Management?

Configuration Management tools allow you to use proven software development techniques for provisioning and managing data centers in real-time through plaintext definition files. Some people mistakenly refer to CM solutions as “DevOps in a Box.” DevOps involves collaboration between people. CM tools, on the other hand, are tools that automate the application of configuration state. They are like any other tool, designed to solve specific problems in particular ways. The knowledge and abilities of the person using them will determine how effective they are at solving problems.

It’s easy to see a brief overview of each tool and compare it with other options so that you can choose the right configuration management tool for you.

Benefits and the Risks

Automating changes in your infrastructure’s configuration state can be a double-edged weapon: while you can make quick changes, someone or something needs to validate them. In considering which configuration management tool to select, you should also think about which complementary tool(s) you will use to avoid the costly effects of automating the deployment of bugs in your infrastructure-as-code. Software configuration management tools, or SCM tools, are both version control and textual friendly. You can make changes to the code and submit it for review.

With configuration management tools, many of the operating-system-specific implementations of configuration are abstracted to you. You can use the same configuration file to manage Apache HTTPD installation on Red Hat and Ubuntu systems.

Poor configuration can pose a huge cybersecurity risk and lead to data breaches and other attacks. You must consider cyber security, information security, and information risk management when automating your infrastructure.

Also, you should consider how secure your configuration management tools are and whether they have access to sensitive information. You should think about vendor risk management, have a third-party risk management framework and conduct a cyber security assessment.

Also read: 10 Best Change Management Tools

Top 10 Configuration Management Tools

1. CFEngine

CFEngine is an older open-source configuration management tool that allows automation configuration of large computer systems, including the unified management servers, systems, users, embedded networked devices, mobile devices, as well as other features. It is similar to Puppet technology, which is also an established technology.

“CFEngine runs on C as opposed to Puppet using Ruby. C is the lower-level language, and one of the biggest complaints about CFEngine is its steep learning curve. This does not mean that CFEngine takes up a lot less memory, runs faster, and has fewer dependencies.

2. Puppet

The Puppet annual “State of DevOps” report is a great resource for finding trends in DevOps. Operational professionals are increasingly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Puppet platform. Puppet uses Ruby or a declarative language to describe its system configuration. It is divided into modules and the manifest files contain the desired state goals.

“It is often stated that Puppet was designed with sysadmins and is therefore a useful tool. Puppet is primarily model-driven, so the learning curve for Puppet is much less daunting. For sysadmins who have spent their entire life on the command line, it is much easier to grasp JSON data structures in Puppet’s manifests than Ruby’s syntax.

Puppet Enterprise costs only $10 per node, and the open-source edition of Puppet can be downloaded for free. Once Puppet has been installed, each node (physical, virtual, or device) will have a Puppet agent.

3. Chef

Chef is the other heavyweight in the CM /automation platform market, after Puppet. It can manage servers on-premises or in the cloud. Cloud-agnostic allows you to manage both your data center and cloud environments simultaneously, even while changing cloud providers.

“Like Puppet Chef is also written using Ruby and its CLI uses a Ruby-based DSL. Chef uses a master-agent model. A Chef installation requires a workstation in order to control the master server. You can install the agents from your workstation by using the “knife” tool, which uses SSH to deploy. This reduces the installation burden.

4. Ansible

Ansible is the best open-source tool for configuration management, deployment, and orchestration. It also has an automation engine. It’s even included in Fedora, a popular Linux distro. It automates IT infrastructure, from software provisioning and configuration management to application installation. This can provide large productivity improvements.

Their current offerings include Ansible (the platform’s UI) or Ansible Tower, which includes the platform’s management system and dashboard. It’s a relatively new player in this arena, compared to other competitors like Chef and Puppet. However, it has a very positive reputation among DevOps professionals because of its simple operations and management capabilities. ”

Ansible is a favorite tool of ours. Ansible can be used to execute the exact same command on multiple servers using the command line. It can be used to automate tasks such as adding users, updating server configurations, or installing packages. Ansible is easy to use, non-programmer friendly, and simple to understand for both programmers and nonprogrammers.

There is less overhead for your servers if there are no agents. Push mode requires an SSH connection (the default), but pull mode can be used as needed. Playbooks can be created with very few commands or scaled up with more complex automation tasks such as roles, variables, and modules.

5. SaltStack

The chief purveyor of the “infrastructure-as-code” ideal, SaltStack has gained a sizable following despite making a relatively late appearance on the market due to its many integrations with cloud providers like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), etc

“Salt is developed in Python, just like Ansible. It was also created in response to the dissatisfaction with the Puppet/Chef hegemony, particularly their slow deployment speed and restriction on Ruby users. Salt is a compromise between Puppet/ Chef and Ansible. It supports Python but requires users to use the PyDSL DSL or Python for all CLI commands. It works with a master server, deployed agents, or minions, to communicate with the target servers. However, it implements ZeroMq messaging at the transport layer which is a few orders faster than Chef/ Puppet.

6. Docker

Docker was launched in 2013. It is relatively new and has taken the DevOps and software development world by storm. Docker’s lightweight containerization technology is the key to its success.

Their technology allows software applications to be deployed in containers that contain all of the required parts. This ensures that they will run on any Linux server regardless of configuration or settings. Containers can be saved as templates to be used on other hosts that run the Docker engine. These templates can be used to create additional containers with the same OS configuration, binaries, and configuration. ”

Also read: Hardware as a Service: What Is HaaS, Advantages and Challenges

7. PowerShell DSC

Microsoft’s solution to CM is PowerShell DSC, which is not easily outdone by open-source technologies.

“DSC” is a new Windows PowerShell management platform that allows you to deploy and manage configuration data for software services, and manage the environment in which they run.
DSC offers a range of Windows PowerShell language extensions and new Windows PowerShell cmdlets that allow you to specify declaratively how you want your software environment configured. You can also manage and maintain existing configurations. ”

8. TeamCity Configuration tool

Jet Brains also developed TeamCity, a continuous integration and management server based on Java Programming Language.

9. JUJU Configuration tool

Juju is an open-source tool that focuses on reducing the operational overhead of new software. Juju offers features like configuring, scaling, quick deployment, integration, etc. JUJU does not provide clear instructions for using the OpenStack cloud provider.

10. Rudder

Rudder is an open-source IT infrastructure management software that runs on top of CFEngine. Rudder’s asset-management function can identify nodes and their characteristics. This is useful for performing configuration management actions. This CMT uses asset management to identify configuration management nodes.

Rudder relies on a local agent that is installed on every managed system. Rudder’s web interface on the server side is created using Scala language, while its local agent is written with C language.

Plan for Success

No matter what tool you use to manage configurations, the best way to get started with your automation project is to find what you already have. Automation of poorly understood processes and infrastructure can be a cost-intensive way to solve your problems quickly. You must first understand the terrain to get the best out of automation tools.

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