May
26

Speed, Complexity and Change - Facing the Pitfalls of Configuration Management



   
 

When it comes to making IT processes and tasks more efficient and effective, accurate and accessible configuration information is a key component for making IT management a lot easier and more reliable. 

Having dependable configuration data enables:

  • Quicker assessment of changes in infrastructure reducing service outages
  • Faster troubleshooting
  • Easier compliance auditing
  • Better analysis of resource allocation

Today's IT: The Endless Struggle

In IT today, their daily 'to do' list is growing longer, while the information they require for the completion of these tasks is changing nearly at the blink of an eye. The golden days when application architecture was simple, service level contracts were based on the availability of just a few servers, applications had sets of predefined updates which were easily testable and software upgrades occurred at most on a quarterly basis, are gone.  

Making this issue even more severe, according to a recent report by Gartner, the pain is growing and through 2015, 40% of outages will be caused by configuration, release and change problems.

Configuration Management Challenge: Staying in the Know

Today's business objectives mean that having a healthy IT environment is not a good idea but an uncompromising requirement, making the role of IT administrators both critical and stressful. When IT rolls out system updates or deploys upgrade patches, now happening daily or weekly,  the configuration parameters must be validated for consistency in real-time. 

IT Environments Stability Requires Visibility and Automation

Maintaining high level performance and stability of IT environments requires visibility into both how technologies are interacting and more importantly how configuration changes affect the infrastructure and interdependencies. Without this understanding,  IT organization risks not complying with service level contracts or jeopardizing how quickly a problem can be investigated before becoming a potentially devastating incident. 
Now to complete daily task list of IT management doesn't mean throwing more manpower and resources at this effort, but reducing the effort required for collecting and analyzing the configuration information required by IT administrators.

Knowing the Impact of Changes in Configuration Data 

Dynamic provisioning and virtualization have transformed the underlying infrastructure into an ocean of moving parts. As the modern data center expands with mega data structures and populating systems with an overwhelming amount of configuration data, failure to manage changes in configuration data becomes increasingly more common. Changes to configuration data occurs too quickly and too often to properly evaluate the impact. For a solution to be effective, changes must be monitored and the accuracy of configuration data must be maintained.

When IT personnel make individual, unplanned changes, these ad hoc actions may never be recorded by an configuration management database. Expected settings quickly drift away from reality - leaving incomplete or wrong picture of configuration data, undermining the IT team's ability to make clear decisions when performance slows or worse – a problem arises. 

Existing Solutions Don't Meet the Challenge

CMDB and configuration management tools are just too rigid to handle today's dynamics. Also they don't provide visibility at the most granular level – where the root-cause of downtime and incidents start. Furthermore, they lack the detailed analytics required to translate abundant configuration data into actionable information for IT Operations. 

Survey Agrees: Current Configuration Management Approaches Ineffective

A recent survey, conducted by Evolven during a webinar with Forrester Research, revealed that IT professionals are dissatisfied with their current configuration management approaches.  

CIOs, IT Directors, Configuration Managers, Release Managers, System Operation Architects, and Change Managers from numerous Global 2000 organizations took part in this survey, where they were asked if their existing configuration management approaches were sufficient for facing the new challenges of the modern data center.

Nearly 70% of the participants responded negatively:- 35% felt they needed an entirely new approach,- 24% claimed their approach needed major improvements - 10% said their current approach was 'painful to implement'- Only 31% of participants stated their current approaches as 'effective' but admitted there were 'still a few bumps in the road'. 

Successful Configuration Management for the Modern Data Center

configuration management solutions need to be easily accessible and provide value quickly. Most IT professionals are too stressed to sift through reams of incoming data, let alone pinpoint criticality. For the IT department to successfully adopt a configuration management solution, it needs to both easily integrate into current mode of work, and provide them answers to quickly confront stability issues. 

Out of the constantly changing, overwhelming configuration data, today's IT operations management needs tools that can collect a tremendous amount of configuration information, then centralize it for review and intelligently analyze it to deliver actionable information. Handling the abundance of data in an IT environment requires a broad and deep sweep, down to a fine level of detail.  

Times Have Changed. Keeping up with Change and Complexity

The IT landscape has grown in complexity supporting a wider and growing range of technologies and platforms (Virtualization, Cloud, Open Source etc.), and accelerated application deployment and software deployment schedules. Driving high-paced change to meet business requirements while staying in control of critical business services has turned into a major challenge. There is no doubt that IT today is strained more than ever while also critical to the success of today's business activities.   Maintaining stability in today's IT environment is threatened by how configuration data in the environment is handled.  IT staff is now expected to be able to stay on top of  a  huge collection of configuration information that is constantly accumulating, and consider how changes can impact the environment, while taking into account the  business implications. 

IT Operations Requires a New Approach

IT Operations requires a new approach and needs to redefine configuration management for the modern data center. Evolven's groundbreaking Configuration Analytics solution takes on the dynamics and complexity of the modern data center and cloud, in a way that was never available before. IT Operations and Infrastructure teams use Evolven to validate changes and releases to prevent downtime,  monitor and detect configuration drift to avert incidents,  investigate and identify incident root-cause to cut mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) , and  audit any changes made to improve processes and meet compliance requirements.

Find out More

Learn how Evolven's groundbreaking Configuration Analytics solution takes on the dynamics and complexity of the modern data center and cloud, in a way that was never available before.
See an introduction video and become acquainted with the features of this solution


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Written by Martin Perlin.

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