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New Reality for Change and Configuration Management


New Reality for Change and Configuration Management


Configuration ManagementChange management is meant to track and document even the most fine alterations in systems, allowing an IT staff to accurately find, follow and fix any part of the infrastructure. Yet a new reality with a breakneck pace of changes, makes today's change and configuration management harder than ever.

Recently, TechTarget's SearchDataCenter online journal described "The challenges of change and configuration management. " The article highlights a number of areas in IT operations that change and configuration management play key roles, requiring strict attention. With faster rollouts and increased demand from business, new developments are affecting the data center, requiring you to take new considerations in how your change and configuration management tools measure up.

1. Start with a solid business process.

If business processes are undefined or have not yet been implemented, then a change or configuration management tool is unlikely to yield any benefit

2. Align the business and IT planning.

The impact of any prospective tool on IT and the business should be carefully evaluated, and this requires detailed communication and agreement between IT and business. Change and configuration management tools should never be deployed as a unilateral IT directive.

3. Use the tools consistently.

Data tracked by the tool can quickly fall out of date and produce erroneous reports – reducing the tool's value to the enterprise.

Especially with the adoption of disruptive new technologies like cloud, drastically increasing the amount configuration data. "The highly dynamic nature of cloud-based operations increases the volume of configuration information and the amount of changes needed to keep track of," described in Hybrid Cloud: Harsh Reality And New Challenges.

4. Verify physical and virtual interoperability with the tool.

It's critically important to ensure interoperability between the tool and the heterogeneous elements of a data center, including servers, networks, storage systems, and so on. "The amount of resulting information can be overwhelming, so change management teams need to rely on analytics. This analysis should be capable of interpreting the results of automatically collected granular configuration information, and produce actionable findings for driving operational decisions," as explained in Change and Configuration: Critical Piece Of The Private Cloud Picture

5. Setup and prepare the tool effectively.

Effective tool setup and preparation is essential before a business can get the most value from a software tool. This is even more critical for change and configuration management tools, which are notoriously complex.

6. Consider the impact of backup and disaster recovery planning.

Attempting to recover an infrastructure without proper change and configuration management support may be just as problematic for a business as being unable to recover a critical VM. 

The dynamic nature of the modern data center makes new configuration management tools even more critical for disaster recovery. "Cloud configuration management is also affected as there is no control of artifacts or monitoring across environments, making partial deployment rollback extremely difficult. When deployment errors occur, an inability to easily investigate them and recover can lead to failed launches, with costly downtime delays," as outlined inCloud Configuration Management Is Critical For Leveraging Cloud Advantages

7. Consider the costs.

Change and configuration management tools can be a costly addition to the enterprise.

So in selecting tools for today's challenges, change and configuration tools need to address new levels of complexity. "Most of the existing cloud vendors are missing the critical element of configuration management, and are focusing almost solely on deployment automation. Vendors like Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, and IBM know you need packaged solutions that just work, but until recently they left too much of the burden on their customers." (3 Painful Real World Private Cloud Challenges)

8. Due diligence and business alignment

Avoid bringing in a costly new tool which does not support major parts of the infrastructure, is not setup to optimize the workflow, does not accommodate current management paradigms for the company, or even map to business goals.

For example, dealing with the rising trend of Private Cloud implementations, introduces much more complexity. This is due "to the many interdependencies and limited visibility into the actual environment configuration, rollback of a system based on virtual images reset requires that the entire setup must be updated, and then synchronized, while making the upgrade and roll back of the entire business service is a challenge." (Rollout and Rollback – A Viable Strategy?)

Your Turn
We'd like to hear your insights into this area.

What challenges have you encountered for change and configuration management?
About the Author
Martin Perlin