Configuration Management

Configuration Management is a broad term sometimes used synonymously with systems management. Here, I’m referring to features aimed at establishing and maintaining configuration settings on managed endpoints. Server configuration management is really a separate market being addressed by a different line up of vendors such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Salt, Cobbler, CFEngine and Microsoft with its Desired State Configuration (DSC) feature in PowerShell. When it comes to endpoint management, configuration management encompasses features focused on enforcing settings from a policy perspective as well as enforcing the installation and removal of software. Like Active Directory’s built in Group Policy capabilities, settings can be enforced on endpoints either very granularly with scripts that enforce certain file or registry values or in a more user-friendly wizard interface where less deep knowledge is required to enforce a desired state. Some examples include ensuring certain software is installed, while automatically removing other software if detected in inventory. Some vendors provide an ability to check for and enforce the update of things like anti-virus definitions. Still other settings made easy to enforce may appear duplicative of Microsoft’s Group Policy such as an ability to configure and enforce power savings, screen lock, and other system settings.

Network configuration management is another related feature you will see from some systems management vendors in an effort to provide a single pane of glass for all such activities. With this, devices such as switches, routers, firewalls, etc. can have their settings retrieved, viewed, edited and uploaded from a central console.

Other related features or categories of features include Change Management. Change management is focused on keeping track of changes to network settings may notify network administrators when they take place. Another is Copy Configuration, which is the option for settings to be transferred from one device to another. A useful consideration when multiple devices across the network use the same configuration. But again, be sure not to confuse endpoint management and server management when it comes to configuration management as the needs and vendors in each space diverge greatly.

This is one of many systems management features covered here at AppDetails. When considering what features are important to you, we recommend you also contemplate the importance of a strong software inventory, application deployment, an intuitive user console and other systems management features.

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