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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Monitoring Configuration Drift

by Olivia Glenn-Han, on Jan 30, 2020 1:00:00 PM

In an ideal world, configurations across developers' environment servers (Dev/QA/Staging/Prod) would be identical. Unfortunately, that's not how the "real" world works. In business enterprises, as new features are added to software, the infrastructures are constantly being changed by application owners. This results in non-uniform infrastructure across environments, known as "configuration drift."

Monitoring configuration drift is extremely important in order to make sure software environments are as close to uniform as possible. Utilizing configuration management (the solution to configuration drift) lowers costs, increases productivity and debugging time, and improves user experience. 

However, even when organizations are practicing configuration management and monitoring their configuration drift, there are still mistakes to avoid in order to be successful with monitoring as possible.

configuration drift in servers

Not Maintaining a CMDB

A large part of configuration management is maintaining a configuration management database (CMDB). A configuration management database provides a central location where information about the hardware and software installations in a network can be viewed. Information is gathered for each asset, or configuration item, and provides visibility and transparency within the workplace.

When organizations fail to keep a CMDB, organizations risk not fully understanding how the configuration of one item effects another item. Without knowing the effects, organizations risk negatively impacting their security and infrastructure.

CMDBs can be hard to maintain, especially as the number of assets increases, but proper organization and management of the database is important for successfully monitoring configurations drift and understanding infrastructure.

Not Having a Plan of How to Monitor Configuration Drift

Organizations often have massive and complex infrastructures that needs monitoring. However, it is important to define what parts are most critical to be monitored. Otherwise, configuration management can quickly become too disorganized and overwhelming.

Organizations need to define which assets are critical for monitoring within the business as a whole and in each business unit. Systems that are most important will be monitored, and this will vary from unit to unit as well as industry to industry.

Not Monitoring Automatically

There are several ways for organizations to monitor configuration drift. However, some ways or more mature and effective than others.

When monitoring configuration drift, manual monitoring is expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, manual monitoring leaves room for human error. With the exception of organizations with a very small infrastructure footprint, this is definitely not the ideal way to monitor configuration drift.

Automatic monitoring is the most mature and effective method to maintain configurations in their desired state. Dedicated configuration monitoring tools can alert of drift immediately and often have several options to address the drift, including immediate resolution. This ensures that organization's infrastructure is back to the desired state as quickly as possible, with almost no consequences.

Otter to Monitor and Manage Drift

Inedo's Otter tool helps organizations monitor, detect, and prevent configuration drift. Otter allows organizations to provision and configure their servers automatically, manage configuration drift, and have complete visibility across servers.

For further reading on this topic, check out Inedo's other blogs: How to Detect Configuration Drift and Configuration Management Best Practices.

Inedo’s DevOps tools maximize developer time, minimize release risk, and empower stakeholders to bring their vision to life faster. All with the people and technology you have right now. To get help streamlining your CI/CD processes, contact mgoulis@inedo.com.

Topics:Configuration ManagementConfiguration Drift

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