DevOps Configuration management

Maintaining systems, like computer hardware and software, in the proper state is a process known as configuration management. Using configuration management (CM), you may make sure that systems operate consistently with expectations throughout time.

CM aids in locating systems that need to be patched, updated, or reconfigured to comply with the desired state. It was first created for the US military but is now extensively utilized in various systems. According to the IT Infrastructure Library, CM and IT service management are frequently used together (ITIL). Tools for configuration management, such as those found in VMware VCenter, are frequently used to implement CM.

Why is Configuration Management important?

The environment is kept from being altered by unauthorized changes thanks to configuration management. By doing this, CM can assist in preventing performance problems, system discrepancies, or compliance problems that could result in fines and penalties from the law. These unauthorized modifications may cause system instability, malfunction, or downtime.

Manually carrying out these tasks would require more work for large systems. With enough documentation, IT organizations might find it simpler to track which systems require attention, what actions should be done to solve issues, what activities should be prioritized, and whether changes have been confirmed and implemented throughout the system. For each application, managing software configuration may include hundreds or even thousands of components.

Using a configuration management system, an organization can specify settings consistently, then create and maintain them following predetermined standards. There should be several tools in a configuration management plan that.

  • Group system management and categorization capabilities
  • Make central adjustments to baseline settings
  • To automatically apply updates and patches, push changes to all impacted systems.
  • Locate problematic settings that are inefficient or illegal
  • Prioritize steps to be taken to fix problems automatically
  • Apply remediation when needed.

As businesses increasingly use microservices architecture, where each service uses metadata to encode specifications for resource allocation, secrets like passwords, and endpoints to define connections to other services for registration and initialization, the need for a consistent configuration management process becomes even more apparent. This architecture comprises numerous code segments of varying sizes connected by APIs.

These solutions enable a configuration management strategy to produce a "single version of the truth" for the desired state of systems throughout the company by making all configuration changes transparent, enabling audit trails, and keeping track of system modifications.

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How does Configuration Management work?

Information about the network topology and configuration data from each application are gathered before the configuration management process even starts. Identifying secrets, such as encryption keys and passwords, will enable them to be encrypted and carefully stored. After being gathered, configuration data must be imported into files that serve as the single source of truth and the central repository for the desired state.

After data has been gathered, the company can create a baseline configuration, which should be a known-good configuration that can carry out the desired tasks without glitches or problems. In most cases, this baseline is created by noting the configuration of the active production environment and storing those configuration settings as the baseline.

Following the creation of the baseline, the company ought to implement a version control system. Creating a repository of configuration data for this use is something that many organizations do with Git.

Accountability and visibility into configuration changes are ensured through auditing and accounting, which helps to make sure that any changes made to the configuration are evaluated by stakeholders and accepted.

What are the Benefits of Configuration Management?

When hardware and software systems are set incorrectly, issues might arise. These issues can be avoided by using a configuration management system. In the future, costly remediation projects can be avoided by simply tracking changes. To avoid problems tomorrow, you pay for CM today. To ensure that deployed applications behave as expected, configuration management, for instance, aims to verify that the development, test, and production environments are identical.

When issues arise, CM can replicate an environment or recreate the environment where the issue happened to make scaling and workload transfer between on-premises clouds and clouds more convenient.

To automate these administrative operations, configuration management technologies use scripting. This enables servers, VMs, and containers to be rapidly provisioned to the appropriate state in minutes instead of days or weeks.

Main tools of configuration management

  • Ansible
  • Chef
  • Ansible
  • Puppet


Ansible is an open-source IT automation solution that automates numerous manual IT activities, including provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, orchestration, and many more. In contrast to more basic management tools, Ansible users (such as system administrators, developers, and architects) can use Ansible automation to deploy software, automate routine tasks, provision infrastructure, enhance security and compliance, patch systems, and distribute automation throughout the entire company.

How Ansible works

Ansible works by connecting to the process you wish to automate and pushing scripts that carry out instructions that would have been handled manually. These applications employ Ansible modules, which are created in accordance with the precise requirements for the endpoint's connectivity, user interface, and commands. Then, Ansible runs these modules (instead of the usual SSH protocol) and deletes them (if applicable) afterward.

Ansible for infrastructure provisioning

The infrastructure (such as a server or cloud endpoint, for instance) must be set up for the first time before an application can be installed and configured. Ansible playbooks are used by businesses wishing to scale IT rapidly and reliably since it is impractical to provision hundreds of thousands of servers manually. It is no longer possible to supply hundreds or thousands. With the help of an Ansible playbook, you may create one instance and then utilize it right away on another server or as many other servers as you want, all using the exact infrastructure specifications or parameters. The environment may now be configured as part of the IT operational life cycle once it has been provisioned, a process that Ansible is also very good at.

Benefits of Ansible

Ansible may undoubtedly offer a lot of benefits because of all the simplifications.

  • Learning Is Simple
    Ansible's simplicity is one of the benefits that are most frequently mentioned. Not just professionals but also novices are intended for simplicity. Users could learn Ansible rapidly and with increased productivity because it is simple to use. Complete and straightforward understanding documentation is provided to help Ansible.
  • Reasonably Simple Using Python
    Ansible's use of the language it is written in is one of its most notable benefits. Ansible is built on the human-readable Python programming language. Due to the usual inclusion of Python libraries in most Linux distributions, it offers more excellent facilities for setting up and operating Ansible.
  • No Dependency on Agents
    Ansible's agentless nature is the following significant enhancement to its advantages. Ansible uses the Standard SSH or Paramiko module to manage all master-agent communications. An essential component of managing nodes is the Paramiko module, a Python implementation of SSH2. As a result, Ansible's administration functionality can be achieved without installing any agent on remote servers. Because of this, using Ansible significantly reduces maintenance costs and performance degradation.
  • Playbooks are written in YAML
    The primary benefits of Ansible are also attributable to the use of Playbooks in the platform. Ansible playbooks are configuration files, and they are written in the YAML language. In this situation, the intriguing aspect is that YAML is a superior choice for configuration management and automation.

Disadvantages of Ansible

  • The user interface is inadequate
    The poor user interface is the first thing listed under Ansible's drawbacks. The first version of Ansible was a command-line-only program. Using the AWX graphical user interface, Ansible made its first attempt at creating a user interface. The REST endpoint, which aims to simplify infrastructure administration, was the UI's other element.
    The Ansible Tower, a web management user interface, later replaced the AWX. A team-based workflow tool is available with Ansible Tower's visual management features. However, there are a lot of changes that need to be made to the Ansible Tower. For instance, over 85% of actions that may be carried out through the command line can be done using the user interface.
  • Lack of any Notion of State
    Ansible's absence of any concept of state is another significant drawback frequently brought up. Compared to other automation tools like Puppet, Ansible needs help understanding the concept of state. Ansible executes sequential jobs and terminates execution when a task completes, fails, or encounters an error. It does not keep track of dependencies. Users who expect the automation tool to keep an extensive inventory for ordering will appreciate these characteristics less. With no interference from environmental alterations, the catalog can assist in getting to a particular state. It needs to be added to Ansible, which is a severe drawback.


Chef is a configuration management DevOps solution that controls the infrastructure through coding rather than by a manual method so that it can be quickly automated, tested, and deployed. Numerous systems, including Windows, Ubuntu, Centos, Solaris, etc., are supported by Chef's client-server architecture. Additionally, it is compatible with cloud computing infrastructures like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Open Stack, etc. Before diving deeper into Chef, let's first gain a basic understanding of configuration management.

Even when running on cloud or hybrid infrastructure, Chef automated the configuration, deployment, and management of applications across the network. The application deployment process can be accelerated with chef. The speed of software development relates to how rapidly the program may be changed to meet new requirements or circumstances, and Chef is a fantastic tool for expediting software delivery.

Benefits of Chef

Accelerating software delivery: Once your infrastructure is automated, all software requirements, including testing and setting up new environments for software deployments, go along more quickly.

Service expansion Resilience: By automating the infrastructure, defects and errors are spotted and fixed before they can cause problems, and mistakes are more swiftly corrected after they happen.

At every stage of deployment, chef reduces risk and boosts compliance. It lessens disputes in the setting of production and development.

Cloud adoption: Chef is readily adaptable to a cloud environment, and the infrastructure and servers may be quickly installed, configured, and managed automatically by Chef.

Managing Data Centers and Cloud Environments: Chef can run on various platforms, and you can manage all your cloud and on-premise platforms, including servers, under Chef.

IT operation and workflow streamlined: Chef offers a pipeline for continuous deployment that starts with building and testing and continues through delivery, monitoring, and troubleshooting.

How Chef Works?

Workstations, nodes, and the Chef Server make up the core components of Chef. Changes are kept on the chef server, which serves as the focal point of all operations. The workstation is the location where all codes are created or modified. Chef oversees nodes, which are machines.

The user can interact with chef and chef server through Chef Workstation. Knife and Chef command line tools are used for interacting with Chef Server. Chef node is a virtual or a cloud machine managed by chef and each node is configured by Chef-Client installed on it. Chef server stores all part of the configuration. It ensures all the elements are in right place and are working as expected.

Chef Components

Chef has major components such as Chef Server, Workstation, etc.

  • Chef Server
    Each node in the Chef-Client is described in cookbooks, recipes, and metadata, which are all stored on the Chef server. Chef-Client is used to provide configuration information to the node. Any modifications must go through the Chef server before being deployed. It checks if the nodes and workstations are connected to the server using authorization keys before pushing the changes and then permits communication between workstations and nodes.
  • Workstation
    Both the Chef-server and the Chef-nodes are accessed through the workstation. Cookbooks are also produced using it. Workstations are where all the interaction happens when creating, testing, and deploying Cookbooks. They are also where codes are tested. Based on the development and production environments, workstations are also used to define roles and environments.



The configuration management process can be centralized and automated with the help of the system management tool puppet. Software deployment tools like Puppet are employed as well. It is an open-source configuration management software frequently used for server setup, management, deployment, and orchestration of multiple services and applications over an organization's Infrastructure.

Components of Puppet

The primary server environment (seen above) and the client environment can be separated from the Puppet environment. A Puppet master store, which houses all configuration files, is in the primary server environment.

  • Manifests are the genuine client configuration codes.
  • To create a final document, templates integrate Code and data.
  • Clients can download files, which are static material.
  • Manifests, templates, and files are gathered together as modules.

The master may sign certificates sent by the client with the permission of the certificate authority.

How Do Puppet Work?

The architecture of Puppet uses primary and secondary nodes.

The clients are dispersed across the network to communicate with the primary-secondary environment, which contains Puppet modules. The server receives a certificate from the client agent along with its ID, signs it, and sends it back to the client. Between the client and the master, this authentication enables secure and verified communication.

The factor then gathers and communicates the clients' states to the master. An agent executes the manifests on its machine based on the fact that was sent, and the master compiles the manifests based on that fact into the catalogs that are sent to the clients. Any modifications are documented in a report the client generates and sends to the master.

This procedure is conducted regularly to make sure all client systems are current. As we learn more about Puppet in the following section, let's learn about the numerous businesses that have adopted it.

Companies Adopting Puppet

Knowing about the businesses that use Puppet to manage their Infrastructure can increase your interest in learning more about it. A few of them are.

  • Spotify
  • AT&T
  • AON
  • America's Air Force

These businesses may have chosen to use Puppet for various reasons. As an illustration, Staples employed Puppet as a configuration management solution to automate its IT operations and private cloud management to ensure consistency, giving their IT teams more time to innovate.

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DevOps Containerization And Orchestration


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