Change is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes, all we can hope to do is manage our place within its cryptic and ceaseless processes. This is especially true in IT.
Fortunately, smart organizations stay ahead of change with proven IT service management frameworks to control and document the various changes made to a project or system. Enter configuration management.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details of configuration management, including some of its significant benefits and the steps to take to implement it in your organization.
Configuration management in a nutshell
Quickly defined, configuration management is a process of change management used to configure and maintain a system's consistent operational performance. It’s a kind of service management used to weather the change a product or system can be expected to go through.
Given its function in managing a complex wealth of data and assets, much of the processes of configuration management are automated. In addition to reducing human error and cost, ITSM automation also provides an air-tight efficiency in carrying out the tasks required of it to monitor the networks, software, or operating systems of an organization.
Why is configuration management important for IT infrastructure?
To put it into simple terms, configuration management is important for IT infrastructure because IT infrastructure is complex. Configuration management shares many ideas with both change management and asset management in its processes. A specific example of its application today is software configuration management.
Consider the many systems and assets that make up IT infrastructure. The intricate relationships between databases, servers, applications, networks, operating systems, and general software need a kind of management solution that keeps it all running smoothly. Another illustration of configuration management can be seen in unified communications.
Configuration management covers a wide set of functions in service management used in the maintenance of your IT infrastructure, including project management, asset management, and audits. All these are key to preserving the well-being of your IT processes and assets.
To achieve this, your organization will need a configuration management database (CMBD) as well as a configuration management plan to ensure a fluid execution of the most effective configuration management capability possible. InvGate Insight is an asset management solution that makes it quick and easy to generate a thorough CMDB and meet your configuration management needs.
Configuration management makes the life of an IT manager easier. By organizing, standardizing, and stabilizing a developing system, it gives an IT team a grounded discipline that forms a stable work environment while also providing the necessary space for creativity in problem-solving.
In fact, there are several benefits to configuration management. Let’s take a look at them now.
What are the benefits of configuration management?
The most obvious benefit of configuration management is having a plan or rubric of action that resolves problems when they arise if it doesn’t prevent them all together. It’s a kind of project insurance when performed correctly. The following are some more specific benefits to configuration management.
- Reduced cost — A configuration management database keeps tabs on all configuration items, configuration data, and assets of your organization. This visibility into all the different IT processes, relationships, and resources will help you identify any bottlenecks or duplication of IT systems that are costing you money.
- Tighter security — The aforementioned birds-eye view of all your IT assets also lends clarity to any security breaches or places of vulnerability. This reduces the risk of an outage with the same transparency into any errors or redundancies present within current systems.
- Legal compliance — Standardizing, defining, and documenting the change process can reduce any potential legal liability by creating a record of actions to reference. Just as well, the formal policies and procedures that come from configuration management grant you more control of the entire process.
- High quality of service — Faster recognition of problems and their resolution increases the quality of service for customers but also the experience for internal teams. This is another benefit that saves on cost.
3 steps to implement configuration management in your organization
Ultimately, you’ll determine how to best implement configuration management in your organization, but for the sake of brevity, the following are the three main steps your team can start with. They focus on a foundational set of principles found in change management and asset management.
It can go by several names, but as the title here suggests, at this step your configuration management tool will discover all the configurations, configuration items, or any other elements of your IT setup and establish a baseline of identification. The idea is to scan every IT resource across your organization including any hardware or software found in your physical, virtual, and cloud environments.
In addition to cataloging every element, identification will also analyze their relationships and interdependencies, painting an even fuller picture of your infrastructure. Identifying every asset in your IT environment is a slow process that is vulnerable to error, so be sure to have your team follow up with a thorough review to cover up any gaps in the baseline.
2. Version control
Now that you’ve gathered together a complete list of your configuration assets, you’ll need to carry out the task of monitoring all the data. All changes made to the baseline will need to be verified according to pre-defined practices and policies during this process. They are recorded, documented, or logged regardless of irregularity.
This procedure ensures all changes are approved to avoid baseline disruption and configuration management failure.
Finally, to ensure both your baseline and current configuration management environment are aligned, you’ll need to perform regular audits. In a similar way to version control, you’ll log all hiccups or changes to the data center and record how they were remediated. Audit reports are then used by decision makers within your organization to modify any snags in your overall configuration process.
What should a proper configuration management tool be able to do?
The right configuration management tool for your company should lead with its configuration management database. Ideally, it provides a centralized view of your entire IT infrastructure with an accessible service catalog of all physical and cloud assets.
Visualization of your configuration management database should give a clear presentation of CI types and CI relationships. The proper configuration management software should also easily integrate with your assets in external cloud services.
For a complete and real-time view of your IT infrastructure, we recommend InvGate Insight. In addition to integrating with your service desk, Insight accomplishes all of the above to ensure your team is equipped with a configuration management database that accurately maps out the topography of your IT landscape.