For any MSP, increasing user and administrator productivity, reducing system downtime, and optimizing workflows are principal aims. Luckily, configuration management is a surefire way to achieve all three of these objectives. Configuration management is an efficient way of keeping on top of your systems in real-time and gives MSPs ultimate control over their environment, whilst also enhancing their workflows and reducing cybersecurity risks. This article walks you through exactly what configuration management is and how MSPs should adopt it into their working processes.
What is configuration management?
Configuration management was originally developed by the US Department of Defense as a means of monitoring the performance of complex systems over time.
In an IT context, configuration management is a management process that monitors and tracks the configuration of items in an IT system. It is essentially asset control.
For MSPs, configuration management is a real-time ‘inventory’ and status update of all their managed assets. This ‘inventory’ is an effective means of ensuring that products are performing consistently, and in line with expectations, across their lifetime, as well as keeping track of past and upcoming changes to the assets under their control. On the ground, configuration management manifests in configuration management systems that are run by IT professionals.
Configuration management is also a means of ensuring that configuration across an entire system is organized and centralized. It helps IT professionals to build systems that perform well consistently and are always up-to-date. For this reason an important element of configuration management is the documentation aspect. Up to date documentation is crucial for ensuring that your information is always in real-time, meaning that in the event of modification, expansion, repair, or change, you’re able to return your systems to their standard configuration quickly.
In addition, in most cases, configuration management is powered by automation, mitigating against human error in maintaining the environment.
What is the purpose of configuration management?
The principal aim of configuration management is to ensure your systems are always configured correctly and give you an overview of how they’re performing. This goes alongside the effective and automated deployment of any new or updated configurations.
Configuration management vs change management
Configuration and change management are highly similar but they’re not quite the same. Configuration management is interested in the present and future configuration or state of your system. By contrast, change management focuses on any changes that will be made to the configurations and how they will be implemented.
Why is configuration management important?
Keep track of your environment
First and foremost, configuration management is important because it ensures that you’re always on top of any changes that are happening in your environment.
Configuration management helps to ensure that even in the worst-case scenario you’ll always be able to recover all your assets.
Configuration management helps to mitigate against underperformance, inconsistencies, or compliance issues that might crop up.
Increased reliability and stability
Effective use of configuration management can help MSPs significantly reduce the risk of system downtime, instability, or even failure. In addition, configuration management allows you to quickly identify any configurations that aren’t working correctly and adjust accordingly.
Enhanced change management
Configuration management ensures that any changes you implement are seamless and as minimally disruptive as possible. This is because you’ll always be on top of your standard configurations, thus helping you to configure changes in a way that will impact performance as little as possible.
Keeping track of how assets are performing is essential to prevent cybersecurity breaches or data leaks. A robust configuration management approach is essential for not only improving the operation of your system but also keeping its security as watertight as possible.
Given that configuration management means that MSPs are always up-to-date in real-time about the state of their system, it makes scaling up much easier. In addition, the automation of configuration management enhances efficiency and makes sure that even large systems can be monitored easily.
Using configuration management maximizes the productivity and efficiency of MSPs because it frees up their precious time.
Why MSPs should use configuration management
Using configuration management is a no-brainer for any MSP or IT professional. It will significantly reduce your workload, mitigate against human error and increase efficiency.
For example, when regulatory or compliance requirements change, rather than manually identifying what changes need to be implemented and where, this can be a quick and automated process. In addition, configuration management makes speedy and efficient disaster recovery much easier, allowing your system to quickly recover to a working state.