DevOps Configuration Management: How Does it Simplify Configuration Management?

DevOps Configuration Management | What ,Why & Tools

Imagine waking up one day and realizing that the world is nothing more than a computed simulation, and everything is connected to one configuration file. Let’s say you have the exact configuration file of that simulation in your hand. Out of curiosity, you add some text to the configuration file, and BOOM, your appearance change; you grow a bit taller, achieving that dream built of yours. Sounds magical, right? This is what DevOps Configuration Management is about.

Now, Let’s look at Configuration Management in the DevOps world, and here you have a different set of servers working on different requirements on its specified configuration. These servers/devices are connected to a primary/master hub containing a configuration script. Just by changing a configuration file, you can affect all the servers. From ensuring the servers stay up to date to making individual changes in software and much more.

This blog will help you understand how you can create magic (with very few lines), which can save up so many resources and time in DevOps management.


What is DevOps Configuration Management?

In layman’s terms, it is the process of defining, changing, releasing, controlling, documenting, and reporting the configuration of items (irrespective of the order) in a system. It’s like ensuring you have all the pieces when putting together a puzzle; when done right, configuration management in DevOps can help developers make changes to their systems quickly and efficiently while ensuring nothing breaks. It can also help keep track of any updates and changes along with the incident that triggered the change.

In a properly managed DevOps configuration management, there are two prominent outcomes:

  • Infrastructure as code.
  • Configuration as code.

Delivering Infrastructure as code:

Infrastructure as code (IaC) in DevOps configuration management means managing and provisioning infrastructure through code rather than manually configuring it through a web interface or command-line interface. This approach allows for infrastructure to be version controlled, tested, and automated, just like application code.

This method makes it possible to manage infrastructure the same way you would an application and makes it easier to deploy things consistently, go back to earlier versions if needed, and keep track of what’s happening with the infrastructure in a transparent and traceable way. Some popular tools used for IaC include Ansible, Chef, Puppet, and Terraform.

Example: Assume you wish to build a web application on a cloud provider such as AWS. Traditionally, you would have to establish a virtual server manually, install the operating system, configure the network settings, and install the application-specific software.

With Infrastructure as Code, you’d write a script that outlines the infrastructure required to execute your application. This script will tell you what kind of server you need, how much memory it should have, and what software needs to be installed. After you’ve built the script, you can use a tool like Terraform to create the server, configure it, and install the required software with a single command. This way, you can consistently create a reproducible infrastructure and easily manage it in the future.

Delivering configuration as code:

Delivering configuration as code (CaC) is a way to manage and set up your system and apps using code instead of manual adjustments. This makes it possible to keep track of changes, test them, and automate the process just like your app’s code. This method lets you manage settings the same way as the app, making it easier to deploy or roll back changes quickly, see what settings are being used, and ensure everything is running correctly. What’s more, next time you’re looking to manage your configuration, don’t forget the power of code and cast some spells!

Example: Using a tool like Ansible to configure a web server is an example of presenting configuration as code. Conversely, you can use an Ansible script instead of manually setting up the web server. This script will automatically configure the webserver to run the correct software version, set up the number of worker processes, and specify its root directory – essentially creating a recipe for setting up the web server that can be saved, reviewed, and tested before running.

Why Is Configuration Management Important?

From ensuring all the servers work as expected to massive scope for scalability, Configuration management (CM) is important for several such reasons:

  • DevOps Configuration ensures that all servers, applications, and systems are configured consistently and set up the same way, reducing the chances of any errors or differences in how they’re configured.

  • CM system enables easy tracking of configuration changes, resulting in configuration transparency and audibility.

  • CMS also offers automatic infrastructure provisioning and scaling, making it simple to add more servers or apps to the environment.

  • CM also ensures that all servers, applications, and systems are configured dependably and appropriately, enhancing the environment’s overall performance and reliability.

  • It also enables compliance by providing a means to document and audit configuration changes.

  • Configuration management enables quick recovery from calamities by allowing for simple rollbacks to earlier configurations.

  • Configuration management lowers the need for manual configuration, which saves time and money.

Additionally, it ensures that all stakeholders involved in the process are on the same page and have access to the same information. Furthermore, configuration management allows for easier collaboration between teams, allowing them to develop better applications and services faster. Finally, it helps organizations save time and money by automating mundane tasks and reducing the need for manual intervention.

Elements of DevOps Configuration Management:

There are three major categories essential for DevOps transformation in configuration management is in:


  • Identification
  • Control
  • Audit processes

Identification in Configuration Management:

Identification is about keeping track of what kind of software, networks, and other systems are in the environment. It means writing down the numbers that tell you which version of all the programs you’re using, how they’re linked together, and what they need to work. All this info is kept in one spot, so it’s easy to locate and manage.

Control in Configuration Management:

Control in CM is about making sure the settings of servers, apps, and systems are in order and under control. It means setting up and adjusting the hardware and software so that everything runs smoothly. This helps keep all the parts of your environment together consistently and reliably.

Audit in Configuration Management:

This is about keeping an eye on the settings of servers, programs, and computers. Knowing when those settings change and seeing what they were before. If something goes wrong, you can return to how it was before and ensure everything follows the rules or regulations.

So, all three elements work together to ensure your infrastructure and apps are set up and managed consistently and reliably. Also, making everything more efficient, scalable, and better prepared for disasters while reducing the chances of making mistakes.

Components of the Configuration Management System in DevOps:

Being an integral part of DevOps, Configuration management encompasses operational and developmental organizational activities. Key components of a comprehensive configuration management system include:

  • Artifact repository
  • Source code repository
  • Database for Configuration Management

Artifact repository:

An artifact can be anything! In this context, it is a repository, a storage place for all kinds of files, like programs and libraries, that you might need to use. Further, it ensures you always get the right file version when needed and lets people on different teams or projects share and reuse those files. Moreover, think of them like your ID proofs, which you don’t need to use daily but must be kept handy.

Source code repository:

It is like a library for a project’s source code; a source code repository stores and manages the code so everyone involved can access the right version. This makes it easier for different teams and developers to share, collaborate, and work together on the same code. Think of a bookshelf at your home where you have a set of books that comprehends the human mind; even if someone else looks at those books, they would be able to understand what it is.

Based on their version control system, there are two types of source code repositories:

  • CVCS- Centralized version control system
  • DVCS- Distributed version control system

Database for Configuration Management:

A CMDB is a central database that stores information about an organization’s systems and services. It includes info about hardware, software, and network components. you’ll be able to figure out problems faster than you can say “Expecto Patronum,” plan for the future like an actual seer, follow security and regulatory rules like a pro, and keep track of changes made to the configuration like a true historian.

Configuration Control and Audit can be beneficial if you have a CMDB, which is like having a top-down view of the changes that have been made and keeping track of how systems work before you make any changes to them. So, make sure you have a CMDB in your DevOps arsenal.

Nothing More Than a Simple IaC for Configuration Management:

Let’s look at DevOps Configuration Management and the world of infrastructure as code. From App deployment architecture to EC2 instances and RDS databases, understand the process and simplify managing things like servers, databases, and other digital services, making it easier and faster for us to edit and access them. So let’s get started!

This flow chart explains how to create and deploy infrastructure and application code. First, you make changes to the terraform git repository. Then Terraform Cloud picks up the changes from the git repo(SCM), where the terraform plan is applied and approved. Finally, once the plan is approved, the AWS infrastructure gets created!CI (Continuous Integration) and CD (Continuous Deployment) are practices that are used to automate the process of building, testing, and deploying code.

Pushing code to a Github repository is considered Continuous Integration (CI). Terraform cloud pulls the code from the Github repository and provisions it to AWS, representing Continuous Deployment (CD).

Simple Script for Infrastructure as code:

In configuration management, Terraform is a tool that can be used to define and manage infrastructure as code. This means you can use code to automate the process instead of manually creating and configuring resources through a web interface or command line.

Script: EC2 Instance


resource “aws_instance” “ec2_instance_example” { ami = var.aws_instance_ami_id instance_type = var.ec2_cluster_controller_instance_type subnet_id = var.aws_subnet_id vpc_security_group_ids = var.ec2_security_group_ids key_name = var.aws_instance_key_name iam_instance_profile = var.aws_instance_iam_instance_profile tags = { Name = var.ec2_instance_name } ebs_block_device { device_name = var.aws_instance_ebs_block_device_name volume_size = var.aws_instance_ebs_block_volume_size } associate_public_ip_address = var.aws_instance_associate_public_ip_address }

This script creates an EC2 instance on AWS using Terraform. It sets up the properties for the EC2 instance, like what type of instance it is, which network it’s connected to, how secure it is, what kind of key it has, what profile you have set up for it, labels you can put on it and how much storage space you have. All these settings are done by putting in different variables so you can easily change them and use the script again with different settings.

RDS Instance: database


resource “aws_db_instance” “default” { allocated_storage = var.rds_allocated_storage db_name = var.rds_db_name engine = var.rds_engine engine_version = var.rds_engine_version instance_class = var.rds_instance_class username = var.rds_username password = var.rds_password parameter_group_name = var.rds_parameter_group_name skip_final_snapshot = true max_allocated_storage = var.rds_max_allocated_storage }

The second script, RDS Instance, creates an RDS instance on AWS using Terraform. Also, it defines the properties for the RDS instance, such as the amount of storage, the name of the database, the engine, and version, the instance class, the username and password for connecting, the parameter group name, and the max allocated storage. Variables passed into the script set these properties, making it easy to reuse and modify for different configurations.

Variables:


variable “rds_allocated_storage” { default = 50 type = number } variable “rds_db_name” { default = “test_db” type = string } variable “rds_engine” { default = “mysql” type = string } variable “rds_engine_version” { default = “5.7” type = string } variable “rds_instance_class” { default = “db.t3.micro” type = string } variable “rds_username” { default = “root” type = string } variable “rds_password” { default = “********” type = string } ## EC2 Bastion Instance variable “ec2_security_group_ids” { default = [“sg-8770bd7ceba7d32341a” ] type = list(string) } variable “ec2_ami” { default = “ami-052efd3df9dad5672128” type = string } variable “ec2_ssh_key” { default = “ec2_key” type = string } variable “ec2_subnet_id” { default = “subnet-07053d2ec89b98222a0b” type = string } variable “ec2_instance_name” { default = “eks_cluster_controller” type = string } variable “ec2_cluster_controller_instance_type” { default = “t3.medium” type = string }

Variables.tf is a vital script that helps the other two scripts work correctly. It sets up different features for the resources, like how much storage space the RDS instance should have, what type of database it should be, which EC2 instance type to use, what security group IDs to include, the AMI ID, and SSH key for logging into the EC2 instance, a subnet ID for network assignment and a name and type for deciding on machine size. All these variables are necessary to create an EC2 instance with all the correct settings – without them, neither of the other two scripts will work as they should.

With so much code, Comes Much responsibility:

Terraform scripts are a vital tool for automating the creation and configuration of infrastructure resources. However, it’s also essential to consider the testing aspect of these deployments. This is where Testsigma comes in as a solution. You can create and run automated tests for your Terraform deployments so that you know they’re working as they should be. This is especially helpful if you have a CI/CD pipeline since the tests will run before making any changes in production, meaning fewer chances of things going wrong!

Learn more about such a powerful automation and testing tool below:

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Testsigma has a cloud-based platform that you don’t have to worry about setting up anything complicated. Besides, the platform offers an open-source option, if that’s what you prefer to begin with.

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  • It’s open-source as well as cloud-based (enterprise version) – whatever works best for you.

  • Plus, it’s community-driven, so you know it’s good.

Configuration Management Tools

Following are the best configuration management tools in DevOps.

From the best, spicy, and to the best seller, here’s the best tools that fill your appetite for Configuration management. Let’s get started 🙂

Puppet:


Source: Puppet

Puppet has been around since 2005, like that old car you’ve had since college, but it still works. It’s been improved over time, so it’s not outdated. Puppet is one of those pioneers in configuration management – it helps you automate managing systems and apps.

Features:

  • A declarative language for describing the desired state of systems

  • Can be used to manage various operating systems and applications.

  • Puppet uses a pull-based architecture, where the target nodes periodically check in with the Puppet master and pull configurations.

  • It has a large community and is widely used in the industry.

Ansible:


Source: Ansible

Ansible is like that trendy new restaurant everyone’s talking about. It’s an upgrade version of Puppet with newer features and options. It’s open-source, so you can use it to manage configurations, deploy apps, and automate tasks – all with just a few clicks!

Features:

  • Support for multiple operating systems

  • A simple and easy-to-learn syntax

  • The ability to work with data in various formats.

  • Ansible uses a push-based architecture where the control node pushes the configurations to the target nodes.

Chef:


Source: Chef

This CM tool is one of the best on the list, Chef has a great UI and takes more skill to use, but the result is worth it! It is an open-source configuration management tool that automates the deployment of infrastructure and applications. It has lots of cool features, and many big companies use it.

Features:

  • A robust, reusable framework for describing infrastructure as code.

  • It also supports multiple operating systems.

  • Chef uses a configured client-server architecture.

  • Chef has a large community and is widely used in the industry.

Salt:


Source: Salt

Next up, there is SaltStack; it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can handle it, it’ll change the game. Salt is a powerful open-source tool that works on a non-centralized or master-client setup model. This tool also helps you automate how you manage systems and apps.

Features:

  • A high-speed communication system

  • A flexible and powerful command-line interface

  • Support for a wide variety of operating systems.

Terraform:


Source: New Relic

Terraform is like a prominent band right now. Everyone is talking about it, and it’s easy to see why. It provides one of the best ways to create, change, and manage your infrastructure quickly and easily. You can use Terraform with multiple cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud – just like a concert where the headliner performs with different bands every night but still rocks!

Features:

  • This tool supports multiple cloud providers, such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.

  • This also features a human-readable language for describing infrastructure.

  • Terraform also supports version control and collaboration and provides a dry-run mode for previewing changes before applying them.

Conclusion:

Whether you’re a wizard or just a regular person who wants to get things done quickly and easily, Configuration Management is the way to go. It’s instrumental in the DevOps world because it allows you to change your systems with just a few clicks. You can think of it like waving your magic wand – you can make changes as if by magic! So grab your wands and start using Configuration Management to make life easier!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the 5 elements of configuration management?

The 5 elements of a configuration management system are:

  • Identification: Labeling and giving the configuration a unique name.

  • Control: Making specific changes are made correctly to what is labeled.

  • Status Accounting: Keeping track of and reporting on the labeled items.

  • Verification: Make sure the labeled items are correct and complete.

  • Audit: Checking if everything related to labeling is done correctly.

Which is the best configuration management tool in DevOps?

Figuring out which configuration management tool is best for DevOps can be tricky. Though Ansible seems to win the race – an open-source tool to manage configurations, deploy apps, and automate tasks! Despite being new, it has gained popularity in the DevOps world for its easy operations and simple management capabilities.


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