In an ideal world, IT organizations would have enough time, money and resources to be proactive and run a predictable practice. They would be equipped with reporting capabilities to provide meaningful measures and metrics to the business, indicating how IT provides value.

However, today’s business challenges have forced many IT organizations to be reactive. IT organizations are challenged with budgets, shadow IT and public cloud providers. In the interest of time, businesses are compelled to adopt new methodologies to circumvent IT altogether. IT is often asked to do the impossible with slashed budgets, increased demand and decreased headcount.

At Kovarus, we assist our customers with these challenges by helping them adopt automation methodologies, also called configuration management. Introducing configuration management into a traditional IT environment builds a foundation to free up time and capital spent on tactical activities, or “keeping the lights on,” and to invest in strategic activities that improve IT capability.

Configuration management tools

A typical entry point for configuration management is to identify key use cases to automate repetitive and manual tasks. By automating these tasks, IT can begin to develop a basic foundation of “Infrastructure as code,” enabling the organization to deploy new services quickly and reliably.

Automation capabilities ultimately allow IT teams to focus on more innovative work instead of on cumbersome manual activities. This allows system administrators to support more systems and devices without adding headcount, which improves productivity for the IT organization. As the automation improves, system administrators are able to deploy infrastructure in a desired known state. This provides greater reliability within the IT environment.

Configuration management solutions are used in conjunction with orchestration tools such as a Cloud Management Platform, which provides a front-end portal and an IT self-service catalog for end users. Cloud Management Platforms orchestrate and manage the lifecycle of virtual machines. Configuration management tools allow IT to provision systems and applications regardless of where the systems are on site or in a public cloud. System and application configurations are stored in a centralized repository. By decoupling intelligence of the virtual machine state from the Cloud Management Platform, configuration management decreases complexity and increases future flexibility and portability.

Automation through configuration management is also a key component in the DevOps tool chain. These practices enable a continuous integration and continuous delivery models. They require reliable, automated provisioning, automated testing, consistent application deployments and advanced API integration into other tools supporting the tool chain. Automating the system and application deployments enables developers to deploy entire application stacks, allowing developers to move code into production more quickly. Configuration management tools can also work across all functional environments, including development, quality assurance, pre-production and production, ensuring consistent and accurate system and application builds.

A foundation for innovation

Automation not only helps IT organizations become more efficient and adopt a more proactive operations posture, it allows them to do more with less. Furthermore, configuration management tools are the foundational components that make up a greater ecosystem of tools that support DevOps practices and cloud management frameworks.