Operational excellence is a crucial component to meet customer demands, and to achieve this, organizations need sound configuration management. Yet, this is an often “troublesome and confusing” concept, according to a report from Forrester.
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Configuration management, which has been around a long time, refers to “the need for a coherent information architecture supporting IT and digital operations.” It is geared at infrastructure and operations professionals who “need a comprehensive, unified approach and an up-to-date awareness of recent cloud-native, DevOps and infrastructure-as-code trends,” the report noted.
The classic standards for configuration management processes are planning, identification, control, status accounting and audit/verification, the report stated.
“Forrester believes that although the concepts and intentions of such standards are sound, the formal terminology never gained traction in technology organizations and, furthermore, that these first-generation standards overlooked the problem of data management.”
Not having clear objectives for configuration management can lead to “endless debate and misunderstandings,” the report goes on to say, and suggests some measures for how to achieve sound configuration management.
In a nutshell, I&O professionals need an information architecture and they need to pursue automation as the path to configuration success, according to the report, “but do it with sounds systems-level engineering. The future of your organization depends on getting this right.”
Choosing the right configuration management system
Modern tech organizations have a range of responsibilities from high-velocity digital product development to detailed operational discipline to cost accounting and portfolio management. “All these responsibilities touch on configuration management, but each has a different perspective and set of needs. Configuration management encompasses multiple processes, repositories, and tools—examine the options and make the right choice for the job at hand,” the report stated.
A unified framework/architecture “that clearly delineates the various aspects of the information management capabilities for your digital pipeline, from portfolio investment to development to operations,” is key to making this happen.
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But I&O professionals must prepare for discussions about configuration management, the firm advised. “Without a solid domain understanding, they’ll wind up setting the wrong expectation with ineffective, poorly scoped efforts that cause organizational confusion, receive inadequate executive support and ultimately fail to deliver value.”
Forrester recommended a number of steps I&O professionals should follow to develop an information architecture for their digital pipelines:
- Integrate your major repositories and automate functions—it’s not about one monolithic database anymore.
- Understand that at the services level, it’s a master data problem. Without resource inventories mapped to digital products, you can’t manage your technology.
- Integrate IaC release automation with the CMDB. Modern CMDBs can automatically update via APIs.
- Leverage package repositories—all deployable artifacts (whether internally built, vendor supplied, or downloaded from open source repositories) be staged in an internally managed package repository.
- Recognize that advanced analytics and AIOps are gaining momentum. Once you understand your major information stocks and flows, you can apply the full power of modern machine learning.
“The modern digital organization looks far beyond the old dogmas and develops a coherent, integrated, and economically sound approach for its information needs,” the report stated. “From the initial concept of the system to its secure development, deployment, operational support, and ongoing protection, the integrated digital fabric gathers, analyzes and feeds the necessary information back to the system’s stakeholders and stewards, all in support of keeping it responsive and valuable in service to the customer.”