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What is Cloud configuration management?

What is Cloud configuration management?

What is Cloud configuration management?
date_range - 4 months ago

Configuration management is defined as a process in systems engineering that allows establishing and maintaining the consistency of a product’s performance and attributes with the requirements, design, and operational information.

Configuration management ensures that a system performs as expected even as it is modified, and it enables automating the installation and setup of system and software packages. Configuration management can eliminate the need to configure servers by hand: this in turn eliminates human errors and gives engineers more time to dedicate to other activities. All this applies to cloud configuration management as well.

Why use configuration management?

Misconfigurations are changes that are made but remain undocumented. They are one of the leading causes of security incidents and can create inconsistencies and poor performance. Misconfigurations made across various applications can cause instability and downtime. Doing everything manually - such as maintenance, changes, etc. - is impossible in every bigger environment, and is generally not recommended due to the high possibility of errors. And yet it is vital to maintain every system regularly and document all changes in order to be efficient.

Thanks to configuration management, it is possible to:

  • Define system settings;
  • Construct and maintain systems;
  • Manage systems by groups;
  • Automate patching and updating;
  • Distribute new settings to all relevant systems;
  • Detect out-of-date and ineffective configurations.

The challenges

More companies are switching to the cloud, especially after a big part of the population started working from home. This places developers under stress as they have to deliver new multi-cloud applications quickly. At the same time, these applications become more self-contained, which makes it more difficult to manage relevant company concerns - such as reliability and security. In fact, this complexity is one of the causes of security breaches.

Managing configurations is increasingly complex, and the complexity is mostly felt in the following areas:

  • Cloud world: cloud systems include multiple third-party systems, computing, microservices, and a service mesh. Logically, the configuration needed to connect all the systems is extensive and excessively straining on your team. Since nobody uses custom tools built by in-house developers anymore, most cloud systems rely on numerous third-party services - each with its own configuration, which impacts other configurations and generates additional complexity.
  • Security: As we mentioned before, increased complexity breeds security risks. Due to interdependent functionalities, it typically takes more time and requires the experience of senior developers to debug issues and identify their causes. As a result, a tiny security vulnerability might become bigger and reduce productivity.

How can AWS help?

AWS offers a useful tool for your cloud configuration management needs - CloudFormation. It allows organizations to represent AWS infrastructures as code. Turning any process into code is beneficial since code management is a well-known technique that has been improved over time. It enables you to put into practice various quality control and efficiency approaches that you're presumably already using, such as peer reviews, source control, validation, and many more.

AWS CloudFormation offers additional possibilities:

  • It is possible to test AWS infrastructures just like you would an application code;
  • By implementing CloudTrail, you can control who makes changes to your infrastructure, which changes they make and when they make them;
  • You can create on-demand infrastructure for code testing when you need it;
  • ● Implement Service Catalog to allow developers to create environments for testing.

Cloud configuration management might seem like a lot to take on, but it brings undeniable rewards.

If you want to know more:

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