If there is one topic to never live out of relevance in IT, it would be DevOps. Development is temporary, operations are permanent, and this is why DevOps specialists sometimes might need a bit of help in their daily endeavors. Continuous deployment tools, as well as automation tools, might be something your DevOps is missing to deliver the result you’ve been expecting. The advantages of using configuration management tools are obvious and, what is more, endless, including coding conventions adherence, idempotency, improved distribution design, etc. So, today, without further ado, we will speak about five of the best configuration management tools for DevOps.
We shall start our discussion with a tool that everybody knows about. SolarWinds is one of the most famous server configuration tools that caters to the particular mission of detecting unauthorized configuration changes within your applications and servers. Isn’t it marvelous? Finding out the soft spots in your system’s configuration in a timely manner is the best strategy to keep it safe and sound. Regardless of being only two years old, SolarWinds offers you a great opportunity to set a solid configuration basis for your projects within Windows and Linux environments.
Finally, it will improve the system’s visibility and your team’s accountability. The tool is great for decreasing the troubleshooting time. This is a solution to use for multiple projects with affordable licensing. Yet, it has been reported by those using the tool that it takes quite some time to get a grasp of its working principles.
It seems like the configuration management tools must serve to render the software development cycle easier, right? Well, this is what Tambo is actually all about. Produced by Indeema Software, Inc., Tambo is, probably, the easiest and, at the same time, the most efficient server configuration tool for developers. That’s right, every developer with no DevOps experience whatsoever can use this tool to configure their product in a glimpse of an eye. Tambo has emerged as a result of Indeema's solution makers’ desire to create a tool that would optimize the time required for setting up new software development servers.
The tool enables you to create CI scripts for providing continuous integration solutions, while simultaneously giving DevOps a management instrument to keep all the configurations secured in one place. Tambo has all the embedded modules with all the needed scripts and templates within. Furthermore, you can create your own modules in Tambo, while using the predefined ones for your convenience.
The user’s experience is as easy as they come, as you get a YAML file right after the configuration process, which you can upload to GitLab CI. Hence, all the CI tools you might need for efficient configuration of your server will be there in your disposal. Furthermore, Tambo is one of the most secure platforms to use, as all the information is securely stored under encrypted titles, which automatically prevents any possibility of a successful hacker attack on your server. Basically, you should opt for Tambo if you want to:
Decrease the human factor errors within your system;
Get free and useful module sets;
Get the ability to create your customer modules;
Share your modules with the community;
Ensure your data’s security;
Ensure top-quality and structure for all of your setups;
Hence, Indeema’s Tambo is a perfect tool to use if you need all of the CI/CD tools gathered in one place, regardless of the type of project you’re trying to run. Tambo has been created to provide all the DevOps features you might need for your project and render the DevOps process easier.
It goes without saying that Chef is one of the most popular configuration management tools that today’s DevOps can enjoy, as it is a Ruby-driven platform that keeps infrastructures updated, compliant, and operative. Since Chef is one of the most popular configuration tools for DevOps, there is no need to dwell upon why Chef is actually worth your attention. Yet, there is this special “recipes” feature that captures the eye of anyone who runs across Chef in the search of a reliable server configuration tool. Those “recipes” are nothing else but a set of the provided by Chef resources, which you can use to keep your system in a sound state.
Chef is a relatively cheap tool, as it’s premium subscription is only $3.75 per month, and it is not the only reason to opt for it. It runs across multiple platforms, including Windows, Ubuntu, and others. Chef follows the Push model, thus allowing for cloud adoption. Furthermore, it would be a good choice if you’re looking to increase your service’s resiliency to defects and bugs, as well as improving your risk management and response plan. Nonetheless, one should keep in mind that Chef is not a tool for the newbies. It is a technically-oriented platform that requires solid experience from the operator. It forces you to shift to Ruby, and even though it follows the Push model, it does not support its functionality in its entirety.
Another popular configuration management tool is Puppet - a platform that harnesses declarative programming or Ruby to set the system’s configuration. With the help of its manifest files and organized modules, your system will cater to the project’s goals, while keeping everything in order. It is an open-source deployment tool that is known for being built for sysadmins by sysadmins. Learning the JSON data structures is easier than mastering Ruby syntax, which makes it easier for DevOps to deploy, configure, and manage servers.
You can use the open-source edition of Puppet for free, and the enterprise version would be free-of-charge only up to ten nodes, which is a device, a physical server, or any other kind of virtual machine. One of the major benefits associated with Puppet is that it has a lot of prominent features, including compliance and reporting, event inspection, automated provisioning, orchestration, and enterprise support. What is more, the tool is easily compatible with automation and reporting tools, while there is a huge support community to help you deal with a lot of development tools. Still, get ready for learning the Puppet DSL language if you want to run the tool efficiently. Furthermore, there is no revert system included, meaning the tool won’t react to any changes within the system in a timely manner.
Last but not least, CFEngine is a management tool that would become a great solution if you’re running a mammoth computer system, as it provides your DevOps with an opportunity of the unified management of systems, servers, users, mobile devices, and embedded networked devices. Regardless of the fact that the system’s first release was back in 1993, it’s stable release of the 3.12 version is nowadays considered to be one of the best configuration management tools for extensive server configuration endeavors. For example, the tool is being actively used by LinkedIn, Amazon, AT&T, SalesForce, and other industry leaders.
While CFEngine’s pivotal features are configuration, process, task, and patch management, it should be acknowledged that there are even more pros to take into consideration. It is highly available and scalable, as there are more than 5000 agents involved. Moving on, it is highly secure, as the company has a 20-year record of impressive security stats offered to mobile and web development projects. Finally, the resources it provides are cheap and it does not overload your CPU and RAM, thus boosting the performance. Yet, the tool’s documentation is hard to understand and the very configuration process would be beyond an even experienced DevOps’s head. Also, CFEngine is not the best tool to use with file integrity checkers.
Configuration management tools play an important role in DevOps operations. They render the very experience easier and more flexible, thus ensuring a refined end product, which is a smoothly deployed platform. Nowadays, there’s a lot of tools DevOps can use in their daily practices. Yet, the ultimate question remains the same: what’s the configuration tool’s mission? Does it have to make a DevOps’s life easier or harder? If you’re in for the former, then you should definitely choose a tool that brings on the perfect combination of operability and deliverables. Hopefully, our article was of some help and now you’ll be able to choose a configuration management tool that will take your project to a whole new level.