Implementing Configuration Manager (CM) in any IT environment quickly provides the customer with a noticeable Return on Investment (ROI) because it enables measuring your IT environment against set standards. The underlying theory is that Configuration Items (CIs) serving the same purpose should have a similar configuration, to reduce maintenance costs and improve predictability.
“Configuration Management is the ITIL V3 process responsible for the organization’s single source of information for the IT which supports the business (the CMS – Configuration Management System). It ensures that there is a complete and accurate picture of the IT infrastructure and software, thus improving the quality of most ITIL processes and better facilitating business decision-making. In addition, Configuration Management ensures the health of the organizational IT, in order to minimize disruptions to the business.”
One little known feature of CM is the ability to do Historical Comparison using snapshots of CIs that CM saves automatically each time CM detects a change to a CI and then again once a change is authorized. Now take for example a company’s website portal whose performance has increasingly shown signs of degradation over the last week or more.
In response to customer’s complaints, the administrator can investigate the issue by comparing the current state of the environment with a snapshot from a week ago. He can then examine all the changes to determine which change may have caused the performance degradation.
One real-world use-case involves comparing the configuration of different CIs in different environments. For example, comparing an application in the production environment to the same application in the staging environment helps to provide an explanation for production incidents originating under a tested configuration.
Another use-case might involve comparing live systems to the fail-over or backup systems in the event of a disaster. By implementing CM, the IT staff doesn’t have to worry about documenting changes to re-implement in the offline backup environment. Instead, once the implementation is complete, CM will provide a comprehensive analysis detailing every difference between the system. In essence, this provides the IT support staff with indisputable documentation to show that the disaster recovery/fail-over systems provide a true mirror of the live systems.
Without a tool like CM in place the IT staff could waste dozens or even hundreds of hours identifying the CIs that require modification. With CM this task becomes a very manageable and orderly procedure that significantly increases efficiency while also increasing the integrity and reliability of the infrastructure.