The 10 Software Configuration Management Tools

DevOps has transformed in just a few short years from a niche movement to a need for any IT executive. There is a lot of talk about it, but there is also a lot of useful information. These crucial yet sensitive tasks—provisioning environments, installing applications, and managing infrastructures—are all often carried out by hand. What if we could automate all of that, saving us hours of labor and eliminating the possibility of human error?

To help you pick the configuration management tool that's best for you (and be able to defend your decision not to select choices X, Y, and Z), we've made it simple to quickly review each tool and compare it to alternatives.

What is Purpose of Configuration Management?

Configuration management software permits the use of tried-and-true software development processes for real-time administration and provisioning of data centers using unencrypted specification files. Some people refer to CM solutions as "DevOps in a Box," however this is incorrect. Although CM technologies are simply that—tools for automating the application of configuration states—DevOps is about human cooperation. They are made to tackle certain issues in specific ways, much like any other tool. Depending on the knowledge and skill of the person using them, they can be used more or less efficiently.

Risks and Rewards

The advantage of automating configuration state changes for your infrastructure is that you can make changes rapidly, but someone or something else must validate those changes. Before deciding on a configuration management solution, evaluate which complementing tool(s) you will employ to minimize the costly impacts of automating the deployment of flaws in your infrastructure-as-code. Moreover, version control and textual friendliness are features of software configuration management (or SCM) technologies. We can make modifications to the code and submit them as a merge request for review.

Many of the operating-system-specific implementations of a configuration are abstracted away for you by configuration management tools. On both Red Hat and Ubuntu systems, for instance, the installation of Apache HTTPD may be managed using the same configuration file.

An enormous cybersecurity risk that can lead to data leaks and other cyberattacks is improper setup. Cybersecurity, information security, and information risk management must be taken into consideration while automating infrastructure configuration.

The 10 Software Configuration Management Tools

following are the top 10 Software Configuration Management Tools −

1. CFEngine

CFEngine is an older open source configuration management application that enables automation configuration for large computer systems, including unified administration of servers, systems, users, embedded networked devices, mobile devices, and other devices.

2. Puppet

One of the greatest sources for DevOps trends is Puppet's yearly "State of DevOps" report. For those working in operations, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the Puppet platform is becoming more and more crucial. Declarative programming languages or Ruby are used by Puppet to specify the system configuration. It is divided into modules, and manifest files provide the desired-state objectives to maintain the necessary state of everything.

Puppet's open source edition is free, while Puppet Enterprise is cost-free for up to 10 nodes. Every node (physical server, device, or virtual machine) in the infrastructure will have a Puppet agent installed on it after Puppet is installed.

3. Chef

Chef, along with Puppet, is a major heavyweight in the CM and automation platform industry. It oversees servers that are either on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment. As you switch cloud providers, you may manage both the data center and cloud environments at once if you are cloud-agnostic.

4. Ansible

Ansible, which is newer than Chef or Puppet, is the best open-source configuration management, deployment, orchestration, and automation engine. Fedora and other well-known Linux distributions contain it. It aids in the automation of the IT infrastructure, which results in significant productivity improvements for software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment.

Ansible is one of our favorite tools. From the command line, you may use Ansible to run the same command on several servers. It may also be used to automate operations (such as adding users, installing packages, and changing server configurations) with playbooks written in YAML, allowing technical and non-technical teams to communicate more effectively. Programmers and non-programmers alike will find Ansible to be straightforward, agentless, and simple to read.

The absence of agents implies reduced load on your servers. Push mode (the default) needs an SSH connection, however, pull mode is accessible when necessary. It is possible to write playbooks with only a few commands or to scale them with more complex automation tasks involving roles, variables, and modules.

5. SaltStack

SaltStack, the leading proponent of the "infrastructure-as-code" philosophy, has amassed a substantial following despite its relatively late entry into the market due to its numerous integrations with cloud providers such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and others.

"Similar to Ansible, Salt is created in Python. It was also created in reaction to complaints about the Puppet/Chef monopoly, particularly their cumbersome deployment process and requirement for Ruby. While Salt supports Python, it also requires that all CLI commands be written in either Python or the unique DSL known as PyDSL. This makes Salt sort of in the middle between Puppet and Ansible. It use a master server and distributed agents known as minions to command and interact with the target servers, however this is carried out using the ZeroMq messaging library at the transport layer, which makes it considerably quicker than Puppet/Chef."

6. TeamCity Configuration Tool

Jet Brains' TeamCity is another management and continuous integration server built on the Java programming language.

7. Docker

Docker is a relative newcomer that has taken the DevOps and software development worlds by storm since its inception in 2013. Docker's lightweight containerization technology is the secret to its success −

"Their method ensures that software programmes will function on any Linux server, independent of setup and/or settings, by deploying software applications with all essential components in a container. Created, customized, and saved as templates for usage on other hosts running the Docker engine, containers can be used. The same OS, settings, and binaries may then be used to generate more containers using these templates."

8. Using PowerShell DSC

Microsoft's solution for CM, PowerShell DSC, is not to be surpassed by open source solutions.

"A new management platform for Windows PowerShell called DSC makes it possible to deploy and manage configuration information for software services as well as the environment in which they operate.

DSC includes a collection of Windows PowerShell language extensions, new Windows PowerShell cmdlets, and resources that you may use to indicate how your software environment should be configured declaratively. Moreover, it offers a way to monitor and preserve current setups."

9. Rudder

Rudder is an open-source IT infrastructure management application that runs on top of CFEngine. Rudder's special asset-management feature can identify nodes and their attributes, which might be helpful when carrying out configuration management operations. Asset management is used by this CMT to identify configuration management nodes.

Rudder relies on a small local agent that is downloaded and installed on every monitored machine. Scala is used to create the server-side web interface for Rudder, while C is used to create the local agent.

10. JUJU Configuration Tool

An open source programme called Juju focuses primarily on reducing the operational overhead of newer technologies. Juju provides functionalities like scaling, integrating, customizing, and many more. JUJU doesn't give specific instructions on how to use the OpenStack cloud service.


In conclusion, DevOps has become a necessity for IT executives, as it enables the automation of sensitive and crucial tasks, saving time and eliminating the possibility of human error. Configuration management is a significant part of DevOps, as it allows for the rapid application of configuration state changes, making changes easier to implement. While there are many configuration management tools available, such as CFEngine, Puppet, Chef, Ansible, SaltStack, and Docker, it is essential to evaluate each one's complementary tools to minimize the costly impact of automating the deployment of flaws in infrastructure-as-code. Additionally, while automating infrastructure configuration, it is critical to address cybersecurity, information security, and information risk management. DevOps is about human collaboration, and configuration management technologies may be utilized more or less efficiently based on the knowledge and competence of the person utilizing them.

Updated on: 27-Apr-2023


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