12/06/2024 |

Configuration Management – Definition and Best Practices

In increasingly complex corporate infrastructures, structured configuration management is crucial to meet the increasing demands on availability, performance and security.

Initially, IT teams exclusively used configuration management. Today, other industries use it as well. However, in this article, we focus on the use of configuration management in support of the IT infrastructure.

The following article is an overview of processes, tools, best practices. It also addresses future developments based on AI and predictive analytics.

Definition and importance of configuration management in IT infrastructure

Configuration management is an essential IT process. It plays a decisive role in the efficient administration of systems, applications and services in companies. It includes the systematic recording, management and control of configuration items (CIs). CIs include hardware, software, licenses, documentation and more.

The aim of configuration management is to ensure the integrity and consistency of the IT environment. It does so by documenting and monitoring the status and relationships between the configuration items. It also makes them available to the relevant processes.


The history of configuration management dates to the early days of information technology and systems management. There was a need for a single source of truth with respect to IT resources and assets.

The first concepts were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Software Configuration Management (SCM) was the approach. The development and management of software products were supported using this.

With the emergence of IT Service Management (ITSM) in the 1980s, configuration management became even more important. It broadened the scope to provide a holistic view of the IT infrastructure and its components.

Since then, configuration management has continued to evolve to meet growing demands. It supports the complexities of the IT landscape. And, it is a fundamental component of efficient service management in IT and other service industries.

Objectives of configuration management

Effective configuration management is crucial for companies, especially in the IT and service industries.

One of the main objectives is to ensure the integrity of IT infrastructures. It does so by managing and controlling configuration objects – such as hardware, software and documentation. Through clear processes and guidelines, configuration management helps optimize maintenance, troubleshooting processes and recovery times. In turn, these benefit businesses by minimizing downtime and increasing productivity.

It also supports companies in meeting compliance requirements. It contributes to the security of their systems by helping to prevent unauthorized access. The implementation of access controls and authorizations ensures that only authorized persons can change configuration data.

Basic principles of configuration management

Three primary principles drive configuration management. The first is clearly identifying IT resources. The second is having comprehensive recording and storage of relevant data. The third is having precise control and documentation of changes and current CI statuses.

Identification of configuration objects: Hardware, software, documentation, etc.

The identification of configuration objects such as hardware, software and documentation is an essential step in the configuration management process. This involves clearly labeling and classifying each individual object to define its role and function within the IT infrastructure.

Hardware includes physical devices and their properties, such as servers, routers and switches. Software includes all installed applications and operating systems. Documentation refers to all relevant documentation, including manuals, configuration guides, release notes and network diagrams.

Accurate capture of this information enables efficient management and control of these objects throughout their lifecycle.

Collecting and storing configuration data

Data is collected and stored centrally. It includes all relevant information about configuration objects, such as hardware, software and network components. This provides a comprehensive overview of the entire IT infrastructure. The configuration data contains details such as versions, locations, dependencies and physical properties of the objects.

Effective collection and storage make it easier to maintain the desired state of the IT environment. They also support quick troubleshooting, updates and the ability to scale systems.

Control of changes and configuration statuses

The monitoring and management of modifications to configuration objects throughout their lifecycle is crucial for configuration management. This includes:

  • the documentation of changes,
  • the approval of modifications according to defined guidelines, and
  • the traceability of configuration states.

Effective control ensures that changes are made properly. It also mitigates potential risks and protects the integrity of the IT infrastructure. Configuration management is the foundation of change management processes and ensures stability, security and efficiency in companies.

The configuration management process

Configuration management comprises several process steps. Together, these form a structured process that ensures the stability, security and efficiency of the IT infrastructure.


In this step, hardware, software, documentation and other CIs are recorded and clearly identified.


Changes to the configuration objects are carefully monitored, approved and documented. This ensures compliance with guidelines and standards.

Status tracking

The current statuses and versions of the configuration objects are continuously monitored and documented. This ensures a comprehensive overview.


The aim of regular audits is to check the effectiveness of configuration management and identify potential areas for improvement.

Approval process for configuration changes

The administration of configuration changes and releases is a crucial part of configuration management. This involves systematically recording, approving and controlling changes to configuration items.

A defined approval process is followed before a change is implemented in the production environment. The process includes planning, testing and documentation. This minimizes the risks of unauthorized or incorrect changes and ensures the integrity and stability of the IT infrastructure.

Configuration management tools and techniques

Common configuration management tools and their functions

  • Microsoft SCCM: A Microsoft solution that enables configuration management, software distribution and patch management in Windows environments.
  • Filewave: A configuration management tool with integrated mobile device management (MDM).
  • Baramundi: An inventory solution geared towards IT landscapes with integrated deployment mechanisms.

The tools listed offer a variety of functions – including automation, compliance management, reporting and monitoring – to effectively manage IT infrastructures. Choosing the right tool depends on the specific requirements and complexity of the infrastructure.

Importance of the Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

The CMDB serves as a central database for recording and managing configuration data across the entire IT infrastructure. It contains information about hardware, such as computer systems or network components. It also contains software information, licenses and other assets. Often, it also displays the relationships between these CIs.

The CMDB enables organizations to:

  • obtain a comprehensive overview of their IT landscape,
  • conduct impact analysis when changes are proposed, and
  • manage these changes effectively.

Such a configuration management system forms the basis for effective configuration management, the automation of processes and the improvement of service quality. A well-maintained CMDB enables companies to make optimum use of their IT resources. They are able to minimize risks and keep business operations running smoothly.

The CMDB from OTRS

The OTRS CMDB helps you keep track of all important details about assets and resources, like their status and condition. This is a prerequisite for secure IT Asset Management (ITAM) in your company.

With the ITSM solution from OTRS, you benefit from the integrated CMDB.

Manage relationships and dependencies between assets and get a precise overview of the current status of your IT infrastructure. You gain a comprehensive inventory of your IT infrastructure. This means that IT Service Management teams can react immediately to incidents and changes.

The enrichment of defined processes with data and links ensures efficient operation and further development in IT. This includes data transfer into and out of the CMDB. OTRS provides support here. It offers simple linking of tickets with assets from the CMDB. It can even transfer data from and into CMDB objects.

ITSM Solution from OTRS

Version control systems, configuration management databases and automated deployment tools.

The use of version control systems, configuration management databases and automated deployment tools is crucial for effective configuration management.

Version control systems, such as Git, allow software development to track, manage and document changes to source code. This creates a transparent and collaborative development environment.

Configuration management databases enable structured management of configuration objects and their dependencies and relationships.

Automated deployment tools, such as Jenkins or Ansible, facilitate the automatic deployment of software and configurations in different environments. This increases efficiency and minimizes human error.

The combined use of these tools makes it possible to implement changes in a controlled manner. It enables automated deployment of software and configurations.

Best practices for configuration identification

Use of unique identifiers and metadata.

The unique identification of configuration objects is a central aspect of configuration management in the IT and service industry. Various methods are used to ensure that each object can be clearly identified.

One common method is the use of unique identifiers for hardware components. Examples of unique identifiers are serial numbers, MAC addresses or UUIDs.

Software uses version numbers, build IDs or hash codes. In addition, metadata – such as location, owner, intended use and dependencies – can contribute to further specification. Precise labeling increases the transparency of the IT infrastructure. It enables efficient management, control and tracking of configuration objects throughout their entire life cycle.

Automation of configuration processes

The automation of configuration processes offers numerous advantages for companies and organizations. Recurring tasks can be carried out more efficiently and without error when automation is used. This could apply to the provisioning, configuration and updating of systems and applications. The results are a reduced manual workload, an acceleration of processes and a minimization of human error.

In addition, automation enables consistent application of configuration changes and policies across all systems. The result includes improved security, stability and compliance. Overall, the automation of configuration processes helps to increase productivity and efficiency while reducing costs.

Compliance with ISO/IEC standards

ISO/IEC standards define best practices and guidelines for the effective management of configuration objects, processes and systems. They can support configuration management efforts. Some of relevant standards are:

ISO/IEC 20000: This standard defines requirements for IT service management, including configuration management.

ISO/IEC 27001: This standard specifies requirements for information security management systems that also cover aspects of configuration management.

ISO/IEC 12207: This standard describes lifecycle processes for software products, including the associated configuration management processes.

Compliance with these standards helps implement best practices, minimize security risks and improve configuration management process efficiency.

Use of scripts, configuration management platforms and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines

Scripts enable the automation of recurring tasks and processes, increasing efficiency and minimizing human error. Configuration management platforms provide centralized control and management of configuration changes and policies across multiple systems.

CI/CD pipelines automate the process of deploying and delivering software applications, shortening development cycles and accelerating time to market. Together, these tools enable faster, more reliable and more efficient delivery of IT services and applications.

Integration in DevOps

The synergies between configuration management and DevOps practices are a critical factor in the success of modern IT organizations. DevOps emphasizes close collaboration between development and operations to accelerate the delivery of software applications and improve quality.

Configuration management complements this approach by enabling the automation of processes and the consistent management of infrastructure and applications. By integrating configuration management into DevOps, teams can work more efficiently, implement changes faster and ensure continuous delivery. This leads to increased agility, improved response times to customer requirements and ultimately an increase in competition.

Implementation of Continuous Configuration Management in DevOps environments

Implementing Continuous Configuration Management (CCM) in DevOps environments is an important step towards improving the agility and efficiency of IT organizations. CCM enables continuous and automated management of configuration changes across the entire development and deployment process.

By integrating CCM into DevOps practices, teams can implement configuration changes quickly and reliably without jeopardizing system stability and security. This leads to shorter development cycles, faster time-to-market and overall improved quality of deployed software applications. The implementation of CCM in DevOps environments thus contributes to increasing competitiveness and customer satisfaction.

Security measures in configuration management

Implementation of security guidelines and measures in the configuration management process

Protecting sensitive configuration data from unauthorized access is critical to the security and integrity of IT systems. Sensitive configuration data contains important information about a company’s infrastructure, software and security policies.

To ensure adequate protection, various security measures should be implemented – including access controls, encryption technologies and monitoring systems. A comprehensive security strategy should also include training for employees to raise awareness of security risks and promote compliance with security policies.

Effective security measures can ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive configuration data while minimizing potential security risks.

Audits and Compliance

Audits for the systematic verification of configuration integrity

Audits play a crucial role in ensuring configuration integrity. They enable a systematic review and evaluation of configuration data, processes and policies. This ensures that they meet the defined standards and requirements.

Regular audits allow potential security gaps, compliance violations or inconsistencies in the configuration to be identified and rectified at an early stage. This helps to ensure the reliability, stability and security of the IT infrastructure. These strengthen customer confidence and adherence to compliance guidelines.

Ultimately, audits are an important tool for ensuring robust configuration integrity and a reliable IT infrastructure.

Adherence to compliance requirements and regulatory standards in configuration management

Adherence to compliance requirements and regulatory standards in configuration management is important for companies and their IT governance. This includes regulations such as:

  • the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),
  • ISO 27001 or
  • industry-specific standards, such as PCI DSS in payment transactions.

These standards define guidelines that oblige companies to adequately protect sensitive data and implement security measures.

In the context of configuration management, ITSM processes and controls must be established. These ensure the integrity, confidentiality and availability of configuration data. ITIL processes and ITIL 4 Practices provide a framework for this.

By complying with these requirements, companies minimize legal risks and strengthen their customers’ trust. This gives them a competitive advantage.

Future trends in configuration management

Development of AI-supported configuration management solutions

The development of AI-supported configuration management solutions is an innovative approach to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of configuration management. Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible to analyze large amounts of configuration data, recognize patterns and create predictive models. This allows automated decisions to be made to:

  • optimize configuration changes,
  • identify potential problems at an early stage and
  • carry out predictive maintenance.

AI-powered solutions make it possible to optimize configuration management processes, maximize uptime and improve overall infrastructure performance. They represent an important step towards future-oriented and intelligent configuration management.

Using predictive analytics to predict configuration changes and impacts

Using predictive analytics helps IT and service organizations anticipate what’s coming. It offers innovative approach to managing their IT infrastructure or customer needs more efficiently. By analyzing historical configuration data and operational metrics, predictive analytics can identify patterns and predict future configuration changes and their potential impact.

Based on this, companies can take proactive measures to:

  • avoid potential problems,
  • identify bottlenecks and
  • optimize the performance of their systems.

The use of predictive analytics makes it possible to improve configuration management processes, minimize downtime and increase the overall efficiency of their IT infrastructure.

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