I shouldn't have to explain the concept of configuration drift to most of you, but just in case, it is the phenomenon where running servers in an infrastructure become more and more different as time goes on, due to manual ad-hoc changes and updates, and general entropy. If you're more of a visual learner, I strongly encourage watching this video from Sesame Street.
Now that we got that out of the way, does detecting and managing configuration drift in your enterprise give you headaches, slow you down and generally speaking just frustrate the living hell out of you?! We get it - we talk to organizations every single day that are struggling with the same thing so you're not alone.
Configuration drift and unauthorized configuration changes account for nearly 80% of all IT service outages (source: Gartner Research).
If gaining visibility and control of configuration differences across your environments and systems is something you have on your to-do list, we'd offer the following advice.
Step 1: Detect The first step is admitting you have a problem. Once you're ready to take control, begin to scan your servers regularly. Daily is usually enough, but focus on getting visibility into your systems on a consistent basis so that pinpointing drift becomes routine.
Step 2: Compare In order to pinpoint drift, you need to have the ability to visually compare system A to system B or environment A to environment B. Having a flexible, intuitive interface to pinpoint configuration drift is critical to making this something that you'll stick with. Otherwise, you're right back where you started.
Step 3: Automate Let's just be honest - you have a day job and managing configuration drift probably doesn't get your juices flowing per se. So automating the mundane tasks so you can focus on the important stuff is paramount. However, we caution you to jump directly to this step. You can't manage what you can't see, so take the time necessary to truly gain insight into where drift is happening because it is merely a symptom of something else happening in your enterprise.
If you are struggling with configuration drift or just want to talk, let us know.
Misconfigurations are an internal problem that emanate from within the IT infrastructure of any enterprise; no hacker is necessary for massive damage to occur to digital systems and stored data. And the problem is pervasive, with Gartner estimating anywhere from 70% to 99% of data breaches result not from external, concerted attacks, but from internal misconfiguration of the affected IT systems.