20 Best Configuration Management Tools in 2017

Configuration Management Tools

Your business involves the use of a lot of hardware and software, and you need to have a way to record information about your system and keep that information updated. You need to be able to list the software that is installed, network addresses of company computers, hardware configuration, creating updates/ideal models that can be used to restore or update computers. So, what you really need is a good configuration management tool.

With so many tools available, it can be difficult to know which ones are the best, and which are the best fit for your company needs. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of our top 20 configuration management tools for you to choose from.


1. Chef – This is a free, open-source tool, and there is also a paid enterprise subscription you can use if you need additional features. Chef is written in Ruby, and it is easy to customize for any business by anyone who is proficient in the Ruby programming language. There are over 800 free modules, and installing Chef is easy, and takes little time. Some of the features include text-based search, support for man environments, command line interface, testing mode, and huge data base for storing records if you have a lot of computers for your business. You can install various modules, or even create your own, making Chef a configuration tool that is very customizable.


2. Puppet
– Originally a DevOps tool, Puppet is growing in popularity as a configuration management tool. Just like Chef, Puppet was written in Ruby, and is available in paid enterprise and free open source versions. The biggest difference between Puppet and Chef is that while Chef has many free features, most of the best features in puppet are in the paid version. If your company doesn’t need a lot of features, or there is someone on your staff who is an expert in Ruby programming, you can probably get away with the free version. If not, you will need to buy the enterprise version. It is worth it, considering there are over 2,000 pre-built configurations, as well as many other options, including orchestration, automation, role-based access, an event inspector, and a whole lot more. Puppet can also work on many different platforms.



3. Ansible – This tool uses Secure Shell (SSH) so you have a configuration management tool that is easy to use and has loads of security. There are many other services offered, including workflow monitoring, automating app deployment, and more. The main principles of Ansible are a small learning curve, being easy to use, complete automation, efficiency, and plenty of security. This is an open-source program, making it ideal for new or small businesses that are operating on small budgets. If you need a configuration management tool, but you don’t know how to use one and don’t have the time to figure it out, this is probably one of the best tools for you. There is also a paid version that offers even more features.

4. Salt – Here is a configuration management tool that is more for larger, enterprise businesses. It uses sub-processes or minions that take their commands from the main system. Then, the results are reported. This tool supports many different hosts at once, and creating configuration files is quick and easy. One of the great things about Salt is that it is easy to learn how to use, making it ideal for those who don’t have a lot of knowledge in programming. It is easy to customize, and you can any language for rendering configurations, giving you a bit of control over files.



5. Docker – If you want to be able to compose an application from microservices, but you don’t want to have to worry about any inconsistencies between development and creation or lock into a specific platform or language, Docker is an excellent option. You can design all of the application development, testing, and distribution, and it is easy to manage. Docker makes it easy to use scalable services and know that it is reliable and secure, on a variety of platforms.

6. Syncro SVN Client – Here we have one of the most popular open-source configuration management tools available for version controlling. It is free for any business to use, anywhere in the world, and it offers many of the same benefits as packages that can cost a lot of money. There are loads of quality control benefits, and there are loads of features, including support for Apache Subversion, a repository browser, resource history, directory change set, advanced working copy, revision graph, detailed author information, built-in text editors, and the ability to synchronize changes right from copy against the repository. Between being free and being so easy to use, it is no wonder why this tool is so popular.




7. Perforce – This version-controlling software is from Perforce Software Inc., and it allows users to connect to a shared file repository where their files are transferred from repository to repository and to various work stations. Features include a built-in document compare tool, the ability to compare and combine MS Word and PowerPoint documents, group files into projects and teams, email sharing and work flow, and receive immediate notifications. You can set a space level access control, which allows you to manage who is able to see, share, edit, and comment on files.

8. Rational Clear Case – IBM developed this configuration management tool, and it gives you version control, build auditing, parallel development, and even workspace management. You can use this tool to integrate with different rational products, and it can be used for teams of any size, and with members in most parts of the world. Features to look for include file directory management, management of issues and resolution, management of parallel development, secure authentication that uses provided electronic signatures and audit trials, and easy integration with other products. Rational Clear Case is also file centric, so you can make sure that a check-in is done for each file.


9. Cobbler – There is a lot of reusing and recycling with Cobbler, which aims to reduce templates that are used for the creation of configuration services. The response files come from templates that are mainly made up of recoded information. But, Cobbler is a lot more than just templates. There are loads of snippets that can be added to any template, so you are basically coming up with your own configurations, quickly and easily. You don’t have to worry about writing code, so anyone can use Cobbler without having to take a course in programming. This tool can be connected with other similar programs.



10. Terraform – Here is a tool that will let you build, combine, and launch infrastructure quickly, easily, and securely. You can use it for physical servers as well as containers and SaaS products. Use Terraform to create and compose every component your business needs to run all of your services and applications. It is easy to use, and like many of the other configuration management tools in this list, you don’t need to have a lot of programming skills to be able to use all of the features offered.

11. CFEngine – You need to have total insight for all decision support involving your software delivery process, and this tool gives you that insight. Use CFEngine to create a complete release pipeline that spans both technical and business teams and aids in managing manual and automated steps. Deployment automation lets you make sure that all complicated application deployments are automated and standardized. You will also have visibility across the board for all of your tools, and you can build on the tools you already have so you can see the complete software delivery process.

12. Rundeck – This tool is what you need when it comes to open-source software job scheduling, and it offers the Run Book Automation system that lets you automate all processes throughout the development and production. You can use it for task scheduling, executing multi-node commands, orchestrating workflow, and logging everything that goes in within the hardware and software your business uses.



13. ServiceNow – This is a PaaS (platform as a service) provider that offers service management software for every aspect of your business. Fred Luddy, former CTO of Peregrine Systems and Remedy Corporation, founded ServiceNow in 2003. He first created a generic framework for workflow that was called the “Glide” platform. From there, he went on to specialize in ITSM (IT service management) applications that are created based on ITIL standards.

14. Packer – If you are operating on a small budget, you should opt for free configuration management tools. Packer is one of the free tools, being an open-source software that you can use to create containers for a variety of platforms or twin machine images just by using one single source configuration. Hashicorp’s Mitchell Hashimoto created Packer to be an open-source software that is proprietary-managed. You will find this tool goes hand in hand with Vagrant, which also happens to be written by Hashimoto, and is the next tool we are going to discuss.



15. Vagrant – Virtual development environments can be created and configured with Vagrant. This is a tool that can wrap itself around other virtualization software, including VirtualBox, KVM, Vmware, LXC, etc. It can also work with various types of configuration management software, such as Chef, Salt, Puppet, and Ansible. This is a tool that is easy to use, and it can be used with so many other types of software that it is one of the more versatile configuration management tools available.

16. BladeLogic – Here is a great choice if you want all of your configuration changes within the data center to be done with automated management, as well as control and enforcement. You will have a management solution that goes across most platforms, and lets you manage virtual and physical assets within the cloud and a regular data center. BMC BladeLogic offers all of this, and then some, and it isn’t going to cost you a fortune to use it.



17. Foreman – This is an open-course systems management tool that offers a complete life cycle. It will provision, configure, and monitor all physical and virtual servers, and it can be integrated to other configuration management software, such as Puppet, Salt, Chef, and many others through the use of plugins. These plugins let you automate the tasks that are repetitive and boring, so you don’t have to keep doing them yourself. You can also deploy applications, as well as manage changes to servers that are in use.

18. Rudder – Here is another open-source configuration management tool that lets you automate all of your system configuration, no matter how large your business IT infrastructure is. It uses a simple local agent that is installed on all machines that are to be managed by this tool. Rudder is an offshoot of CFEngine 3. This is an ideal tool for businesses that need to use large IT infrastructures, but it can also be used by smaller businesses that want total automation of system configuration.



19. Consul – This tool is what businesses need for service discovery, as well as configuration and orchestration. It is a multi-datacenter that is very available, and distributed. .You can use Consul for fast deployment, configuration, and management of all service-oriented structures on large levels, making this a tool that can benefit large corporations. But, no matter what size your business is, you can benefit from using Consul.

20. PalletOps – If you are looking for a platform that allows for easy automation of infrastructure, right in the cloud via server racks or virtual machines, this is a tool worth considering. Pallet gives businesses provider independence, as well as operating system independence. It is easy to customize pallet, so you can make it specific to your business needs. PalletOps is ideal for both large and small businesses, and because it is so easy to customize, it is easy for anyone to use, even if you don’t have a degree in programming.

Greg Digneo

About Greg Digneo

Greg Digneo writes for TimeDoctor.com, a time monitoring and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams. If you would like to see where you and your team are spending your time during work, then try TimeDoctor free for 30 days.

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