What is Configuration Management?
This topic introduces you to the concept of configuration management in BMC BladeLogic Server Automation (BSA). It includes the following sections:
As you know all too well, configuration management tasks often make up the bulk of the activities performed in a data center, including patching, configuring, updating, and reporting on servers.
Existing approaches to configuration and change control management range from highly expensive and purely reactive efforts when problems arise, to manual process-intensive configuration and change control procedures. Typically, when administrators must implement change, they run custom scripts or modify one server at a time using point tools like Windows Terminal Services, telnet, or SSH. Painful! This process is time-consuming, to say the least, and limits responsiveness at most data centers. In addition, the manual nature of these changes inevitably leads to errors causing drift in server configurations. With BSA, IT organizations can provision, patch, configure, and update servers across platforms and data centers, which enables consistency in change and configuration management with minimal scripting and manual intervention.
BSA enables consistency in change and configuration management activities. With BSA you can deploy various configuration objects to target servers and run batch jobs that configure server settings.
How does BSA manage ad-hoc and structured server configuration?
So, you' have a working BSA instance. Agents are deployed on all of the servers you want to manage. Now it's time to deploy some software. Software packaging and deployment is a common administrative task, and a good good opportunity for time savings using automation, especially on more complex packages.
Packaging can also rapidly increase the rate at which new servers are built. Most organizations have automated the building of a basic server, but the follow-on deployment of the different monitoring, backup, and security agents, server hardening, patching, and compliance validation steps can still take an awful long time. In some organizations, it can take weeks to roll out or upgrade a particularly difficult software package. The obvious place to start is with basic software deployments.
BSA supports a policy-based approach whereby changes are applied to a policy, from which subscribing servers pull down the updates. This capability significantly lowers the cost and errors associated with managing server infrastructure. BSA customers have dramatically lowered their operating costs by using Configuration Manager to automate:
- Provisioning of base OS, server stack components (middleware,utilities, system software), or multi-tier applications and manage deployments
- Change control for patches, packages, and configuration updates.
From the BSA console, you create BLPackages to deploy content, configuration changes, and applications on remote servers.
Overview of BLPackages
A BLPackage bundles configuration changes so they can be deployed to managed servers. Using a BLPackage, you can make additions, deletions, and modifications to multiple managed servers simultaneously.
You can think of a BLPackage as a bundle of code, configuration, and content. A BLPackage consists of an instruction set and the files needed to change a server's configuration. When you create a BLPackage, BSA automatically creates the instruction set. If necessary, you can customize those instructions by editing the BLPackage.
BLPackages are important because when built correctly, they become a reusable building block of infrastructure. For example, after you develop a solid BLPackage for Apache, you can reuse it in development and production environments, and you can feel confident that every server's Apache will be correctly configured, consistent, and properly managed according to your best practices.
Beyond that, other users can leverage your packages to obtain additional value. A web developer can use your Apache package as the foundation for their own package that deploys their own production code. Together, those two packages can be bundled as part of a deployment job and pushed to servers at the same time. This forms the foundation of how advanced users can use BSA to build application service stacks that include OS configuration, base software packages, and the application specific code itself.