Configuration Management v3: Getting Started

Author by Nathan Lasnoski

So, you've decided that you want to move to Configuration Management v3 as we discussed here?  How do you get started and make DSC a competitive advantage for your business? Define the "What" and "Why" What are the components within your environment where declarative configuration will have a ROI?  The "what" is the target system and settings you desire to control.  The "why" is the ROI behind doing so.  A critical skill in modern IT is the ability to prove value of investment.  What part of your server or application infrastructure would benefit from normalization?  Here are a few examples to think about:

  • Server base configuration
  • Hyper-V host base configuration
  • Application setting configuration
  • SharePoint setting configuration
  • SQL setting configuration

  Deploy the Platforms The deployment of the configuration management platforms for declarative configuration.  These need to cover devices and datacenters.  The tools I'll select are noted below:

  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB):  System Center Service Manager.  This will provide the location where your current configuration will be synchronized to, so you can see what is out there.  If you don't have a CMDB, you are missing out on half of the overall picture.  While it is true that v3 configuration management should always define the target state, your configuration needs to be managed and you still need to ultimately report on the environment for financial reasons.

 

  • Declarative Platform for Client Devices:  System Center Configuration Manager + EMS.  If you are looking to do declarative configuration for client systems, you're already doing much of it with SCCM.  The tools of PowerShell DSC "can work" with client systems, but the goal is really around servers and datacenters.  If you are looking to do configuration management of clients, stick to SCCM and Intune.

 

  • Declarative Platform for Datacenter:  PowerShell DSC + System Center Orchestrator / Azure-Automation.  In the datacenter PowerShell DSC is your declarative configuration management platform.  You can define the state you desire, setup a pull server, and pull the configuration down to target servers or devices.  This can be used across thousands of servers, enabling normalization of configuration state and reduction in "drift".

 

  • Business Intelligence and Validation: Validation of State.  In the long run, you'll want to understand the state deployed within the environment.  Check out our blogs on using PowerBI and Azure Operational Insights to understand current state of the deployed environment.

  Get started with configuring the platform here:

  Use it Intentionally I often find when deploying an automation platform or DSC that companies don’t fully commit.  The secret to success here is choosing to tackle a specific business problem and committing the resources to get it done.  If the challenges in the first section (such as inefficiencies in server deployment) are valuable to address, then commit the time to getting it done.  You'll be glad you did.   Stay tuned for more on DSC here!  

Author

Nathan Lasnoski

Chief Technology Officer