Originally Posted by pan64
Ok, in short: configuration management itself means (for me) nothing. Almost everything should be configured: a web server, samba, network interface, even vim (the editor) can be configured.
So what do you mean by configuration management? The tools listed are mainly unknown for me. In our company CM means to create a common environment for every software developer around the world (working on the same project) and I think non of the listed tools are suitable for that.
Yes, obviously everything should be configured.
Configuration management tools help you set up and maintain consistency across multiple servers doing multiple tasks, e.g. web server pool, imap server pool, smtp server pool, etc. The idea is to ensure that all servers tasked with a particular duty, e.g. web server, are configured identically.
That way, when something goes wrong, you're debugging in one place rather than searching across multiple machines' conf files looking for that needle in the haystack fat finger typo that somebody made whilst doing some quick edit to solve some other problem. Much easier to find because you're also keeping these configs in a git, subversion, etc. repo so you know precisely what changes were made, when they were made, and by whom.
Additionally, when rolling out additional servers to a particular pool, your config managemet tool ensures that that server gets the exact config it is supposed to. No tiem wasted having to have an admin trawl through the new server's conf and manually edit to taste. Also minimizes risk of errors from typos, etc.,
Of course one big upside to this for the PHB's is that you now need fewer well paid experts, as you can hire much lower end people to drive the config management tools, many of which have clicky interfaces and web based gui clients drivable by relatively low knowledge M$ weenies who are often clueless about _how_ things work but can be quickly brought up to speed on _what_ buttons to push. So the fat cats at the top & bean counters can give themselves a nice pat on the back, impress share holders with their fiduciary responsiblity, all the while skimming more money for themselves.
Some of these tools, e.g. SaltStack also include state management capabilities and thereby provide convenient hooks for monitoring as well.
So it's a big win for overworked sysadmins as well as management. Does this help clarify things a bit?
P.S.; Speaking of typos, I left that fat finger in there to help make the point ;-)