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Configuration management (CM) is the practice of making and tracking changes systematically so that an IT environment maintains its integrity over time. The physical attributes and functional capabilities of the IT system’s hardware and software, as well as the interdependencies of all system components, are documented and tracked by configuration management processes. CM monitors version numbers, updates that have been applied to installed software packages, and the physical locations and network addresses of hardware devices.

Configuration management includes evaluating proposed changes, tracking change status, documenting system changes and maintaining support documentation. Unlike asset management, which inventories the assets on hand, configuration management tracks changes throughout the system’s lifecycle. Configuration management is one of the operational processes in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service management framework.

Software configuration management (SCM) handles changes in software projects. It identifies the functional attributes of the software at various points in time, tracks changes requested against changes made, and monitors changes throughout the software development lifecycle. Software configuration management helps verify that the final delivered software has all of the features that are supposed to be included in the project release. Enterprises use CM and SCM to: ensure compliance; measure system performance; understand the total cost of ownership; see how changes affect key performance indicators; and make data-driven business decisions.

Data center administrators use configuration management tools to manage changes and protect interdependencies in complex IT environments. CM tracking enables consistent and repeatable server deployments. Updating, patching and configuring multiple servers and systems can be automated with CM tools such as SUSE Manager. SUSE Manager can automatically manage and monitor Linux servers across physical, virtual and cloud environments to ensure compliance with internal security policies and external regulations.