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What is “Configuration Drift”?

Definition of Configuration Drift

Configuration drift is a phenomenon occurring when production environments gradually diverge or “drift” from their initial, defined configurations. It can be caused by updates, patches, or adjustments made directly to servers, network devices, or other infrastructural elements that aren’t mirrored in the codebase or configuration management tools.

Potential Problems Caused by Configuration Drift

  1. Inconsistencies: As the drift continues over time, the chances of inconsistencies between environments rise. These inconsistencies can cause deployment, testing, and troubleshooting difficulties due to the environment’s unpredictability and lack of reproducibility.
  2. Stability and Security Risks: Any unplanned or untracked changes can pose stability risks to a system, and create vulnerabilities that can be exploited for malicious purposes.
  3. Troubleshooting Challenges: Identifying the cause of a problem becomes more complex when the configuration has deviated from the baseline.

Managing Configuration Drift in DevOps

Configuration drift in DevOps is typically handled using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and Configuration Management tools. These tools are designed to ensure changes to the infrastructure are made in a controlled way, maintaining the consistency of the environment. Automated testing and monitoring are also important to detect and manage configuration drift promptly.

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