What Configuration Management tool to use ?

Have you done any kind of web search looking for what configuration tool you need to manage your windows environment ? If you have you have there are way too many options available and it is hard to choose one, but here are some of the most common:

  • Ansible
  • SCCM
  • CHEF

I am going to rule  Puppet out right away because they are not playing nice with Microsoft and at the moment they do not want to really partner with them. I don’t have much experience with Ansible but  if somebody can comment on this product would be great

SCCM would have been the perfect tool for the enterprise because it manage desktops, laptops, and mobile devices pretty well but it lacks in managing servers. SCCM real focus was never on servers although they are improving software updates making it cluster aware whenever you patch. Do not get me wrong SCCM is great tool for OS deployment, software deployment, patching and reporting but anything else like drift management is not that great. The current version lacks a way to manage clients in the cloud efficiently and it is not the tool to manage PowerShell DSC. I think that is the biggest disadvantage that they have and need to support DSC.

Chef, I have been playing with it for a little over two months and it is  a pretty interesting product. What SCCM lacks on Chef has it. I know is open source tool but if you have any kind of PowerShell experience it will be easy to start writing Chef resources. The biggest advantage that it has right now is that it you can manage PowerShell DSC and keep track all your nodes and you dont need to worry about GUID, checksums, etc. But remember DSC is new to Windows world but the concept has been around for quite sometime on the Linux world. Chef allows you to use their own resource and  PowerShell DSC resources at the same time and that is what makes it great. If you company uses Linux and Windows nodes using Chef should be an easy decision to make because it works with both platforms.  But also it gives you access to manage nodes in the cloud such as AWS and Azure.

It seems that Chef has an advantage right now over other configuration tools and it helps a lot that they are working closely with Microsoft. I think is worth looking at this tool but remember you will never find a tool that does 100% of what you want if you get 80% that would be the sweet spot.

I would say really start looking at Microsoft strategy because is not a coincidence that they are going to include Pester, Open SSH on Windows, working closely with Chef, working with Docker and VMware, git commands available in WMF 5.0. Make sure you align your company strategy with Microsoft strategy and do not start falling behind.

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