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Configuration Management

Eliminate Your Config Debt

December 6, 2023

Introduction

In the fast-paced world of cloud engineering, the concept of "tech debt" is a well-understood challenge. 

However, another less visible kind of debt deserves our attention: It's time to eliminate your "config debt." 

Let's understand and address this pervasive issue.

What is Config Debt?

Config debt occurs when teams make inconsistent design decisions regarding the management strategy of configuration variables and secrets. 

Without a unified strategy, each team independently determines its approach, leading to a proliferation of different variable naming conventions, storage locations, increased risk of errors, and complicated troubleshooting. 

This condition is known as "config sprawl."

Why It's Time to Deal with Config Debt

The adverse effects of tech debt are well-known: decreased efficiency, increased risk, and stunted innovation. 

Config debt echoes these consequences in the realm of configuration management. Haphazard configurations and secrets management slows down development and increases serious security risks. 

The complexity of handling numerous disparate configuration strategies can bog down even the most agile teams, making it crucial to address configuration debt promptly.

What Does Config Debt Look Like?

Look for the five signs of config debt lurking in your repos, parameters, and secret stores. 

  1. Duplicate values - The same variable is used in multiple components and needs to be updated simultaneously.
  2. Incomplete values - Ops has to chase Dev to get the correct default values to deploy the software to multiple environments.
  3. Linked values - Parameter "X" needs to be changed whenever parameter "Y" does. Their values may also need to be related.
  4. Cloned values - Cloning a prod environment to a new region requires managing config across multiple dimensions.
  5. Wrong values - An incorrect parameter value causes an outage or security issue.

Conclusion

Adopting a centralized configuration and secret management platform is at the heart of resolving config debt. 

CloudTruth offers a solution that makes managing configurations as straightforward as many assume it should be. Behind the apparent simplicity of configurations lies a complex reality. 

By embracing a unified approach with tools like CloudTruth, teams can "pay back" their configuration debt and pave the way for a more efficient and secure future. 

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