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8 Best Server Configuration Monitoring and Auditing Tools for 2019

8 Best Server Configuration Monitoring and Auditing Tools for 2019

Greater than ever, server configuration is necessary. Misconfiguration cannot solely have devastating results on server efficiency, however they will additionally pose a safety danger. For this reason server configuration monitoring and auditing instruments have turn into fashionable. They may help you make sure that your server configurations are standardized, that the widespread parts have equivalent configurations on every server and that the configurations in place adjust to no matter regulatory framework your group is subjected to. These instruments are additionally safety instruments as they’ll shortly spot any unauthorized configuration change and provide you with a warning to it. In the present day, we’re reviewing a number of the prime server configuration monitoring and auditing instruments.

We’ll start our exploration with some background info that may be sure that we’re all on the identical web page and that all of us agree on what’s what. It’s important because it looks like everybody has his personal concept of what server configuration monitoring and auditing is. These totally different factors of view turn out to be apparent whenever you take a look at the extensively totally different functionalities provided by the a number of instruments. So, we’ll begin off by making an attempt to elucidate what server configuration monitoring and auditing is. Then, we’ll briefly talk about Server Configuration Administration, looking for out whether it is only a totally different identify for the identical factor or whether it is actually one thing else. General, we’ll see that nothing on this specific area of data know-how is clearly outlined. Due to that, many several types of instruments can be found. With all this background info behind us, we’ll lastly leap into the core of the topic and evaluate a few of the greatest instruments we might discover.

About Server Configuration Monitoring And Auditing

Let’s begin by making an attempt to raised outline the idea of server configuration monitoring and auditing. It looks like the one factor everybody agrees on is that it offers with server configuration. Let’s begin with that. Server configuration refers back to the operational parameters of servers. This will embrace which providers are operating, how the community stack it configured, how time is synchronized, any configurable parameter discovered on a server.

Extending from our try at defining server configuration, server configuration monitoring is the surveillance of the server configuration parameters to make sure they don’t seem to be modified unknowingly. Any change must be a deliberate change and any unplanned change might be a sign of some irregular exercise and must be trigger for concern.

As for server configuration auditing, it’s intently associated. It pertains to creating positive that server configurations are accomplished in accordance with plan. The target of auditing server configurations might merely be to make sure a point of uniformity throughout servers nevertheless it may also be a regulatory requirement. Some regulatory frameworks—reminiscent of PCI-DSS, for instance—mandate that some configuration choices are set in a exact approach. Server configuration auditing can then be used to show compliance.

Configuration Administration – The Similar Factor?

One other in style idea, in terms of server configuration is server configuration administration. And many individuals marvel if server configuration administration and server configuration monitoring and auditing usually are not one and the identical. Sadly, that is one other query which lacks a transparent reply.

The best way we see it, server configuration administration is a bigger course of which frequently consists of monitoring and auditing elements. As such, a number of the instruments on our record are literally server configuration administration instruments. The primary distinction is that server configuration administration entails automating a number of the steps concerned in configuring servers. The idea additionally typically embrace backing up server configurations.

In abstract, server configuration monitoring and auditing is a subset of server configuration administration. This is the reason a few of the instruments we’re about to evaluate are literally administration instruments. However there are additionally instruments that are standalone monitoring instruments or auditing instruments whereas some mix monitoring and auditing in the identical software.

Some Of The Best Out there Tools

As you may be anticipating by now, our listing consists of a powerful number of instruments with about simply as many various functionalities as there are instruments. A few of our instruments are true server configuration monitoring and auditing instruments. Others are server configuration administration instruments. Others but don’t match into any class of instruments. They do, nevertheless, present so a means of monitoring and/or auditing server configurations. This was our main inclusion issue.

1. SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor (Free Trial)

SolarWinds is among the best-known makers of community administration instruments. The corporate has been round for some twenty years and has introduced us a number of memorable instruments. Its flagship product, the SolarWinds Community Efficiency Monitor persistently scores among the many prime community bandwidth monitoring instruments. And to make issues even higher, SolarWinds additionally makes a number of free instruments, every addressing a selected want of community and system directors.

On the subject of monitoring and auditing server configurations, what you want it the SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor or SCM. Whereas the identify just about says all of it, there’s extra to this device. It’s a highly effective and easy-to-use product which is designed to offer monitoring of server and software modifications in your community. As a troubleshooting software, it could provide the needed details about configuration modifications and their correlations with efficiency slowdown. This will help you discover the basis explanation for some efficiency issues brought on by configuration modifications.

SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor Screenshot

The SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor is an agent-based software, with the agent deployed on every server being monitored. The benefit of this structure is that the agent can hold gathering knowledge even when the server is disconnected from the community. The info is then despatched to the software as quickly because the server is again on-line.

Function-wise, this product leaves nothing to be desired. Along with what’s already been talked about, this software will routinely detect servers which are eligible for monitoring. It comes with out-of-the-box configuration profiles for the most typical servers. The device may even allow you to view hardware and software program inventories and report on them too. You’ll be able to simply combine SCM into your system monitoring answer because of the Orion Platform from SolarWinds. This can be a useful gizmo that can be utilized to watch your on-premises bodily and digital server in addition to your cloud-based setting.

Costs for the SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor aren’t available. You’ll have to request a proper quote from SolarWinds. Nevertheless, a 30-day analysis model is obtainable for obtain.

2. Netwrix Auditor For Home windows Server

Subsequent on our record is the Netwrix Auditor for Home windows Server, a free Home windows Server reporting software that retains you posted on all modifications made to your Home windows Server configuration. It might monitor modifications such because the set up of software program and hardware, modifications to providers, community settings and scheduled duties. This toll will ship day by day exercise summaries detailing each change over the past 24 hours, together with the earlier than and after values for every modification.

Netwrix Auditor Enterprise Overview

Netwrix claims that the Netwrix Auditor for Home windows Server is the “free Windows Server monitoring solution you’ve been looking for“. The product complements native network monitoring and Windows performance analysis solutions. It has several advantages over the built-in audit tools available in Windows Server. In particular, it improves security and offers more convenient audit data retrieval, consolidation and representation. You’ll also appreciate how easily you can enable continuous IT auditing with far less time and effort and control changes more efficiently.

As good as the Netwrix Auditor for Windows Server is, it is a free tool with a somewhat limited feature set. If you want more functionality, you might want to try the Netwrix Auditor Standard Edition. It is not a free tool but it comes with a vastly extended feature set. The good thing is that when you download the free Netwrix Auditor for Windows Server, it will include all the features of its big brother for the first 30 days, letting you get a taste of it.

3. Quest Change Auditor

Quest Software is a well-known maker of network administration and security tools. Its server configuration monitoring and auditing tool is aptly called the Quest Change Auditor and it offers real-time security and IT auditing of your Microsoft Windows environment. What this tool give you is complete, real-time IT auditing, in-depth forensics and comprehensive security monitoring on all key configuration, user and administrator changes for Microsoft Active Directory, Azure AD, Exchange, Office 365, Exchange Online, file servers and more. The Quest Change Auditor also tracks detailed user activity for logons, authentications and other key services across organizations, enhancing threat detection and security monitoring. It features a central console which eliminates the need for and complexity of multiple IT audit solutions.

Quest Change Auditor Screenshot

One of this tool’s great features is the Quest Change Auditor Threat Detection, a proactive threat detection technology. It can simplify user threat detection by analyzing anomalous activity to rank the highest risk users in your organization, identify potential threats and reduce the noise from false positive alerts. The tool will also protect against changes to critical data within AD, Exchange and Windows file servers, including privileged groups, Group Policy objects and sensitive mailboxes. It can generate comprehensive reports for security best practices and regulatory compliance mandates, including GDPR, SOX, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, FISMA, GLBA and more. It can also correlate disparate data from numerous systems and devices into an interactive search engine for fast security incident response and forensic analysis.

The pricing structure of the Quest Change Auditor is rather complex as each monitored platform must be purchased separately. On the plus side, a free trial of the product is available for each supported platform.

4. Puppet Enterprise

Puppet Enterprise is more, way more, than a server configuration monitoring and auditing tool. It is an all-encompassing integrated management solution. The various tools in Puppet Enterprise let you discover, control and deliver all of your applications and the infrastructure they run on. It gives you a common language to manage everything you have, from mainframes to containers, in the cloud or on premises.

Puppet Enterprise Screenshot

Puppet Enterprise has over 5,500 prebuilt supported, approved and community-contributed modules. With such as broad range of covered products, it’s easy to get started quickly and automate your infrastructure. It supports many different platforms from AWS, Azure, Docker and OpenStack to AIX, Cisco, Splunk and VMware. The toolset will accelerate the provisioning and the management of your virtual machines, cloud resources, network devices, and more.

When it comes to server configuration monitoring, users seem to like how easy it is to track changes on servers. The ability to go back and look at previous reports to see what changes were made during previous puppet runs is also much appreciated. Puppet Enterprise has a rather steep learning curve but, if you’re looking for a full-featured automation solution, it’s certainly worth looking at.

5. Ansible

Ansible from Red hat falls into the same category as Puppet. It is a very broad automation platform that can be used for a huge array of tasks which include such diverse things as software deployment to server configuration monitoring. Wikipedia defines it as “an open source software that automates software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment“.

Ansible Screenshot

Of course, in the context of this list, what’s of interest to us are the tool’s configuration management capabilities. Despite being a complex tool, Ansible claims to be the simplest available solution for configuration management. It is designed to be minimal in nature, consistent, secure and highly reliable, with an extremely low learning curve for administrators, developers and IT managers.

Ansible only requires a password or SSH key in order to start managing systems. It can manage them without installing any agent software. This can avoid an all too common problem with agent-based solutions: “managing the management”. When utilizing Ansible, gone are the times of questioning why configuration administration daemons are down, when to improve administration brokers, or when to patch safety vulnerabilities in these brokers.

6. CFEngine

CFEngine is one other open-source configuration administration system. The device’s main perform is to offer automated configuration and upkeep of large-scale pc methods. This consists of the unified administration of servers, desktops, shopper and industrial units, embedded networked units, cellular smartphones, and pill computer systems. Created means again in 1993, it’s definitely the oldest software on our record. Its venerable age is a testomony to the worth of the software.

CFEngine Screenshot

CFEngine presents directors an interface which is unbiased of any working system. This facilitates upkeep actions throughout totally different hosts operating totally different OSes. The instruments underlying concept behind CFEngine is that that pc configuration must be executed in a convergent method. Which means it doesn’t matter what the preliminary system state is, CFEngine might be run over and over with predictable outcomes. Arguably probably the most established configuration administration software, CFEngine has undergone quite a few iterations however has managed to retain its relevance whilst working methods have migrated from native knowledge facilities to the cloud.

As we speak, CFEngine exists in two variations. There’s CFEngine Group, a very free and open-source product. There’s additionally a CFEngine Enterprise model which is simply free to make use of for as much as 25 hosts. In case you have greater than that, you’ll have to contact CFEngine and purchase a license. The primary benefit of the Enterprise model is the help you get from CFEngine.

7. Chef

Chef is a strong configuration administration device which is on the market both as an open-source or as an enterprise-grade product. It’s a versatile and scalable platform for automation and it’s able to providing integration with most main cloud suppliers. The software additionally has help for enterprise platforms, together with Home windows and Solaris. It additionally permits customers to bootstrap, handle, and develop OpenStack clouds.

Chef Screenshot

Chef has a special strategy from comparable instruments in that it automates infrastructure by reworking it into code and making it extra testable, dynamic, and human-readable. This lets directors shortly and simply provision, handle, and adapt infrastructure elements to their altering necessities. The device accelerates and simplifies the method of shifting purposes to the cloud. Utilizing it, workload migration turns into extra constant and maintains a tempo that fits to directors.

Chef can be utilized to simply handle several types of environments and servers, each on-premises and the cloud. Utilizing this software makes it simpler to regulate all cloud environments. This lets you select the cloud suppliers that meet your necessities based mostly on options and value. Chef is a dependable answer and the Chef Server API stays obtainable even throughout partial hardware or community failure. For additional robustness, the system might be operated in a high-availability configuration.

8. Salt

Salt—which is usually known as the SaltStack Platform—is a Python-based open-source configuration administration software program and distant execution engine. Considerably like Chef, it makes use of the “Infrastructure as Code” strategy to deployment and cloud administration. The software is in the identical class as and competes immediately with comparable instruments similar to Puppet, Ansible, and Chef.

SaltStack Screenshot

One of many product’s robust fits is the quite a few superb options which can be found for configuration administration. Most significantly, utilizing this software could be very simple and any administrator ought to really feel snug utilizing it. Additionally it is acknowledged as a clear device with which directors can clearly see and perceive what’s happening inside the product. That is totally different from another merchandise which have extra of a black-box strategy. For an open-source product, the group help out there is best than what’s obtainable with many comparable merchandise. You may by no means want help, although, as this product is sort of resilient. And should you’re managing a rising community—aren’t all of them—you’ll definitely respect the device’s scalability.