Knowing about physical assets is important to many organisations as a theft preventative measure, and financial auditors need to verify that assets in the company's accounts exist. IT asset configuration management is different.
The Infrastructure Manager should ensure that apart from their identities (names) these servers, their firewalls and load balancers are set up the same. If a new server environment is created, unless deliberately different, it too should match the same configuration.
In a recent engagement, a new server had been built at a new location for a specific service. A json file with Arabic characters could not be saved through a web browser-based application: the form's submit event went into an infinite 403 (forbidden) loop. The initial focus of the investigation was on some oddment with the Arabic character set. Eventually it was determined that the firewall had not been configured to allow json files through. This is typical of an IT department with a low maturity index, combined with an "I know what I'm doing" : I don't need any bureaucratic documentation attitude not being challenged. There was no work protocol for the new build, no request for change document (so no change approval), no auto-QA, no manual QA and apparently zero documentation of the characteristics of the existing infrastructure. Everything best practices recommends was missing: a master class on how not to do IT.
Auto-QA and auto-documentation are the friends of a deployment manager.
An unchallenged "Keys of the Kingdom" technical specialist is one of the biggest risks to IT operations, particularly where the person is adept at hiding their mistakes.
In my very first engagement as an IT Consultant I found an application worked only because two copies of a database on the server were being synchronised each weekday through the developer's laptop. The developer, for unrelated reasons that might be guessed at, was designed access to the server. After a few days it was noticed this database seemed to have an inconsistent corruption: it depended on which copy was being accessed. In addition to re-writing the code, so only one copy was needed, automated checking of the deployment catalogue [a built-in service of the server software] was set up to detect any repetition.
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