Configuration drift is caused by inconsistent configuration items (CIs) across computers or devices. Configuration drift occurs naturally in data center environments when changes to software and hardware are made ad hoc and are not recorded or tracked in a comprehensive and systematic fashion.
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Configuration drift accounts for many high availability and disaster recovery system failures. To prevent configuration drift, administrators should maintain detailed information about the network addresses of hardware devices as well as what software versions are running on them and which updates have been applied.
Special configuration management database (CMDB) software is available to help administrators prevent configuration drift. Such software standardizes the identification of configuration items to be included in the CMDB, ensures that data in the CMDB can only be changed by authorized personnel, allows administrators to view the current status of any configuration item at any time and verify, though audits, that data in the CMDB is accurate.
See also: Desired State Configuration (DSC)