It has been long held that *nix administrators should use version control, but this knowledge has not really made it over to the Windows world where a lot of VMware administrators come from.
I consider version control for scripts and configuration files to be an essential part of any well run site. It is something that can be set up in a few hours (Window or *nix) and most admins will need to learn only the basics of the tools.
The benefits of version control are many, but here are the ones that stick out for me:
- The ability to revert to a known good file if problems are encountered during a change.
- Much more scalable than creating file.bak, file.bak001, file.bak002, etc.
- A known good source to determine what has been modified in a file.
- An authoritative source for files that can be made easily accessible via http or the version control tools.
- The ability for multiple admins to work on scripts and track when and what changes were made.
Here is an article that was written for Login magazine that gives a good overview of the process.
Using Version Control in System Administration by Luke Kanies