IT Infrastructure: Components & Importance

IT infrastructure refers to all hardware and software components that are necessary to provide applications for the end user. It includes both physical and digital resources. Network components are sometimes referred to as the third pillar of the IT infrastructure. However, the components that enable data transfer via the internet can be assigned to either hardware or software.

Due to the development towards cloud technology, the IT infrastructure of companies is no longer only located on the company premises, but also includes external data centres or cloud storage. Essential elements of a corporate IT infrastructure are for example: Hardware (data centres, rack servers, routers, switches and computers), Software (web servers, operating systems, CRM, CMS) and Network (internet cables, firewalls, routers).

The performance of any infrastructure often determines the efficiency of business processes. Since IT requirements are constantly increasing, network technology and IT infrastructure management should be regularly checked to ensure that they are up to date. Outdated structures can cause high maintenance costs, create security risks and hinder innovation.

What is IT infrastructure and how does it work?

What is IT infrastructure management involves the coordination of all resources, systems, platforms, environments and people. Modern, dynamic environments require a new management concept that improves speed, scaling and stability within the entire corporate IT environment.

Operating system management: monitors environments running on the same operating system and provides content, patch, provisioning and subscription management.

Cloud management: Allows cloud administrators to control all components running in a cloud (such as end-user accounts, data, applications and services) by managing deployment, resource utilisation and integration, and disaster recovery.

Virtualisation management: Forms an interface between virtual environments and the underlying physical hardware. It simplifies resource management, improves data analytics and optimises operations.

IT operations management: Also referred to as business process management. It involves modelling, analysing and optimising business processes that are repetitive, ongoing or predictable.

IT automation: This involves creating repeatable instructions and processes to replace or reduce human interactions with IT systems. Also referred to as infrastructure automation.

IT infrastructure definition

Although several IT infrastructure definitions are described, there is no uniform IT infrastructure definition of the term ‘IT infrastructure’. As a rule, the complete hardware and software of a company is referred to as IT infrastructure. Structural changes and measures that are necessary so that a certain software can be used are also included. 

The normal computer user will initially assume that only his desktop or laptop and his peripheral devices, such as the computer, belong to the IT infrastructure. However, he will probably not think at first that the internet line and the software are also part of it. Programmers, on the other hand, would only refer to their programming environment as an IT infrastructure.

IT infrastructure from a technical point of view consists of hardware, software and structural facilities for the operation of  software. Hardware includes computing technology, network technology, peripheral devices as well as devices for operating the hardware. An intangible component of the IT infrastructure is the software, especially the system software (e.g. operating systems). In addition, the IT infrastructure as structural facilities includes the premises specially equipped for information technology. The concept ‘Infrastructure as a Service‛ primarily represents this technical view of IT infrastructure.

IT infrastructure from the perspective of information management extends the technical view of IT infrastructure to include institutional and personnel circumstances. The IT infrastructure includes laws and standards (e.g. data protection guidelines) as well as organisational structures that have an influence on the technical IT infrastructure. Personnel-wise, IT infrastructure includes the number and know-how of employees needed for the planning, maintenance and operation of the IT infrastructure.

IT infrastructure monitoring

Often the infrastructure is spread over several locations, probably has hundreds or even thousands of devices to monitor, and there are usually several monitoring solutions and hardware from different manufacturers in use. How are administrators supposed to keep track of this?

Larger IT environments create higher loads for IT infrastructure monitoring solutions, because performance problems can cause distorted monitoring results. This in turn increases the risk of errors and failures. 

The principles of good monitoring are mostly the same for large IT environments as for small to medium-sized ones: Administrators must receive alarms and notifications when values reach certain thresholds. All information must be visible in one place. Especially for larger environments, it must be ensured that the monitoring IT infrastructure solution used is scalable.

IT infrastructure solutions

IT infrastructure monitoring is necessary today because virtualisation, big data and the use of mobile devices increase the complexity of corporate networks. The growth of the IT infrastructure and the implementation of new technologies pose new challenges for IT. In addition, IT administrators are often contacted directly by users when business applications react too slowly or even fail. This costs time that is actually needed to solve IT problems. Infrastructure monitoring is the business’s IT infrastructure solutions that support IT administrators, make their work easier, speed it up and ensure that an overview of complex infrastructures and large environments is maintained at all times.

IT infrastructure services

To ensure that the IT landscape is optimally suited to the business, many companies use professional support from experienced IT infrastructure services providers.

Regardless of whether it is a long-established company or a freshly founded start-up: the IT infrastructure of every company must fit the requirements and needs of the business. It is also the foundation of every modern business. This is especially true in times of digitalisation with all its constantly changing business processes.

Whether flexible workstations, cloud implementation, installation of a new telephone system, larger volumes of data to be processed or simply better servers and faster computers. Many companies place this type of task in the hands of IT infrastructure services in order to concentrate solely on their own core business and to support their core business according to new technological standards.

Companies can learn, for example, about the cost advantages of renting servers, software and devices, which components make the existing infrastructure even more efficient and secure, and how automated mobile device management offers full control and stability.

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