IT infrastructure consists of the components required to operate and manage a business’s IT environment, such as hardware, software, networking, operating systems, and data storage – all of which support the delivery of IT-enabled business systems and processes. Without structure and control, this infrastructure will become inefficient, leading to downtime, business interruption and reduced productivity – bringing effective IT infrastructure management into sharp focus.
IT infrastructure management
Technology forms the backbone of any business in the digital age, and must not be neglected. IT infrastructure management provides the multiple components responsible for delivering your business’s diverse technical operations with structure and control, by administering and managing technology proactively.
The complexity of IT infrastructure often makes it necessary for its management to be divided into three sub-categories:
- Systems management: this covers a wide range of key activities, including the administration of all IT assets normally found within a data centre – the responsibility of the CIO or CTO – security-focused initiatives, log management, workload automation, configuration management, and the integration of cloud-based applications and services.
- Network management: IT security and operations analysts manage and configure networks to ensure resources are properly allocated to applications and services, and the quality and availability of IT services are guaranteed. Security also falls within this bracket, as IT operators must maintain network visibility and transparency to control the business’s security posture and protect against unauthorised access and data breaches.
- Storage management: data storage space is a limited and valuable asset for businesses. Therefore, the effective oversight of data storage systems and resources – such as virtualisation, provisioning, compression, and security – is essential.
The digital landscape is awash with uncontrollable variables, however one thing you can control is your IT environment by engaging in IT infrastructure management. Get this right and the benefits are compelling:
- Make informed IT decisions: you’ll know when to change and upgrade systems, and when to lessen risk.
- Mitigate risk: enables you to implement worthwhile controls to help you proactively monitor and identify potential risks, such as intrusions and viruses, and establish a backup plan.
- Prevent sudden downtime: a robust defence system will also mitigate sudden outages, ensuring business continuity and steadiness is maintained.
- Improve user experience: by understanding the current state of your IT infrastructure, you can create a better experience for your end-users.
- Reduce costs: by proactively managing your IT infrastructure your business will be well-placed to avoid costly downtime and data losses, leaving you with more money in your IT budget for upgrades and security systems.
IT infrastructure management vs IT operations
There’s a term that has entered the common IT parlance because both elements work in unison to ensure service and application delivery: “infrastructure and operations” (aka I&O). While they both complement each other in this respect, they have distinct differences.
We have established that IT Infrastructure refers to the collection of technologies that make up the physical and virtual systems that provide the networking, processing, and storage capabilities that businesses depend on. IT operations on the other hand, is an umbrella term for all the processes involved in the setup, design, configuration, deployment and maintenance of the IT infrastructure that supports the business.
IT infrastructure security
The proliferation of malicious Cyber-attacks leading to data breaches has brought the need to protect your business’s IT infrastructure from vulnerabilities into the spotlight. Failure to do so will expose it to a range of risks and Cyber threats that can lead to business disruption, IP loss, administrative costs, data security issues, GDPR matters and reputational damage.
To mitigate these risks, you must build security into every level of your business’s IT infrastructure, and maintain that cyber security when data moves beyond your platform. This includes:
- Updating IT security policies
- Auditing IT security
- Updating password policy and accessibility
- Improving data backup and recovery solutions
- Installing robust anti-virus software
- Updating your firewall
Remote IT infrastructure management
According to Hewlett Packard: “Remote infrastructure management is the process of monitoring and managing IT infrastructure from a remote location with the ability to perform remedial actions to enable continuous availability.”
Centralising your IT infrastructure management offers a range of benefits: greater coordination, ease of maintenance, improved innovation, cost savings, improved availability, reduced risk, and increased productivity, flexibility, and efficiency.
Remote IT infrastructure management can be implemented and managed in one of two ways: by in-house IT technicians, or outsourced to a third-party IT service provider. Outsourcing these remote processes to a third-party presents your business with access to relevant skills and experience, and allows you to focus on achieving your business goals and developments without inflating your IT budget.
IT infrastructure manager
An IT infrastructure manager is essentially a project coordinator who specialises in computer network infrastructures. Their responsibilities include:
- Ensuring relevant IT costs are on budget
- Liaising between IT staff and project stakeholders
- Managing IT infrastructure and security to maximize availability and data protection
- Defining, measuring, and meeting specific KPIs
- Establishing strategic direction for operating systems
- Promoting simplification, standardisation, and innovation
- Maintaining logs, documentation, and reports of activity
To perform this role, IT Infrastructure Managers require a diverse skill set with extensive experience of systems, network and storage management, together with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Project Management or a related field.
Outsourcing IT infrastructure management
To remain competitive within the dynamic digital landscape, businesses need to create new paradigms for a holistic, nimble, flexible, and scalable IT infrastructure through efficient processes and innovative solutions. To achieve this, and to absorb the stress of maintaining and improving their critical infrastructure, many businesses are seeking the services of specialist third-party IT service providers.
The benefits of outsourcing your complete IT infrastructure management include:
- Increased productivity
- Flexibility to adjust to evolving industry standards and internal requirements
- Exposure to novel technologies
- Reduced risk: compliance, security, continuity
- Comprehensive managed services
- Lower costs
- Increased time to focus on internal business developments
Don’t let your IT infrastructure cause you a self-inflicted headache because you have neglected this vital element of operational efficiency, continuity and growth for your business. View your infrastructure as a business enabler – something that has the power to drive your business forward by identifying and pursuing opportunities for improved performance – and manage it accordingly, so you are well-placed to harness its true potential.