Traditional infrastructure set-ups consist of various pieces of hardware, e.g. desktop computers and networking hardware, which connect to a server via a network. This server is typically installed onsite or at a datacentre and provides employees using the hardware access to the organisation’s stored data and applications.
Typically, traditional infrastructure setups require more power, more physical space, and more money than other delivery models since organisations with this IT model must purchase up front the capacity to scale up their data storage and services to support incremental growth. Mandatory software upgrades are also required with traditional IT infrastructure to ensure systems are cyber secure and responsibly backed-up.
For many businesses with physical servers, an in-house IT department is needed to install and maintain the hardware.
In a cloud infrastructure, all servers, software, and networks are hosted in the cloud, off premises, and end users can access the infrastructure in real time via the internet, with the ability to use computing resources without physical installation via virtualisation.
This means that, rather than investing money into purchasing physical servers in-house, organisations can rent the data storage space from cloud computing providers on a more cost-effective, pay-per-use basis.
In many respects, the challenges of IT infrastructure are down to the varied disciplines involved in its set up, which necessitates a wide variety of skilled people with the ‘know how’ to maintain it and resolve any problems that arise. Still, being aware of what these obstacles could be will allow your organisation to be prepared and deal with these issues before they escalate to company-wide problems.
To this end, below are five common IT infrastructure issues you could encounter:
1. Frequency of upgrades
Technology is ever-evolving and changes rapidly – so much so that, within as little as five years’ time, a once secure and stable system can become unstable, insecure, and obsolete without constant upgrades. Additionally, the older your IT infrastructure is – the more you are likely to pay vendors to maintain it.
Slow computers and systems aren’t just frustrating for employees dealing with freezes, slow load rates and crashes, they drive poor productivity within your business – an issue an IT infrastructure upgrade can address (after all, fast applications and cohesive systems that easily sync, share documents, and run the same software mean a more efficient business in the long term).
Additionally, whilst legacy software may feel convenient to use because employees are used to it and change is always challenging, continuing to use old software can be dangerous. Legacy systems and software are often more susceptible to viruses, malware, and cyber-attacks than new software, and old software is also in danger of non-compliance with regulated industry standards. Indeed, in as little as a month, a vulnerability can be discovered that poses a critical security risk to your estate, requiring patching within 14 days according to NCSC guidelines.
2. Not managing costs effectively
Technical troubles aside, it stands to reason that many IT infrastructure issues are impacted by the organisation’s ability to pay for the best services and monitoring tools. Indeed, IT employees and decision makers alike would agree that budget is often a major roadblock in the implementation of new and innovative strategies. Additionally, as consumption-based technology like cloud computing becomes more complex, it can be difficult for organisations to keep track of costs and ensure they don’t spiral out of control.
Good cost management will allow organisations to understand and manage the costs and needs associated with technology. In particular, speaking to your service provider about ways to maximise usage and efficiency will help reduce waste and make the most of the company’s IT budget. Your MSP should also be able to monitor usage, ensuring money isn’t wasted on unused resources and appropriately forecasting future needs.
In terms of maturity, remember, it’s key to understand the costs of providing a service to the business versus the revenue or outcome that this service provides to your organisation. This view brings the value that IT delivers to the forefront of a discussion, moving it away from a traditional cost focused conversation.
3. Not securing the end point
With remote work here to stay for many organisations, endpoint security has never been more crucial for the ‘work from anywhere’ workforce. Securing the technology your remote employees use can help mitigate cyber security risks and protect the organisation as a whole.
The truth is many first-generation endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions just can’t keep up with the evolving threat landscape. A good cyber security service provider should be able to offer advice about modernising your EDR, proactively reducing the organisation’s attack surface, preventing malware infections, and detecting and circumventing potential threats in real-time.
4. Insufficient data storage and inefficient data management
Data is an incredibly valuable asset to nearly all organisations and, as it has become easier to collect and leverage, issues of storing, processing, and managing massive amounts of data have also come to the forefront.
Indeed, insufficient data storage and inefficient data management can quickly become a real problem for organisations, causing computer systems to become slow, putting the company at risk of a data breach, and negatively impacting business performance.
The good news is that these challenges can all be overcome so long as the right technology and systems are put in place. It’s important for organisations to collaborate with their managed IT service provider to ensure that data is being handled in a way that is safe and still high performing.
Your service provider should also advise you about efficient and real-time monitoring of these systems, mitigating the risk of data loss.
5. Not introducing scalability and agility
Scalability typically affects a broad range of infrastructure, as it encompasses the ability to add or reduce resources such as, processing power, bandwidth, and storage. The aim of scalability is generally to keep costs to a level that matches the resources being used (and not to pay upfront for future expansion potential).
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) can help companies keep costs in-line with the level of infrastructure required at any given time since, quite simply, you pay for what you use (and can shift usage levels without disrupting service). Another key factor in choosing IaaS for scalability, is the ability to add managed services as and when they are required. However, we are now reaching a tipping point where IaaS may not be the best fit for your organisation. This is why it’s important to ask questions, e.g., do you still need a server to run your database, or can you consider Platform as a Service, or even Functions as a Service? Leveraging cloud capabilities enables greater and more granular scalability and better cost control.
Agility refers to the ability to change how you work (and the technology used in order to do so). Unfortunately, many IT departments are already working at full capacity and have neither the expertise nor time to effectively manage rapid technology shifts. This means employees must wait to take advantage of new software and systems and may feel frustrated by slow, legacy software – especially if their more agile competitors already have this new software in place.
Because agility isn’t something that all managed service providers excel at, it will be important for organisations to choose a managed service provider that is willing to interact and work with them in an active, hands-on, and responsive way.