August 11th, 2021 Read Time: 7 minutes
Justin Sheil is the Content Marketing Manager at Electric. He has 5+ years experience writing about a wide range of technology topics. As part of his role at Electric, he currently functions as the head of the company’s Research & Insights division.
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More than 85% of growing businesses rely on technology to help simplify various operations, from improving communication to creating efficiencies and maximizing productivity. This means appropriately networking and optimizing technology to acquire a more flexible, secure, reliable, and convenient IT infrastructure essential for meeting business goals quickly and offering a competitive edge. Without IT infrastructure, it would not be easy to organize information and make it more operational.
But what is IT infrastructure exactly, and what does it entail? Read on to find out.
IT infrastructure refers to components needed to run and manage an enterprise IT (information technology) environment. IT infrastructure comprises both physical and virtual resources that facilitate the transfer, storage, management, and analysis of data. IT infrastructure can also provide critical services or resources to customers within the business or externally. Generally, it is a tool that allows businesses to eliminate organizational issues related to connectivity, cyber threats, and productivity.
Software application developers use IT infrastructure to enhance particular development practices, while organizations use it to help drive efficiency and value-creation when integrating technology. Hence, a typical IT infrastructure can be deployed within the organization's systems or cloud computing systems. And with a reliable, flexible, and convenient IT infrastructure, businesses can achieve the following:
Create and launch solutions to advertise swiftly.
Enhance employee efficiency.
Compile crucial business data in real-time and make swift decisions.
Offer positive customer experience through uninterrupted access to the company website or eCommerce store.
IT infrastructure combines various components that allow organizations to offer information technology solutions to employees. Whether on-premise or cloud-based, here are some essential IT infrastructure comprises the following key components:
Hardware involves the physical IT infrastructure required for delivering IT solutions. This component features data centers, routers, servers, network hubs, and computers, including mobile devices, laptops, and tablets. Typically, these are individual pieces of hardware under IT infrastructure but incorporate separate physical components on their own that support functionality: motherboard, RAM hard drives, etc.
Software is a crucial IT infrastructure component that works in conjunction with hardware. While hardware entails physical components constituting the infrastructure, the software makes up applications and programs with the interface and instructions that control hardware. Although IT infrastructure contains millions of applications, specific software categories are common in the business context. These are:
Operating systems: This software is installed on all network endpoint devices, offering an accessible user interface to facilitate computing operations.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): It is software used by organizations to track customer relationships and interactions, helping to promote sales and customer activities. Most companies focus on purpose-built, industry-explicit CRM to achieve unique organizational needs.
Security analytics: Mostly used by IT managers and security analysts, security analytics software helps monitor IT infrastructure's state and security status.
Networking facilitates connectivity between different business machines and the entire IT infrastructure. This helps promote internet access, configuration management, and unified security monitoring. Networking features all elements of internet connection ranging from switches and serves to routers, hubs, and data centers.
There are a variety of different components that can comprise an organization’s IT infrastructure. Some examples of IT infrastructure components include:
Network switches provide connectivity between the network device on a Local Area Network (LAN). The switch has several ports that connect physically to other network devices that include:
The switches allow two devices on the network to communicate with each other without necessarily forwarding the data to all the devices on the network.
Routers allow separated devices on different LANs to communicate by moving packets of data between the networks. The router determines the next stopover that will allow the network packet to get to its destination.
Firewalls are security measures at the ends of the network. It's like a guardian that defines the types of network traffic allowed into the network and what is blocked.
A firewall protects computer systems from the dangers posed by an internet connection; it’s essentially a component located between a computer or a network of computers and the internet.
Firewalls come in different types and varying difficulties depending on the traffic you want to manage. Some are simple, and others are more detailed.
A network server is best defined as another computer with more resources. The server allows various users to access and share its resources. Servers come in different configurations that include:
File server — This type of server provides a central location where all users can store files. It can also prevent access to specific files when configured correctly.
Directory server — Manages user accounts used to access the server's resources. This server type also acts as a central database of user accounts that several computers can use.
Web servers — These use the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to avail files to users using the web browser.
Other types of servers that can be used in IT infrastructure but are less common include application servers, print servers, and database servers.
IT infrastructure defines how businesses design and structure their IT components to enhance performance, scalability, cost-efficiency, and management. This makes it readily available in different types, enabling organizations and IT managers to choose the most preferred option based on the nature and size of the business. Here are common types of IT infrastructure:
A traditional IT infrastructure consists of typical hardware and software components such as data centers, computers, and business application software solutions. This infrastructure requires more power, resources, and physical space compared to other types of IT infrastructure. Besides, traditional IT infrastructure is usually installed on-premise and solely designed for company-only or private use.
Cloud IT infrastructure refers to components and resources required for cloud computing. It is similar to traditional IT infrastructure, but gives end-users access to infrastructure over the internet. Cloud infrastructure also allows enterprises to use their IT infrastructure without on-premise installation. Unlike traditional IT infrastructure, cloud infrastructure limits the use of physical systems. Alternatively, it offers virtualization that connects to physical servers offered and maintained by a service provider, regardless of location.
Hyperconverged IT infrastructure is a type of IT infrastructure that allows businesses to manage their network, data storage, and compute resources from a central interface. This type of IT infrastructure offers unified software-defined and data storage solutions to help support advanced workloads with scalable designs on industry-specific hardware.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a cloud computing provider, allowing businesses to rent computer and storage servers in the cloud. IaaS delivers exceptional compute, storage, and networking solutions on-demand, mainly on a pay-as-you-go basis. Besides, all cloud computing services are provided over the internet. This means end-users can measure and manage their resources on an as-needed basis, as well as reduce expenditure on demanding workloads.
Since 2010, IaaS has remained a popular computing and standard abstraction model for different workloads. Although new technologies have emerged and introduced features such as serverless infrastructure, IaaS remains foundational and preferred by many organizations.
Here are some ways infrastructure as a service can benefit businesses today:
Pay-as-you-go: IaaS charges companies based on what they use, unlike traditional infrastructure, where end-users have to pay upfront fees before using servers.
Speed: Infrastructure as a service enables end-users to access small or considerable resources within the shortest time possible, ultimately test and prove ideas quickly.
Availability: IaaS can be accessed from any location, making it a more readily available and resilient cloud application than traditional IT infrastructure.
Improved performance: With the extensive geographical footprint of IaaS providers, enterprises can deliver apps and services closer to their users and reduce latency.
Scalability: IaaS has limitless capacity and the ability to scale resources automatically or with less supervision; hence, simplifying the process of moving from one application or workload to several ones.
As the world continues to navigate the complexities of the hybrid workforce, choosing the proper IT infrastructure for your business can be challenging. At Electric, we can help you select the IT infrastructure that meets your needs and can scale efficiently.