What are the Components of IT Infrastructure?
By Andy Jonak
Your IT Infrastructure is key to your firm's success, as I've talked about throughout this blog over the years. It's something we all know, and all live by in our careers. Even after all these years of writing about it, I think it still deserves to be discussed—precisely because of that importance.
We know what IT Infrastructure is: the technologies and solutions that allow IT to perform its continuous function (some say magic) of helping the business do what it does better. But let's explore that a bit deeper. Let's talk about the components of IT infrastructure that help the company succeed. Let's look at things differently this month and talk about the components of IT infrastructure, with my perspective wrapped around it, so hear my out as I get to my point.
Firms create their strategic five-year IT plans, look at what types of server, storage, and other hardware they believe are most efficient, which architectures are best, and what types of clouds they should use. It's quite a simplification of all we do in IT, but I think you get my point. Of course, all of this is important, but let's break it down a bit further.
I look at IT infrastructure as three separate components that make up the whole, and to be clear, there can be a lot under each of these three areas, but from my perspective today, three there are, as listed below.
The Technology Components
There is a lot encompassed here. The technology includes your servers, network, storage, applications, how you access and protect your data, and manage your infrastructure and its underlying components. How it's supported is critical as well.
As you can surmise, there is a lot under this section. It includes all of the technology, no matter where it sits: on-premise, in the cloud, or a combination in a hybrid or multi-cloud approach. And for all of the buzz around it, the cloud is just another way to deliver IT & infrastructure. It's another way to provide you with the technology components needed (or platform or application) you need to keep IT humming along.
I've mentioned this before, but we use Microsoft's O365/M365 platform at Vicom because it doesn't make sense for us to do it in-house anymore, and I've talked about it extensively throughout my blog over the years.
We are a Microsoft Gold Partner that has helped firms implement and optimize Exchange and Microsoft environments for 20+ years, and it doesn't make sense for us to do it in-house for ourselves anymore. We pay Microsoft for the service each month, not be because we can't do it, but because we don't want to manage it. Let Microsoft provide the SaaS service so we can focus our people and resources elsewhere—hopefully on higher-value areas that bring value to the business.
Isn't what Microsoft provides to us still Infrastructure? Of course, it is. It's the app layer too, but they provide the underlying infrastructure as part of it. Is this important? You betcha.
The cloud is just an extension of infrastructure as no matter what you are doing when it comes to IT, it somehow requires IT infrastructure. When you boil it down, it always comes down to IT infrastructure; no matter where it sits, no matter the apps or workloads it provides, it's still infrastructure that's the foundation.
The second component is the network to tie all of your users and technology together to allow them to work seamlessly for the business's benefit. This is true for the smallest of firms to the very largest—the network ties is all together. Conceptually it's the same, but the complexity grows the bigger, more diverse, and more spread out a firm and its users are.
All firms have networking components to allow their users to access and use IT and be productive. If all of your IT is in-house, you need your internally networking components to enable your people to work seamlessly and effortlessly. Suppose your firm is working primarily in the cloud. In that case, you need to have adequate bandwidth and connections (secure, of course) for your people and IT to work effectively while giving your users the same on-premise experience. In the end, it doesn't matter as your network is what makes your IT work together.
Of course, if you are using the cloud, much of the networking technology is built into the cloud service you are using, but in the end, it's still IT infrastructure. Without a really robust and security network strategy (and the technology associated with it), your firm's IT experience will suffer.
The End User
The end user? Hear me out. The 3rd major component to IT infrastructure and its success is the end user. We have all of this technology (on-prem, could, or hybrid/multi-cloud), but what matters most? The end user being able to perform their function in the most efficient way possible. Without that, then what's the point of all of this IT?
If your IT is not enabling your end users to work effectively and productively, everything else is meaningless. It doesn't matter where your people sit; their experience and ability to use IT must be the same. This is especially true with everyone now working from home. It's a significant shift that has forced companies to change their business strategies due to the large increase in remote workers.
How will this shift in business strategy for WFH affect a firm's ability to succeed in the long term? Time will tell, but those that can give their end-users a seamless experience with IT will be those that make this successful shift to the newer way of doing business, which includes a large remote workforce—whether they like it or whether they want it or not. The end-users and their experience is everything. Without it, all of the other IT stuff we implement and I talk about is immaterial. I consider this the most essential part of the IT Infrastructure.
So I've presented you with three different components of IT Infrastructure that are important on their own, but when you look at them together, they are invaluable. A firm's IT environment relies on these three in such a way that it's hard to be successful without them. Sure, if one of the three is more robust or invested than the other, a firm can continue along and even have some success. But not nearly the success they can have when all 3 of these areas are running optimally.
That's why IT Infrastructure is so important and why the three components of IT infrastructure that I discuss here are crucial to success. I wholeheartedly believe this as it's what I've seen my 25+ years of being in the IT world. IT Infrastructure is king. Underrated at times, but king.
Until next month.