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In the context of an IT organization, infrastructure refers to the hardware, software and other systems that are necessary for delivering IT services in accordance with service-level agreements (SLAs). IT infrastructure management includes the management of IT policies and processes, along with the equipment, data, human resources and external contacts, such as vendors or security organizations, needed to ensure that IT operations run smoothly and efficiently.
IT infrastructure management deals with the oversight of key IT infrastructure elements that are required to deliver business services. These can include software applications and networking components, but the primary focus of IT infrastructure management is typically on physical components such as computer and networking hardware and the facility itself. The benefits of good IT infrastructure management boil down to financial and operational savings. These benefits include:
Improved response times to changes in operations, disasters, and other disruptive conditions.
Proactive measures stemming from more agile processes.
Reduced financial costs from automation and better capacity planning.
Streamlined employee operations and responsibilities to create work efficiencies.
Reduction in integration and system downtime.
With IT infrastructure managers being responsible for the design, implementation, maintenance and retirement of each of the above IT infrastructure elements, it’s necessary to understand the best practices for managing them. These IT infrastructure management best practices include:
Creation of standards
Implementation of standards
IT operations management focuses on managing the daily operational tasks that are necessary to maintain the infrastructure that is used to deliver IT services. The responsibilities of IT operations control can be broken down into six basic functions:
Running solutions (back-ups and configuration)
Based on this framework, IT infrastructure management can be understood as just one aspect of the overall functionalities supported by IT operations.
Our understanding of IT infrastructure management depends on knowledge of the specific components of IT infrastructure and the most important tasks associated with managing each component. IT infrastructure management is sometimes divided into three sub-categories of management: systems management, network management and storage management.
Systems management covers a wide range of key activities within the overall context of IT infrastructure management, as it includes the administration of all IT assets normally found within a data center. A Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technical Officer (CTO) is typically responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the data center and managing the integration of new applications and third-party services into the organization's hybrid cloud environment.
Systems management activities include security-focused initiatives such as intrusion detection and prevention, or security information and event management. Log management, workload automation, configuration management and the integration of cloud-based applications and services all fall under systems management.
Network management is the discipline of managing security networks. IT security and operations analysts manage and configure networks to ensure that resources are properly allocated to applications and services where they are needed and that the quality and availability of services are maintained. Network management also includes an element of security, as IT operators must maintain visibility and transparency into the network to control the organization's security posture and protect against unauthorized access and data breaches.
Data storage space is a limited and valuable asset for IT and business organizations. Therefore, a critical aspect of IT infrastructure management is the oversight of data storage technologies and resources, such as virtualization, storage provisioning, data compression and data security. Data compression and automatic storage provisioning can reduce data processing times and improve the performance of the data center. Automation and virtualization techniques can enable businesses to reallocate storage resources where needed. Other management techniques like data replication, mirroring and security help to guard against data loss or theft.
In addition to the three main categories of IT infrastructure management, it can also be useful to understand the IT infrastructure as a composition of seven major components. IT infrastructure managers are responsible for the design, implementation, maintenance and retirement of each of these IT infrastructure elements:
Computer hardware platforms
Computer hardware includes client machines such as laptops and desktop computers along with server machines and mainframes.
Operating system platforms
The operating systems that run on computer hardware platforms are the second component of IT infrastructure. Common operating systems include Windows, UNIX, Linux and Mac OS X.
IT infrastructure management is mostly focused on managing the physical components of IT infrastructure but may exercise some oversight of the most important enterprise software applications. This typically includes applications that are critical for managing service delivery at the enterprise level, such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and others.
Data management and storage
Management and oversight of data storage components is one of the key functions of IT infrastructure management. IT organizations may be responsible for managing the physical components of data storage, such as data servers, along with the software components used to organize databases (MySQL, IBM DB2, Oracle, and others).
Networking and telecommunications platforms
The IT organization's internal network falls under the purview of IT infrastructure management. It covers everything from virtual network software (Microsoft Windows server, Cisco, etc.) to the physical telecommunications infrastructure (telephones, routers, wiring, etc.)
Internet-related infrastructure is closely tied to networking and telecommunications components of IT infrastructure. Websites that are hosted on internal or external servers, cloud-based web applications, web software development tools and web hosting services are all part of the IT infrastructure.
Consulting and system integration services
IT organizations in businesses that use legacy systems may be engaged in implementing new IT infrastructure to update legacy systems with new applications that are more powerful and robust for the modern technological setting.
Cloud service providers have changed the way that IT organizations choose to manage the infrastructure elements that are crucial for their daily activities. In the past, organizations that wanted to undergo a digital transformation had no choice but to own and operate their own IT systems. Today, thanks to the introduction and proliferation of cloud computing, it has become easier than ever for organizations to outsource infrastructure management according to one of three common models:
Infrastructure-as-a-service - In this model, an IT organization outsources its physical infrastructure and associated management needs to a third-party service provider. The provider will operate and manage networking, storage, servers and virtualization services for the IT organization.
Platform-as-a-service - In this model, an IT organization outsources its physical infrastructure and development platform to a third-party service provider. This includes networking and storage infrastructure, servers, virtualization, operating systems, middleware, and runtime.
Software-as-a-service - In the SaaS model, the IT organization accesses a finished software product through a web-based portal. On the other end, a third-party cloud service provider manages all of the IT infrastructures that are necessary to deliver the application. The SaaS model enables companies to access software applications that deliver business value without the added burden of managing and administering the software.
Today's leading IT organizations choose infrastructure management solutions that help automate and streamline processes, drive efficiency and reduce costs. Some of the most common software features include:
Capacity management and resource forecasting
Trend analysis and dashboards using data from all sources within a hybrid cloud environment
Heterogeneous environment support
Comprehensive network monitoring
Monitoring and troubleshooting of individual physical hardware assets and virtual machine
Sumo Logic is an industry-leading solution that enables IT organizations to engage in more efficient infrastructure management. With Sumo Logic, IT organizations can aggregate data in the form of log files from applications and machines across the network, visualize that data in real-time dashboards and use it to drive infrastructure management decisions.
Assessing network activity to inform resource allocation, discovering user behavior trends that inform operational decisions and getting real-time feedback on the health of virtual and physical assets are just a few of the ways that Sumo Logic empowers IT organizations to enhance their infrastructure management processes and procedures.
Reduce downtime and move from reactive to proactive monitoring.