What is IT Infrastructure?
An organization's IT infrastructure includes all of the hardware, software, and network resources that are necessary to deliver IT services within the organization. IT infrastructure can be used to deliver services or resources within an organization, or externally, to the organization's customers. IT infrastructure is used by software application developers to enable their specific development methodology, or by many other types of organizations as a means of driving efficiency and value-creation through adoption of technology.
IT infrastructure components can be deployed, organized and implemented in a variety of ways. A typical IT infrastructure may include some or all of the following components.
Hardware: Hardware refers to the physical IT infrastructure needed for delivering IT services. This category includes data centers, servers, network hubs, routers, computers (as well as laptops, tablets, mobile devices and other "network endpoints"). These are all individual pieces of hardware in the context of an IT infrastructure, but each of these devices contains its own physical components that support its function (hard drives, RAM, motherboard, etc.). At the level of IT infrastructure, we need to know what machines we have available and what their capabilities are to support effective IT management.
Software: IT software and hardware go hand-in-hand. While hardware refers to the machines that make up the infrastructure, software applications provide the interface and instructions that make our hardware do what we want it to. There are millions of applications that can form part of the IT infrastructure, but there are certain categories of software that we see commonly implemented in the business context:
- Operating system software is installed on network endpoint devices and provides an accessible user interface for performing computing operations.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software is used by many organizations to track customer relationships and interactions, helping to facilitate and improve sales and customer service activities. Many organizations use a purpose-built, industry-specific CRM to meet their unique business needs.
- Security analytics software can be used by IT operators and security analysts to monitor the health and security status of the IT infrastructure.
Networking: Networking enables connectivity between business machines, enabling important functions such as internet access, integrated security monitoring, configuration management, device access management and other objectives and services.
Managing IT Infrastructure with ITOM, ITSM and ITAM
As computers have become increasingly important in many business models across industry verticals, IT organizations have expanded their IT infrastructure and concurrently developed methodologies and best-practice frameworks for managing IT infrastructure. We can readily identify three areas of management that have evolved from the need to maximize the value generated through IT assets: ITOM, ITSM and ITAM.
IT Operations Management (ITOM)
ITOM refers to the set of tools and processes used to maintain the IT infrastructure and ensure its availability, reliability and effectiveness on behalf of the business. IT operations managers set policies that govern how IT infrastructure will be serviced and supported and how issues with IT infrastructure should be resolved. ITOM includes functions such as network asset discovery, operational intelligence and data collection, network event management, orchestration and cloud management.
IT Service Management (ITSM)
The managerial discipline known as ITSM emerged from the need to better align the services offered by the IT organization with the needs of the business. IT services include a huge number of activities, from resetting passwords to configuring hardware for users. ITSM includes all of the activities needed to manage IT services throughout their entire life cycle. The IT service life cycle begins with a strategic decision to implement a given service, and is followed by service design, creation, deployment and eventual service operation.
IT Asset Management (ITAM)
As organizations accumulate a greater number of IT assets, they face a growing need to manage and optimize the purchase, deployment, utilization, and end-of-life disposition of those assets. This is exactly what the discipline of ITAM is all about - life cycle management for IT infrastructure, including both hardware and software. IT asset management combines three disciplines to achieve this:
Financial - The core objective of ITAM is to optimize IT expenses. This means getting the best value-for-money when purchasing new IT infrastructure, ensuring that new IT investments are cost-justified and recovering costs when possible through the end-of-life disposal process.
Inventory - IT asset managers maintain control and oversight of the IT infrastructure, including an inventory of IT assets. Accurate inventory helps IT organizations make informed purchasing decisions and identify opportunities to negotiate for bulk purchase discounts when purchasing IT infrastructure.
Contractual - IT asset managers oversee management of software license agreements, cloud service agreements and other contracts related to IT infrastructure. The objective here is to minimize waste (unused licenses, etc.) and maintain compliance with agreed service levels.
What is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)?
One of the main barriers to the establishment of IT infrastructure is the cost associated with purchasing new equipment. For businesses that rely on IT infrastructure for their core functions, it is expensive to expand IT infrastructure by leasing a data center, purchasing physical hardware such as servers and network endpoints, and configuring and maintaining a network.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a model of cloud service delivery where IT organizations can purchase virtualized computing resources from a third-party provider and access them over the internet. These resources typically include networking, storage space, servers, and virtual computing environemtsn where the customer can deploy applications or run workloads of their choosing.
Rather than purchasing, configuring and maintaining the IT infrastructure needed to support a workload, a business can lease the required IT infrastructure from a cloud services provider on an on-demand, pay-as-you-go basis.Infrastructure-as-a-Service is enabling more companies to access more computing power at a lower price point than ever before. Some of the best-known cloud service providers that offer IaaS include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace Open Cloud and Digital Ocean.
IT Infrastructure and Cybersecurity
As organizations increase the number of applications that they deploy in cloud, it can become more difficult to manage and correlate security events on the network to effectively respond to incidents and identify security threats. Sumo Logic's offers a security analytics platform that pulls event logs from everywhere in your IT infrastructure and integrates them into a single dashboard, streamlining the process of monitoring your security posture and investigating potential threats.