From small companies to multinationals, from independent professionals to entire countries: every organizational unit needs an IT infrastructure as Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence advance in companies.
Developing an internal IT infrastructure is essential for an organization to be able to competently provide Information Technology (IT) solutions and services to partners, customers, and its teams, in addition to automating processes and ensuring the security of confidential data.
In this guide, we will explain step by step how to set up and start managing an IT infrastructure.
Are you interested in this subject? Check it out and clear your doubts!
What is an IT infrastructure?
An IT infrastructure is a group of components that work together to develop, test, control and support a company’s internal and external operations.
The infrastructure must be regularly updated according to technological advances and new business tech trends. That way, its components will continue to be reliable, secure, and able to help the company achieve its business goals.
Keeping it up-to-date also protects the company from cyber-attacks, downtime and other events that disrupt its daily operations.
How does the IT infrastructure work?
An IT infrastructure is not built from scratch. The entire IT ecosystem is made up of software solutions, hardware and network connections that work together simultaneously and complement each other. Below, you can better understand how the three main components of IT infrastructure work.
Hardware encompasses the physical components of an IT infrastructure, such as personal computers, data centers, switches, servers, routers and all other equipment needed to support the functioning of devices and machines.
The facilities used to house, power and cool a data center can also be considered part of the IT infrastructure hardware.
Software refers to all programs and applications used by a business to provide services to customers and to use in its internal workings.
A company’s software concerns range from the operating system your network will run on to the productivity tools you and your team need for daily office life.
Here, it is important to assess the company’s needs and look for tools and software that help and streamline its processes.
Network components are essential for establishing communication between all devices in an IT infrastructure. This covers a wide range of important operations, from internet connection to cloud file storage solution and security measures.
A communicative and secure network is extremely important for the IT infrastructure. Its various parts need to be able to communicate with each other efficiently to ensure that data is transferred securely and quickly from one device to another.
What are the types of IT infrastructure?
There are basically two types: traditional infrastructure and cloud infrastructure. Understand how they differ and which one fits your company.
With a traditional infrastructure, the components such as data centers, data storage and other equipment are owned by the company and managed in its own physical facilities. With all devices housed under one roof, it can be simpler to gain access to the proper data.
However, traditional infrastructure requires a significant amount of free space on the deployment site and sufficient storage capacity from the devices themselves. For this reason, developing and installing this type of infrastructure can be expensive for the vast majority of companies.
Cloud infrastructure is being used by a growing number of companies. Its big difference to the traditional model is that the cloud model houses all data centers, software solutions and data management on the internet.
All these processes are outsourced by companies that offer IT solutions in the digital environment, while your team can focus on other aspects critical to the company’s innovation. As a result, you don’t have to spend as much money buying hardware and data centers to manage your IT infrastructure.
Furthermore, there is no concern about data limits or the risk of losing them in cases of breakdowns and technical problems on the machines. The data is stored and available online for authorized employees.
Which products and services are most used?
The best-suited products and services for a company’s technology infrastructure depend on many factors, including the size of your business, the age of your existing infrastructure, its capacity, and your business objectives. Below, see some of the main products and services.
Hardware and software inventories
Many companies do not keep track of what they have on hand, and this can be a risk. Without understanding what software you are running, there can be no guarantee that you are monitoring results. Likewise, the execution of hardware components is also impaired.
Therefore, one of the many IT infrastructure services that a company should look into is a service provider for software and hardware inventory.
Hardware inventory includes details about memory, operating systems, manufacturers, device types, and peripherals. Software inventory focuses on details about software detected on the network, grouped by volume and software type.
Once you have hardware and software inventories, you have the relevant information that helps your team make important decisions. This can facilitate, for example, the adoption of data science methods.
To manage a network of systems, an organization needs to adopt a structured environment in which it is possible to identify key tasks, standardize processes and optimize the team’s working time. That’s what frameworks are for.
They are invaluable resources for managing and governing IT services. Tools like these can ensure that the IT infrastructure stays aligned with other business processes and delivers maximum value to the business. COBIT and ITIL are two of the most popular IT governance and management frameworks.
COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) is an IT governance framework that takes a high-level view of the enterprise, business goals, IT and information management.
However, it is also necessary to have a bottom-up framework to manage the delivery of IT services — this is where ITIL can be useful. ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework that focuses on the management, delivery and maintenance of IT services.
Asset depreciation control
IT Asset Management (known by its acronym ITAM) is the end-to-end tracking and control of IT assets to ensure that each asset is properly used, maintained, updated and disposed of at the end of its lifecycle.
An IT asset is any piece of information, software or hardware that an organization uses in its activities. Hardware assets, for example, include physical computing equipment such as physical servers in data centers, desktop computers, mobile devices, laptops, keyboards and printers.
Software assets, on the other hand, include applications for which licenses are typically issued per user or machine, as well as software systems and databases built using open-source resources. Software assets also include cloud-based assets such as Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.
A system for the IT Asset Management (ITAM) process should involve at least the following steps:
- Asset identification — The first step in IT asset management is to create a detailed inventory of all assets. This facilitates identification and ensures assets are optimized for efficiency;
- Tracking — Involves the use of IT infrastructure monitoring software. Information collected includes financial (asset costs), contractual (warranties, licenses and agreements) and inventory data (location and condition of physical assets);
- Maintenance — Involves repairing, upgrading, and replacing assets. All maintenance activities are recorded as part of the ITAM process so that data can be used to assess asset performance.
The main objective of the ITAM system is to ensure that IT resources are used efficiently and effectively. It also helps optimize costs by reducing the total number of assets in use and extending the useful life of those assets by avoiding costly upgrades.
Due to cybercrime, having information security systems has become essential for modern companies. Strong security protections help minimize the risk of a security breach or data loss caused by attacks.
A strong cybersecurity plan is one that addresses all vulnerabilities that hackers can attack. This requires implementing appropriate cybersecurity tools and services to keep the infrastructure secure.
The list of protections you should be using is long, but here are some of the most important ones to add to your company’s IT infrastructure architecture:
- Antivirus and antimalware software — Antivirus software will alert you to malware and virus infestations on your machine. It also checks your emails and tells you if there is a harmful link or attachment;
- Cloud backup software — Backups help companies recover data that has been lost or stolen due to system failures, accidental deletions, natural disasters, or theft. The more recent the backup, the faster and easier it is to recover;
- Firewall — Is considered the foundation of cybersecurity solutions as it helps to stop or slow down an attack. It is the most important tool your company can have. A firewall keeps an eye on network traffic or attempts to connect and blocks those that could harm your website or web application.
How to create an IT infrastructure project?
You already know that there are several components of an IT infrastructure, but perhaps you are not yet familiar with the concept of “infrastructure design”.
Basically, the IT infrastructure project is a plan that maps out what is needed for a company to provide information technology services consistent with its goals. This is what ensures a profitable and sustainable IT infrastructure in the long term.
Ensuring that the infrastructure is reliable and secure is critical not only to the sustainability of your business but also to its scalability. Taking shortcuts in order to save money in the short term is not wise. So, keep an eye out for tips on how to create an IT infrastructure project from start to finish.
Have a company diagnosis
Creating an effective IT infrastructure project is not just about investing in technology. It is, first of all, about understanding the needs and vulnerabilities for the proper functioning of your infrastructure.
Invest in hardware
It will then be possible to select the best hardware solutions to allow the previously identified gaps to be filled. It may be time to replace obsolete machines and adopt Hardware as a Service (HaaS) to optimize costs.
Plan the cabling infrastructure
Installation of new hardware depends on planning the cabling infrastructure. Therefore, this is a step that precedes the use of new equipment and tools. The network design must be done right from the start, otherwise, there is a huge chance of future problems and extra costs.
Make the physical connection
Once the cabling has been planned, the servers and hardware must be connected. All IT infrastructure components must be well connected to avoid downtime and errors.
Cloud infrastructure is an evolution of the traditional model, especially considering the benefits related to the speed and accessibility of data. So it pays to migrate information and processes to web-based solutions.
How to manage the IT infrastructure?
The Information Technology infrastructure management requires a holistic thinking that takes into account all the components involved. If you don’t know where to start, check out some steps in the list below.
Optimize your team
Building an effective team within your IT department is another best practice. Chances are you won’t start from scratch, which is fine. Understand who excels in what style of environment and learn the strengths of each member of your team.
When your team feels empowered and is working in roles they personally enjoy, the business as a whole will perform better.
Invest in risk analysis
IT security risk assessments focus on identifying the threats facing your information systems, networks and data and assessing the potential consequences you would face if these adverse events occur.
Risk assessments should be performed regularly (semi-annually or annually) and whenever major changes occur in your organization: for example, when a leader decides to implement a new technology or when employees move to remote work.
Only after identifying vulnerabilities in your IT systems and processes will you be able to implement controls to minimize or eliminate vulnerabilities and threats.
Controls can be technical, such as computer software, cryptography, or tools to detect hackers or other intrusions, or related to security policies and physical controls.
Do IT governance
IT governance is the method by which decisions are made around IT investments. The goal is to enable the investment and use of IT resources to achieve the company’s goals and objectives.
Without IT governance, companies can face poor protection of sensitive data, damage to critical services, and substandard security methods. Misalignment between business strategy and IT also weakens communication and transparency in risk mitigation.
Here are some best practices for creating a solid IT infrastructure and effectively exploiting its resources:
- Understand what the goals are for IT processes. Before putting a plan into action, determine what success means for your organization, including how IT must align with your overarching business goals;
- Always keep your business goals in mind when formulating your IT objectives. Your technology practices should elevate and support your overall organizational goals, promoting your ideas as a cohesive entity;
- Define team roles. Each IT staff member must understand their responsibilities and how they must work together to achieve their organization’s goals;
- Prioritize risk analysis at the heart of your IT infrastructure management to stay one step ahead of threats.
Whenever the company implements a new IT strategy or feature, it needs to train employees so they can use it. Likewise, when you bring a new employee on board, they also need training.
Make sure all employees are trained in your processes and keep them updated with all legislative changes.
How to hire IT infrastructure talents?
While the technology industry is growing faster than ever, so is competition among companies to hire skilled IT staff.
Hiring in the technology world is challenging, but it can become easier when you know which practices can generate the best results and which platforms can drive the process. Check out the best practices below.
Evaluate needed IT infrastructure Jobs
The first step in hiring IT talent is to map out the roles that future hires will play in the company. It’s a kind of diagnosis of what gaps new employees will fill in your team. Here are some of the most common IT professionals within the industry:
- Cybersecurity specialist — Deploys tools, policies, and training to ensure the organization’s data is secure;
- Systems analyst — Has a good understanding of how the hardware and software of the various IT tools work to choose the right configurations your business needs;
- Programmer — Responsible for writing software that can solve various problems in your company;
- Web developer — Creates web apps and websites;
- Technical support — Handles any emergency hardware and software issues that employees may experience when using IT tools;
- Network engineer — Responsible for designing, deploying and maintaining local and wide area networks that your IT equipment depends on to communicate.
When hiring IT professionals, regardless of role, it’s critical to look for experience and technical expertise. While a degree is important, your company shouldn’t overlook potential hires simply because candidates don’t have a college degree in the technology field. Some of the best talents can be self-taught.
Make jobs interesting for the candidates
You can choose to hire in the remote model if the work that the future employee does not require him to be physically present. For example, hiring a remote web developer makes more sense than hiring a remote network engineer. It’s a way to make the vacancy interesting for more professionals.
Corporate benefits also play an important role. Many industry-leading companies are implementing, for example, insurance plans that cover medical, dental, and eye care costs for employees.
Other benefits include discounts at gyms, financial bonuses, and flexible schedules. All these benefits make IT jobs more interesting and help build an excellent reputation as an employer brand around your company.
Choose the recruitment channels
Once you have a good estimate of what type of candidate you’d like to hire, it’s time to decide where you want to post vacancies and capture qualified candidates. Check out some suggestions of sources to get candidates:
- Company website — One of the simplest things you can do when looking for a new hire is to simply post the job on your own website.
- Internal referrals — Employee referrals remain one of the top recruiting channels for finding qualified candidates, as staff typically only refer people if they know they would be a good fit for the role and company;
- Social networks — LinkedIn has become one of the most popular sources for finding qualified professionals. However, networks like Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram are also becoming more and more popular;
- Recruitment agencies — A recruitment agency is a great way to find hires, albeit with a significant associated cost.
Structure the selection process
Keep in mind that lengthy application and recruitment processes can scare off good professionals. Also, avoid selection being an exhaustive process. Enhance the candidate experience with brief interviews and well-crafted activities.
Where to start? IT infrastructure checklist
Now that you know what IT infrastructure is and how its main components work, check out a summary of the main actions your company needs to start investing in a solid infrastructure.
Creating an IT infrastructure project
- understand what your IT infrastructure already has and what gaps it still needs to fill in order to function properly;
- replace obsolete machines and invest in hardware as a service (HaaS);
- plan the cabling structure;
- perform the physical connections of the infrastructure components;
- invest in migrating services to the cloud.
Investing in IT management
- have a highly qualified IT team to run the department’s processes;
- perform a risk analysis to map IT infrastructure vulnerabilities;
- invest in IT governance to make informed decisions about IT investments;
- train employees to stay productive in their respective roles.
Hiring IT talents
- assess the necessary vacancies in the IT infrastructure;
- make jobs interesting for talent through benefits;
- choose the main recruitment channels;
- structure a selection process.
We have reached the end of our guide on how to set up and manage IT infrastructure. We hope the tips above will help your team keep information technologies up to date with market trends and demands.
Want to learn more about how to invest in Digital Transformation? Check out our content on the topic!