This article is a sequel to Monday, 3 October, 2023 edition on the topic “Building A Secure IT Infrastructure for Your Business.” In the previous publication, I explained an IT infrastructure as “all the necessary components that businesses use to manage their internal operations and provide to services to customers”. I went on to identify the components of an IT infrastructure to include the hardware, software, network resources that are required to maintain, operate, and administer a corporate IT system. Beyond building a modern IT infrastructure, the focus must be on how to manage it, so this article provides such an insight with some standard practices.
IT infrastructure management is about the management of hardware and software resources, the alignment of digital processes, systems, and policies required to deliver business services. IT infrastructure management focusses on three key components which are the systems, storage and the networks in both the physical and virtual environments.
Systems management deals with software and hardware and all physical IT assets normally found within a data center. A robust system is essential for an optimized IT infrastructure and should be managed with regular updates to ensure that it is resilient and bolster an organization’s over all data security. Systems management activities include integration of cloud-based applications, workload automation and configuration management. Security-focused initiatives such as intrusion detection and prevention, or security information and event management also form part of systems management.
Network management is concerned with the design, implementation and the management of connectivity between different devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, wireless access points systems and locations. A low-latency network which is designed to process a very high volume of data messages in a real-time communication with a minimal delay or latency plays a crucial role in an optimized IT infrastructure. In this regard, organizations can enhance user experiences and effectively respond to dynamic operational demands by boosting overall system efficiency while protecting the network against unauthorized access and data breaches.
Storage management is a critical aspect of IT infrastructure management and concerned with data storage and retrieval. This includes physical storage devices and cloud-based storage solutions. Organizations require high-performance storage systems to accommodate scalability demands while maintaining seamless operations and data integrity.
Objectives of IT Infrastructure Management
The essence of IT infrastructure is leveraging technology to improve business performance, protect data and stay competitive in the global technological landscape. To achieve this objective entails planning, maintenance, and the optimization of IT infrastructure components to ensure they function seamlessly. To guarantee security, flexibility and sustainability of an organization’s IT infrastructure, its objective must be defined by considering future prospects, resources and the associated risks of managing the infrastructure.
There are some common challenges associated with an IT infrastructure management and require best practices to navigate them to support business growth and sustainability. These challenges include cybersecurity threats, managing software development complexity, ensuring scalability, optimizing data management, integrating seamless cloud solutions and implementing effective automation processes.
IT Infrastructure Management Practices
Along with the design and implementation, the maintenance of an IT infrastructure requires numerous strategies and best practices to ensure resilient and operational efficiency. These practices are as follows:
–Enhance Cybersecurity Measures
To combat cyber threats, organizations must adopt a proactive approach. This should take the form of regular update of security protocols, creating awareness and educating employees on best practices and investing in cutting-edge and robust cybersecurity technologies to protect the organization’s IT infrastructure against potential breaches and data losses.
–Plan for Scalability & Invest in the Cloud
Scalability means an IT infrastructure should be able to handle increasing workloads without experiencing downtime, crashes, or other performance issues. Scalability of systems can be done by updating operating systems, installing new software or applications and configuring network settings to ensure that the upgraded assets can communicate with the existing equipment and applications. A well-defined scalability strategy must be in line with the objectives of an IT infrastructure. In this regard, investment in cloud resources can be a valuable asset to scale up demands.
Concerning cloud services, an organization can outsource its IT infrastructure management to a third-party in what is known as managed IT services according to one of three common models, which are the infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service. managed IT services will help to offload routine tasks, gain access to specialized expertise and drive innovation.
-Automation & DevOps Implementation
DevOps it is an integration of software development(dev) and operations(Ops). This can be done through Infrastructure as Code (IaC) which involves provisioning (creating and setting up) of an IT infrastructure through a code instead of manual processes. Automation project through provisioning and configuration (a process of maintaining computer systems, servers, applications, network devices and other IT infrastructure components) empowers an organization to respond swiftly to changing demands while maintaining high accuracy. Automation tools carry out complex workflows, simplify the deployment of new applications, updates and patches across the entire IT infrastructure. By harnessing automation tools, organizations can streamline routine tasks, reduce manual interventions and human errors.
Network optimization involves designing, configuring and monitoring various components to enhance data transfer speeds. As an integral part of IT infrastructure management, network optimization ensures optimal communication between various devices, applications, systems and stakeholders. Organizations can also implement redundant network paths, failover backups and efficient data replication(copying) technology for real time recovery in event of network disruptions. By leveraging advanced technologies, organizations can prioritize critical applications and allocate network resources prudently.
-Real-time Monitoring & Predictive Maintenance
Artificial intelligence (AI) can provide real-time data to predict scalability, conduct performance monitoring and detection of anomalies in an IT infrastructure. Thus, artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to forecast future resource demands based on which an organization scales up its IT infrastructure to withstand workload fluctuations and ensure optimal performance. AI-powered monitoring of various components of an IT infrastructure can also help to identify and address anomalies before they cause downtime and disruption. This can significantly reduce the risk of data loss and maintain high-speed memory performance.
-Prioritize Software Development
There is also the need to be abreast with the latest software developments and their compatibility with existing IT infrastructure. Compatibility requires thorough testing procedures and agile methodologies to adapt to changing software landscapes. Similarly, business owners will need to implement data management frameworks and tools to organize, secure, and utilize data effectively. To optimize data management and minimize inefficiencies will require regular review (data) storage practices.
IT infrastructure management is in evolving and as organizations have embraced digitalization to support their business operations, they equally have the responsibility to instill the culture of best practices. In this regard, organizations must enforce effective policies, risk management frameworks and implement scalability strategies which will empower them to harness the transformative potential of an IT infrastructure to propel business growth and sustainability.
Bernard is a Chartered Accountant with over 14 years of professional and industry experience in Financial Services Sector and Management Consultancy. He is the Managing Partner of J.S Morlu (Ghana) an international consulting firm providing Accounting, Tax, Auditing, IT Solutions and Business Advisory Services to both private businesses and government.
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