ITSM for high-velocity teams

Understanding IT infrastructure: What is it and why is it important?

Information technology (IT) infrastructure is the backbone that supports business functions so operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Without technology infrastructure, businesses couldn’t store or process information securely, scale operations, or protect against cyber threats. It would also severely compromise communication, which would affect a business’s internal operations, including coordination among employees and departments and external relations with customers, suppliers, and partners. This potentially leads to a loss of trust and business opportunities.

This article will define IT infrastructure and its components, discuss why it’s important, and highlight how to optimize your IT infrastructure for streamlined digital operations. 

What is IT infrastructure?

IT infrastructure is the foundation for deploying, operating, and managing a company’s technology resources and applications. It’s the collection of hardware, software, networks, facilities, and related services that deliver IT operations

IT infrastructure components include servers, storage systems, networking devices, operating systems, databases, and other software applications. IT infrastructure underpins nearly every aspect of modern business operations. 

Importance of IT infrastructure

Networking essential hardware and software components effectively ensures that operations happen smoothly, efficiently, and securely. An effective incident management workflow is crucial in maintaining this smooth operation.

Business agility and competitive advantage

IT infrastructure helps companies adapt to market changes and maintain a competitive edge. This agility allows them to rapidly deploy new services, scale operations to meet fluctuating demands, and harness real-time data for informed decision-making.

Innovation and cloud technologies

Cloud technologies are a catalyst for innovation. Cloud computing supports cutting-edge applications and services, from AI and machine learning to the Internet of Things. It accomplishes this without significant upfront investment in physical hardware or lengthy deployment cycles while accessing resources and services on demand. Additionally, it enables scalable solutions that you can adjust according to business needs, thereby driving business growth by allowing organizations to respond quickly to market demands and opportunities.

Components of IT infrastructure

IT infrastructure includes the following elements:

  • Hardware consists of servers, computers, routers, switches, and storage systems.
  • Software includes operating systems, applications, and problem management tools.
  • Networking comprises routers, switches, and cables.
  • Data centers are facilities housing critical IT equipment and support infrastructure, including power, cooling, and security systems.
  • Cloud services encompass remote computing services offering scalable IT resources over the internet, such as storage and processing power.

Hardware components

Hardware elements essential for IT infrastructure include the following:

  • Servers provide resources such as network storage and application processing.
  • Storage devices comprise hard drives and solid-state drives.
  • Networking equipment includes routers, switches, and cabling.

Software components

Software aspects integral to IT infrastructure functionality include the following programs:

  • Operating systems are the foundation for hardware operations and application execution.
  • Databases organize, store, and facilitate access to large volumes of data.
  • Middleware is a connective layer for communication and data exchange between software applications.

Network infrastructure

Network infrastructure supports IT operations with smooth transmission and data transfer between devices and systems. It includes physical and virtual components, such as routers, switches, cables, wireless access points, protocols, and services.

Data centers and cloud services

Data centers are physical facilities that ensure high availability, redundancy, and optimal operating conditions for IT assets. Cloud services complement data centers by offering virtualized online resources for on-demand scalability and flexibility. Together, they support business continuity, disaster recovery, and the dynamic allocation of IT resources which helps companies efficiently meet their computing needs and adapt to changing demands.

Security in IT Infrastructure

IT infrastructure security acts as a critical defense against cyber threats and data breaches. Robust security protocols protect sensitive data and maintain the integrity and availability of IT services. This includes authentication and authorization systems, intrusion detection and prevention applications, and encryption.

Types of IT Infrastructure

Traditional (on-premises), cloud computing, and hybrid are the three primary IT infrastructure models.

Traditional IT infrastructure

Traditional on-premises infrastructure hosts all hardware and software within a physical space. It offers maximum control and security and suits companies with strict regulatory compliance needs.

Cloud IT infrastructure

Cloud IT infrastructure, particularly the public cloud, relies on third-party providers to host IT resources remotely. It offers scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.

For example, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides virtualized computing resources over the Internet. A cloud provider manages the physical infrastructure. The client provisions and manages the virtual resources, such as machines, operating systems, and applications.

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is a related process. IaC is an IT infrastructure management process that applies best practices from DevOps software development to the management of public cloud infrastructure resources. It uses machine-readable definition files to set up and control elements such as networks, virtual machines, load balancers, and connection topologies.

Hybrid IT infrastructure

The hybrid model combines traditional and cloud infrastructure. It allows companies to leverage the cloud’s scalability and flexibility while keeping sensitive operations on-premises.

Optimize your IT infrastructure with Jira Service Management

Jira Service Management enhances the efficiency and responsiveness of your IT services. In both data center and cloud plans, Jira Service Management caters to diverse organizational needs and provides flexible deployment options.

With Jira Service Management, you can streamline the setup and management of modern infrastructure with ITSM templates. Reduce manual tasks through automated workflows to manage requests, incidents, and changes more effectively. Scale IT service management by leveraging modern incident and problem management capabilities that adapt as your business grows. 

Jira Service Management ensures smooth collaboration across teams for a unified response to service requests and incidents.  You can integrate it with cloud infrastructure services using a dedicated management connector, which allows for the utilization of pre-approved, secure, and regulated cloud resources through a service catalog feature.

IT infrastructure: Frequently asked questions

What are examples of IT infrastructure?

Examples of IT infrastructure include servers for processing and managing data, routers and switches for directing internet traffic, and storage devices such as hard drives and solid-state drives for data storage. 

Networking components such as LANs (local area networks) and WANs (wide area networks) connect devices and facilitate communication. Data centers house IT equipment and support infrastructure; cloud services provide scalable IT resources over the Internet.

What is the difference between traditional and cloud IT infrastructure?

The difference between traditional and cloud IT infrastructure is their deployment models and resource management. Traditional IT infrastructure relies on on-premises hardware and software. Physical servers and devices within company facilities store and manage a company’s data and applications. 

In contrast, cloud IT infrastructure employs cloud computing services, where third-party providers supply storage, computing power, and applications remotely.

How can businesses optimize their IT infrastructure?

Businesses can optimize their IT infrastructure by regularly assessing and upgrading outdated hardware and software. Implementing scalable and flexible solutions, such as cloud computing and virtualization, can help adjust resources according to demand, enhancing flexibility and reducing costs.