IT Infrastructure Management - The Ultimate Guide
This guide will go over what can be considered IT infrastructure management and some of the best practices to follow for your business or organization.
As a business or organization grows, so does the need for more robust technological solutions. The administration and management of technology is considered IT infrastructure management. Setting up business level IT infrastructure can require hundreds of hours of work and knowledgeable staff to maintain. A multitude of devices and users can make up a network or office, and any significant problems or disruption in service could result in significant monetary losses.
Proper infrastructure management means the maximum amount of uptime for devices like computers, servers, or any other hardware or software that is critical to how your business operates. This guide will go over what can be considered IT infrastructure management and some of the best practices to follow for your business or organization.
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What is IT Infrastructure Management?
These days, every aspect of an organization is closely tied to some piece of technology. For all of those different pieces of technology to interact and function properly, they need to be regularly managed. IT infrastructure management is the daily control and operation of many various devices and software, which results in the proper implementation and use of all an organization's technology. A great IT infrastructure management team will ensure that necessary daily functions such as email, internet access, or client information retrieval are working when needed most.
Types of Infrastructure Management
There are three critical areas of any enterprise-level IT infrastructure. Each area is entirely different from the next, but all three must work in unison to function properly as a whole. Everything from email accounts to access to company information is handled via IT infrastructure, and one component going down can cause serious delays for the entire company. Understanding how and where technology works within your organization is key to having a successful IT infrastructure.
Devices such as routers, switches, access points, or any hardware or software that play an integral role in your employees' or clients' communication can be considered in your network. Ensuring that clients can safely communicate with your company and your employees can easily connect to the internet are vital to your organization's efficiency. Network management also means ensuring that the network does not go down and regularly monitoring the network for malicious parties or possible problems.
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No matter what type of business or organization you are running, there will be a need to store information. Whether it be internal or from clients, any information is incredibly sensitive and should be protected as thoroughly as possible.
As you grow in size, the major problem is that the more information you need to store, the more malicious parties and hackers will want that information. A storage management team will prevent and deal with attacks head-on and help with day-to-day access and make sure that, when needed, employees can easily and efficiently access necessary data.
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Anything that your company uses to improve productivity or complete a task more efficiently can be called a system. If your employees need access to specific programs, ensuring those programs are working regularly falls under systems management.
Security in an office building is another example of systems management. Say employees need keycards to access certain areas of the building. Creating, implementing, and regulating those cards would also fall to systems management. Anything that is not network-based or deals with the storage of information can be considered a system. The coordination of each of these areas could also be regarded as systems management.
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Key Infrastructure Focus Areas
One of the main hurdles most organizations run into when building IT infrastructure is thinking too broadly. The three main areas of IT infrastructure are quite general and can encompass numerous devices and services. Below, you will find more specific areas of focus that can help to divide your infrastructure into more manageable departments.
Anything from company messaging software to advanced design programs and employee scheduling is handled via software. You may have separate departments that work to accomplish these tasks, but the key to making sure those departments can correctly use that software when they need to is proper IT infrastructure management. It is also important to note that software development is outside of the scope of IT infrastructure management. Software support can be managed via infrastructure solutions, but a dedicated entity should handle the software's actual creation and implementation.
Every physical piece of technology in your business is considered hardware. Computers, servers, and security cameras are all examples of hardware found within your organization. These devices need to operate at peak performance on a daily basis and are critical to the success of your business.
In-house IT departments often have experience troubleshooting employee or customer hardware. IT infrastructure can assist with hardware support, but typically a help desk or tier 1 support department will be first to respond to hardware issues. Replacing hardware is a necessary part of any successful long term IT infrastructure. Being aware of problems before they arise and regular upgrades of hardware are vital to maximizing office productivity.
Users, computers, smartphones, client accounts, and anything that operates within your business are considered in your company network. Managing a company network is just as vital as any other part of the IT infrastructure, because the network connects all aspects of your organization. Network management consists of monitoring traffic and performing regular maintenance and scanning to protect from viruses and malware.
One of the most fundamental aspects of IT infrastructure is access. Controlling access to your organization's network is vital to the safety of company and client information. Access managers will maintain and regulate login credentials, as well as track who has access to your network and what they did while connected.
Data Storage and Retrieval
Even the smallest company is going to need to store some information. Where and how that data is stored also needs to be managed properly. Many companies utilize third-party or cloud-based storage solutions for sensitive data. These options are fine but still require someone with in-depth knowledge of the software and procedures to ensure the most efficient use of the service.
Larger organizations may have server rooms with local network accessible storage solutions. These more expensive storage options require even more regular maintenance and an added security layer, because the devices could be breached physically or even stolen. Not only does company data need to be stored safely, but it also needs to be readily available for when employees or customers may need it. Managing data storage is a two-way street that requires both securely storing information and providing data quickly.
Benefits of IT Infrastructure Management
While successfully implementing an IT infrastructure management plan can be one of the most costly and difficult things your organization can do, it can also be the most rewarding. There are numerous benefits that can be gained from the efficient use of technology. From coordinating different departments to increasing individual daily workflow, every facet of a business has something to gain from proper IT infrastructure implementation. Read on for a list of benefits and brief descriptions of how they are achieved.
When employees can easily access information and communicate between departments, more quality work can be accomplished. Without worries of data loss or annoying interruptions in services, employees can focus on their tasks at hand and be as productive as possible.
One of the main ways to increase productivity is to decrease downtime. This does not mean shorter breaks or no lunches but instead means less lost work time due to technological issues. Devices failing and human error are a part of any organization, but adequately preparing and reacting to said situations is the difference between a brilliantly implemented IT infrastructure and an office that can't get any work completed until the copier is back online.
Improve Customer Experience
The easier it is for customers to interact with your website, the more they will want to use your service. Whether your organization supplies a software as a service, or if you are simply storing past client invoices, it is imperative that the customer can easily figure how to interact with your infrastructure correctly. Your IT infrastructure is often the first interaction a client may have with your organization, whether it is your website or automated phone line. A pleasant initial experience is the easiest way to gain a return customer and is regularly achievable with an adequate IT infrastructure.
Increase Employee Confidence
Your IT infrastructure is the backbone of your entire office. No matter what your employees are doing, they will need to rely on company technology one way or another. A correctly implemented and maintained IT infrastructure gives employees the confidence that no matter the situation, the systems and services they depend on will be ready and working the way they intended. When employees can trust their infrastructure, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.
Technology touches every part of business these days, and IT infrastructure management can feel like its own entire organization sometimes. Setting up infrastructure can take tremendous amounts of time and resources but can be invaluable when done correctly. Anyone that interacts with your organization will benefit from your well-implemented infrastructure. Ensuring that both employees and clients can efficiently work within your company network will take your business to the next level.