What is IT Infrastructure?
Information Technology (IT) infrastructure refers to a foundation or framework composed of virtual and physical resources that support a system or an organization; resources supporting the storage, flow, processing and data analysis. Furthermore, IT infrastructure can also be termed as a cluster of hardware, software, network and facilities that are used to develop, monitor, test, control, deliver and support IT services. Infrastructure can be centralized within a data centre, or it may be decentralized and spread across several data centres which are controlled by an organization or third party facilities and providers.
Similarly, enterprise IT infrastructure is the collection of various components required for the existence, operation and management of an enterprise IT environment. This infrastructure can be deployed within the organization’s facilities, deployed within a cloud computing system or a combination of both.
How is an IT infrastructure created?
To build a data centre, organizations usually follow a formalized process starting with analyzing and assessing business goals and making architectural designs eventually leading to the building and implementing the design and optimizing the infrastructure. This entire process requires detailed expertise in quality construction techniques, component section, and data centre building design.
With the world advancing with each passing year, the way IT infrastructures are created is improvised. The manual traditional methods require enormous optimization, integration and management effort. Today’s infrastructure consists of pre-integrated and pre-optimized storage and network equipment that enables a person to deploy the IT hardware and virtualization platforms into a single system. Moreover, this hyper-converged infrastructure is an advanced approach that can be deployed, expanded and managed easily without the need to hire more workforce.
Layers of an IT infrastructure
IT infrastructure consists of a set of layers that enable it to work smoothly. A common feature of each provided layer is that it completely depends upon the proper and timely operation of the layer available beneath it. For example, an application might depend on the proper operation of a remote service availed by a person but it also depends on the condition of the operating system used by the person.
The components in this layer include hard-wired circuitry, cables, mechanical switches, non-programmable discrete components, physical memory, disk drive controller circuitry and other infrastructure which is either non-programmable or provides volatile storage. User interaction with the hardware layer is limited to physical manipulation of buttons, audio and video I/O and power switch.
The firmware layer consists of various hardware components that are field-programmable. The components of this layer consist of boot configuration parameters stored in Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS), field-replaceable microcode and boot loader code. The proper operation of this layer depends on the hardware layer.
The system later consists of various software required to communicate and control with the firmware layer. This layer provides a common set of standard and publicly documented system calls for the further layers to build upon. The components in this software layer consist of device drivers, configuration files, kernel and the disk-resident boot loader code.
The service layer consists of various central and backend services that provide computation and data storage for the application layer. The components of this service layer include database, web, directory, mail, compute and file servers.
The application layer consists of various software components that users predominantly interact with. For instance, this is also called the operating system layer in a real-time environment. The application layer consists of various components including compilers, office productivity tools, mail readers, shell command interpreters, web browsers, network control utilities, file system and file manipulation programs.
Regardless of how an IT infrastructure is created; it must provide a suitable platform for all the necessary functions and applications as per the requirement of an organization or an individual. The software tools available in the infrastructure must enable IT, administrators, to view the entire lot as a single entity as well as access and configure the operating details of the devices available in the infrastructure.
The infrastructure management is divided into multiple categories like Building Management System (BMS) and system management. The BMS provides tools that enable a person to report on data centre facilities parameters including efficiency, temperature and cooling operation, power usage and physical security activities. System management consists of tools that enable a person to configure and manage servers, network and storage devices. Proper management of the IT infrastructure enables a person to not only optimize resources for different workloads but also easily understand and handle the impact of any changes on interrelated resources.