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IT infrastructure refers to the composite hardware, software, network resources and services required for the existence, operation and management of an enterprise IT environment.
IT infrastructure allows an organization to deliver IT solutions and services to its employees, partners and/or customers and is usually internal to an organization and deployed within owned facilities.
IT infrastructure consists of all components that somehow play a role in overall IT and IT-enabled operations. It can be used for internal business operations or developing customer IT or business solutions.
Typically, a standard IT infrastructure consists of the following components:
This is the “physical” part of an IT infrastructure, and comprises all the elements necessary to support the basic functioning of the machines and devices constituting the infrastructure itself.
Servers, computers, storage and data centers, switches, hubs and routers, as well as all other equipment such as the power, cooling, cabling and dedicated rooms.
It refers to all the applications used by the enterprise both for internal purposes and to provide its services to customers. Software includes web servers, Enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), productivity applications and the operating system (OS).
The OS is the most important software component and is responsible for managing the hardware itself and connect the physical resources to the network infrastructure.
Although is not strictly necessary for an IT infrastructure to function, the network is essential to establish internal and external communication of all elements and devices.
The network part includes all the hardware and software elements necessary to ensure network enablement, internet connectivity, firewall and security. It ensures that personnel get access to stored and transferred data only from strictly controlled access points to reduce the risk of data theft or damage.
Since they contribute to constituting the enterprise environment and guarantee its functions, associated personnel and processes such as ITOps or DevOps are also part of an IT infrastructure.
Human users, such as network administrators (NA), developers, designers and end users with access to any IT appliance or service are also part of an IT infrastructure, specifically with the advent of user-centric IT service development.
All the components mentioned above that constitute a traditional infrastructure are usually owned by the enterprise itself and managed within their own facilities.
Needless to say, the larger the IT infrastructure, the more space, power, personnel, and money will be needed to run it. Today, part of this infrastructure can be virtualized and rented from third-party services to cut the costs.
Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are all relatively new options that allow businesses to rent software, infrastructure, services and human resources from external vendors who will deliver them using the internet. All the components rented are hosted and managed in cloud servers that employ their own IT infrastructures.
Since all these resources are built on virtualization technology, they can easily be scaled up or down as the needs of the business employing them changes.