What is Infrastructure Management?
Infrastructure Management (IM), from the perspective of an organization’s information system, is defined as the management of essential operation components, such as organizational policies, processes, equipment, data, human resources, and external contacts, for overall effectiveness.
To exist and thrive in the contemporary cut-throat competitive digital world, organizations have to rely on complex, interrelated information systems infrastructure.
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Infrastructure is different for different sectors of the business enterprise. For some enterprises, infrastructure might refer to interconnecting hardware and software and not necessarily to computers and other interconnected devices only.
However, for other organizations’ information technology enterprises, infrastructure might be viewed as all those devices that support the flow and processing of information. The Internet, infrastructure is considered to be the physical hardware that is used to interconnect computers and users.
It includes the transmission media, like telephone lines, cable television lines, satellites, and antennas, as well as routers, aggregators, repeaters, and other devices that control transmission paths. Software needed to send, receive and manage the transmission signals is also included in the infrastructure.
Infrastructure management can sometimes be divided into the following three categories as depicted in Figure:
The management of the information technology systems in an organization is referred to as systems management. Systems management starts with collecting requirements, procuring equipment and software according to them, and then distributing it to where it is required.
It also includes configuring the equipment with the latest software, maintaining it, enhancing it with service updates, etc. System management incorporates a problem-handling process and ensures the objectives of the organization as a whole are being met.
The systems management department is often referred to as management information systems (MIS) or simply information systems (IS).
Networking basically refers to the construction, design, and use of a network, with respect to information technology. Networking includes the components required for setting up a network like cabling, hub, bridge, switch, router, etc. telecommunication protocol, and software for implementing and managing the network.
It also includes establishing operational policies and procedures required for a smooth network. Network management encompasses activities, methods and procedures, and tools that are associated with the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.
Storage management is a combination of technologies and processes required by organizations to optimize the performance of their data storage resources. As the amount of digital data stored in computer systems all over the world is almost doubling every year, there is constant pressure on organizations to expand their storage capacity.
Since doubling the storage capacity every year is an expensive proposition, storage management solutions are implemented in order to reduce costs and improve the security and capabilities of the existing storage.
Storage management technologies, enable organizations to utilize their existing storage optimally leading to lower costs both one-time capital investment associated with storage devices and the ongoing operational costs for maintaining them.
Need for Infrastructure Management
Along with basic infrastructure, businesses rely majorly on information systems infrastructure for decision-making and business processes, and for formulating competitive strategy. Business processes are the actions that an organization has to perform to reach its business goals.
Most of the organization’s business processes are dependent on its information systems infrastructure although to different degrees. Organization’s management require infrastructure management to support a variety of activities.
Reliable communication networks are needed to support collaboration between suppliers and customers, accurate and timely data and knowledge is required to gain business intelligence, and information systems are needed to aid decision-making and support business processes. These are all part of infrastructure management.
Uses of Infrastructure Management
There are many uses of infrastructure management. A few of them are compiled below:
- To reduce duplication of effort
- To ensure adherence to standards
- To increase the flow of information throughout an information system
- To encourage adaptability necessary for a changing environment
- To ensure interoperability among organizational and external entities
- To maintain effective change management policies and practices