What is IT Infrastructure?

Information technology infrastructure, or IT infrastructure, refers to the combined components needed for the operation and management of enterprise IT services and IT environments.

Why IT infrastructure is important

Technology powers nearly every aspect of today’s businesses, from an individual employee’s work to operations to goods and services. When properly networked, technology can be optimized to improve communication, create efficiencies and increase productivity.

If an IT infrastructure is flexible, reliable and secure, it can help an enterprise meet its goals and provide a competitive edge in the market. Alternatively, if an IT infrastructure isn’t properly implemented, businesses can face connectivity, productivity and security issues—like system disruptions and breaches. Overall, having a properly implemented infrastructure can be a factor in whether a business is profitable or not.

With an IT infrastructure, a company can:

  • Provide a positive customer experience by providing uninterrupted access to its website and online store.
  • Develop and launch solutions to market with speed.
  • Collect data in real time to make quick decisions.
  • Improve employee productivity.

How do the components of IT infrastructure work?

The components of IT infrastructure are made up of interdependent elements, and the two core groups of components are hardware and software. Hardware uses software—like an operating system—to work. And likewise, an operating system manages system resources and hardware. Operating systems also make connections between software applications and physical resources using networking components.

Hardware

Hardware components can include:

  • Desktop computers
  • Servers
  • Data centers
  • Hubs
  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Facilities

Software

Software components can include:

  • Content management systems (CMS)
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Operating systems
  • Web servers

Facilities
Facilities or physical plants provide space for networking hardware, servers and data centers. It also includes the network cabling in office buildings to connect components of an IT infrastructure together.

Network
Networks are comprised of switches, routers, hubs and servers. Switches connect network devices on local area networks (LAN) like routers, servers and other switches. Routers allow devices on different LANs to communicate and move packets between networks. Hubs connect multiple networking devices to act as a single component.

Server
A core hardware component needed for an enterprise IT infrastructure is a server. Servers are essentially computers that allow multiple users to access and share resources.

Server room/data center
Organizations house multiple servers in rooms called server rooms or data centers. Data centers are the core of most networks.


Types of infrastructure

The two primary types of IT infrastructure are traditional and cloud infrastructure.

Traditional infrastructure

A traditional IT infrastructure is made up of the usual hardware and software components: facilities, data centers, servers, networking hardware desktop computers and enterprise application software solutions. Typically, this infrastructure setup requires more power, physical space and money than other infrastructure types. A traditional infrastructure is typically installed on-premises for company-only, or private, use.

Cloud infrastructure

A cloud computing IT infrastructure is similar to traditional infrastructure. However, end users can access the infrastructure via the internet, with the ability to use computing resources without installing on-premises through virtualization. Virtualization connects physical servers maintained by a service provider at any or many geographical locations. Then, it divides and abstracts resources, like storage, to make them accessible to users almost anywhere an internet connection can be made. Because cloud infrastructure is often public, it’s usually referred to as a public cloud.


An optimal IT infrastructure

IT infrastructure setups vary by business needs and goals, but some goals are universal for every enterprise. The optimal infrastructure will provide a business high-performance storage, a low-latency network, security, an optimized wide area network (WAN), virtualization and zero downtime.

  • High-performance storage systems store and back up data and include a data recovery system in case of disasters.
  • Low-latency networks use enterprise-level infrastructure components to reduce the delay of data flow.
  • Secure infrastructures include systems that control information access and data availability. It can also safeguard a business against breaches and cyberattacks wherever the data resides, maintaining the customers’ trust.
  • WANs manage the network by prioritizing traffic and giving certain applications more or less bandwidth as needed.
  • Virtualization provides faster server provisioning, increases uptime, improves disaster recovery and saves energy.
  • Zero downtime aims to reduce disruptions to business operations and eliminates system downtime to keep costs down and profits up.

Infrastructure solutions

IT infrastructure

Maintain customer loyalty and trust through industry-leading performance, unmatched uptime and instant recovery with the world’s most reliable and resilient compute, storage and software solutions. The IBM IT infrastructure portfolio can help your business run at peak efficiency 365 days a year. Take advantage of the best uptime in the market with top-ranked servers, storage and software.

Enterprise servers

Get the flexibility and performance you need to innovate and accelerate with the cutting-edge security and reliability of IBM servers.

Data storage

Store more data, gain faster insights, deploy applications in containers that improve data mobility and improve your cyber resiliency and data protection with IBM data storage.

Software and operating systems

Modernize your IT infrastructure, accelerate workloads, simplify operations and develop and deploy new applications with IBM software. Or maximize your current IT investments with flexible, open and highly compatible hybrid multicloud solutions. Whatever your investments in on-premises, private cloud, hybrid cloud or public cloud, IBM IT infrastructure can work with what you have and make it better.

Mainframes

Transform your application and data portfolio with innovative data privacy, security, and cyber resiliency capabilities—all delivered through a hybrid cloud environment—with IBM mainframes.

Infrastructure security

Ensure regulatory compliance with exceptional data security and privacy built-in at every layer, at rest and in motion.  Safeguard your business against breaches and cyberattacks while maintaining your customers’ trust—wherever your data resides. And protect your data across the hybrid cloud with a new commercial data privacy and security enforcement solution with off-platform access revocation only available on IBM servers.