With so many great ways to augment your enterprise’s operations with technology, it’s easy to lose sight of the essentials. It is the CIO’s responsibility to make sure that innovations in hardware, software, and networking don’t distract your administrator’s focus from the basic, pragmatic features that are most valuable to your business.
Here are ten of the basic infrastructure design elements that you should keep in mind when developing your organization’s computing infrastructure, both in the present and far into the future.
- IT Infrastructure Needs Assessment: What does your enterprise’s infrastructure need to function with optimal efficiency? A comprehensive network audit that includes a measurement of the degrees of usage each component gets is essential to managing the return you will get on your technology investments.
- Hardware as a Service (HaaS): One of the biggest pain points of enterprises is investing in new hardware, even though it will just have to be replaced again in a few years anyway. In an attempt to shore up the large up-front cost of doing so, many managed IT service providers offer Hardware as a Service. HaaS is designed to allow enterprises more affordable ways to replace dysfunctional hardware through the use of affordable monthly payments.
- Network Design, Device Configuration, Rollout & Optimization: If you’re hosting your infrastructure on-premise, adding new hardware can be a major pain. Of course, you’ll want to have a complete cabling infrastructure planned out before installing the new hardware. Cabling is tough to redo if it’s not done right the first time, so you will want to make sure that you get things right initially to avoid headaches and additional costs.
- Complete Cabling & Physical Connectivity: While in the process of connecting all of your endpoints to your enterprise’s infrastructure, make sure that any and all workstations, servers, or other hardware that needs to be connected, has been.
- Server & Storage Consolidation: If your organization has servers that are being underutilized, you can consolidate them to ensure that you’re getting the best return on investment. Servers are expensive and resource-intensive to run and maintain, so you might be surprised by how much your enterprise can save by virtualizing and consolidating your computing resources.
- Virtualization, Clustering & Load Balancing: While on the topic of server consolidation, virtual servers are great ways to avoid overloading a physical server unit. Virtual servers offer opportunities to isolate and run legacy apps, which is a unique advantage that could make all of the difference if you rely on older software.
- Email & IP Telephony: Where are you hosting your communications solutions? Are they a part of your on-site infrastructure, or are they deployed through a cloud-based solution? Either way, it’s important to keep in mind the internal bandwidth of doing such a thing, as well as what happens to your business if your vendor’s cloud solution goes down.
- Manage Print Services: Printers don’t always come into the conversation when thinking about infrastructure. You need to plan ahead for copiers and printers. If you don’t they could become a liability that makes something as simple as printing a receipt an issue.
- Disaster Recovery Solutions: Do you have a plan in the event of a major disaster? You should be storing backups of your data in multiple locations both on-site, off-site, and in the cloud for rapid recovery.
- On-Premise to Cloud Migration: How much effort will it take to move your data infrastructure to the cloud? Moving an on-site network to the cloud offers several benefits to enterprises, including increased access, permissions management, and much more.
Before you deploy your new infrastructure, make sure that you’ve addressed the following:
- Will the cost benefit hold in the long run? So, you’ve put together your ideal technology infrastructure. Right now, it looks economically advantageous, but how will it fare over the first year? How about over five or even ten years? Being able to sustain a cost-effective return on your technology investments is important, so take the time to evaluate the state of your infrastructure periodically.
- Is your new infrastructure scalable? Can the infrastructure you’ve chosen sustain growth? It’s natural for enterprises to grow over time, which necessitates adding new users and endpoints. Being able to respond to these changes in your organization’s computing demands is part of being a successful IT administrator, so be sure to design your infrastructure with scalability in mind.
- Have you considered how you’ll adapt to future innovations? You could have the best, most versatile infrastructure out there at present, but if something innovative comes along that presents substantial gains, you will want to be able integrate that solution. Technology is meant to enhance and augment your enterprise, so implementing an infrastructure that’s flexible can present you the ability to implement future technologies efficiently.
- Did you consider probable regulatory requirements? Chances are that your enterprise needs to adhere to standards set by regulatory compliance, like PCI, HIPAA, and more. Be sure that your enterprise takes this into consideration when designing, implementing, and improving your infrastructure.
Designing your enterprise’s infrastructure can be seen as investing in the future success of your organization, and it’s something that cannot be taken lightly. Oftentimes, it’s easier to outsource infrastructure design and deployment to a third party to ensure that your technology management resources aren’t overburdened.