As a general business practice, organizations need to adhere to industry standards when it comes to setting up their policies, systems, or processes including those related to IT infrastructure services.
For IT enterprises, this means putting proper safeguards in place to ensure that your IT framework performs efficiently for your end users. Without a robust IT structure, your business operations will suffer, as well as your service to customers.
Important Elements of an IT Infrastructure
For sure, you are highly familiar with the collection of hardware, software, networks, and special equipment that make up your IT infrastructure. The question, however, does your IT infrastructure contain the following essential elements?
1. Business Continuity
This, in IT speak, is commonly called your backup plan, but experts are quick to point out that it’s not anywhere close to what a comprehensive business continuity plan should be. The objective in having a BCP is for you to roadmap the team’s course of action in the face of disasters or potential attacks to your business. Ultimately, your goal is to have little or no disruption at all in your system network. Keep the following in mind when mapping your BCP:
- Identify potential threats – Threats come in different forms and sizes, and natural disasters may physically destroy your IT infrastructure. Cyber attacks may bring partial damage to your network but not your hardware. Power crisis scenarios may leave your equipment unusable, but keep it intact. Your contingencies will depend on the type of threat that you foresee.
- Assign areas of responsibility – This is an essential part of an information security policy, in which you establish the chain of command, delegate responsibilities based on job title, and assign possible replacements for critical positions. A key aspect here is training key personnel in disaster preparedness, incident management, and recovery
- Set up communication strategies – If telephone or internet lines are down, you need to use alternative communication channels like amateur radios to get in touch with customers, remote working employees, or emergency services. It’s also recommended to keep an updated contact directory that includes cell phone numbers and web-based email addresses of key personnel and emergency contacts.
- Form recovery teams – Your recovery team is in charge of reestablishing normal operations after a crisis or incident and should consist of specialists from safety, security, communications, personnel, and IT departments.
- Backup data off-site – Backup data files should be kept either on a remote server or a separate location or both, but not in the same server room in your building as an important precaution in case forces of nature or destructive weapons hit your building. Your backup site could also house your temporary operations while you’re looking for a new office facility.
- Have electricity backup – It goes without saying that you’ll need electricity to keep your systems running. Assuming that you have standby power generators, make sure that dedicated personnel are deployed to operate, monitor, and maintain them—ensuring that the main power and generator power do not cause voltage surges across your IT setup.
2. User Access
Users with access to the network infrastructure should be directed to comply at all times with the organization’s information security policies such as being responsible for their passwords. Along with the system administrator, the user needs to be aware of virus protection and software updates for his/her equipment as well.
If employees are allowed to bring their own device to work, the system administrator should see to it that use of such devices is in accordance with the company policy. Equally important is controlling user access through authentication procedures.
The idea of establishing and modifying user access is to minimize the risk of human error in handling data within the entire network. As you know, errors of this type could prove costly for your organization.
3. IT Assets
Your organization should carefully consider creating an inventory or list of your IT assets as you plan and allocate budget for your IT infrastructure. The list could be handy for when you’re hiring external IT support services, who would want to know the kind of equipment you have. You could also use the list to monitor who’s accountable for a particular hardware or software.
Your asset inventory may include important details about every piece of your computer equipment, as well as all the shared infrastructure such as servers, switches, routers, printers, access points, and the like.
Your security controls go hand in hand with your information security policy. Unfortunately, some organizations are in the dark figuring out how to develop an ideal security program. In line with this, experts recommend that enterprises build their own based on ISO 17799, which is the internationally recognized industry standard for IT security management. The following components at play here include:
- Organizational security, which is achievable with the use of a security forum led by a security officer and the creation of an authorization process and independent review.
- Personnel security, which involves educating employees about and screening of their computer security habits.
- Physical and environment security, which is about protecting the organization’s assets and facilities through access controls and applicable security parameters.
- Compliance, which is tied to meeting regulatory, contractual, and statutory requirements using proper technical controls and system audits.
5. Reliability / Scalability
In the IT world, there are at least seven software “-ilities” that should rule the development of IT solutions or services.
Reliability is one crucial concern for today’s generation that’s characterized by the “always on” status of technological applications. Downtimes should be minimal and technical errors be manageable.
Your IT infrastructure’s scalability needs to be sufficient to meet usage demand without slowing down performance or negatively affecting the quality of your application’s response. Your scalability solutions could either be upgrading or adding nodes to your topology, depending on your business needs or application requirements.