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Information technology (IT) infrastructure encompasses all the hardware, software, networks, and facilities that are necessary for the operation and management of an organization’s IT environment. All these components work together to develop, test, deliver, monitor, control or support IT operations. In other words, IT infrastructure allows an organization to deliver IT services and solutions to its employees, partners, and/or customers.

IT infrastructure can be divided into three main categories:

The first is hardware, which consists of all the “physical” components. This includes traditional infrastructure elements such as personal computers, servers, storage, switches, and routers, as well as elements such as cabling, cooling, and power. In recent years the definition of hardware has broadened to include devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The dedicated facilities that house this equipment can also be included in this category.
The software category encapsulates applications or computer programs used by the business for both internal purposes and to provide services to its partners and/or customers. Examples of software include web servers, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), security software such as antivirus and antimalware, and a wide range of commercial or proprietary productivity applications. One of the most important elements in this category is the operating system (OS), as it is responsible for managing system hardware and resources, and it is the link between the hardware and all the other software.

And lastly, there is networking, which is what allows the various systems in the IT environment to communicate with each other internally, as well as with external systems securely. Networking includes internet connectivity and network enablement, hardware elements such as routers, switches, and cables, as well as software such as firewalls, security, and access control. The network must be securely and robustly configured so that clients can access data and resources from strictly controlled access points to ensure data integrity and minimize the risk of data theft.

Sometimes the human resources that manage and maintain the IT infrastructure, for example, the network administrators, IT support technicians, and even end-users who interface with this infrastructure, are included in a category called meatware.
All the hardware, software, and networking components that are part of a traditional IT infrastructure are typically owned by the business itself and managed within its facilities. When you factor in the costs of equipment, power, physical space, and human resources required to operate, manage and maintain traditional IT infrastructure, this can be very expensive.

As a result, cloud IT infrastructure is a popular way of virtualizing a business’s IT infrastructure needs, often cutting IT costs dramatically. Software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are emerging options for businesses to rent software, hardware, services, and human resources from a third party. Because these resources are built on a foundation of virtualization technology they can be scaled up or down quickly and easily, with minimal cost or disruption to the business.

As data storage and management becomes more digitized the future of IT infrastructure is moving towards the cloud. And hyper-convergence, i.e. the management of a business’s IT infrastructure from a single interface, is an important part of that future.