Defining I.T. Infrastructure
Information technology infrastructure is the shared technology resources that provide the platform for the firms/ organization’s specific information systems application.
A set of firm wide services budgeted by management and comprises both human and technical capabilities
The firm-wide services includes;
a) Computing platforms used to provide computing services that connect employees, customers and suppliers into a coherent digital environment, including large mainframes, desktop and laptop computers, and personal digital assistants (PDA) and internet appliances.
b) Telecommunications services that provide data, voice, and video connectivity to employees, customers, and suppliers
c) Data management services that store and manage corporate data and provide capabilities for analyzing the data.
d) Physical facilities management services that develop and manage the physical installations required for computing, telecommunications, and data management services.
e) IT management services that plan and develop the infrastructure, coordinate with the business units for IT services, manage accounting for the IT expenditure, and provide project management services.
f) IT standards services that provide the firm and its business units with policies that determine which information technology will be used, when, and how.
g) IT education services that provide training in system use to employees and offer managers training in how to plan for and manage IT investments.
h) IT research and development services that provide the firm with research on potential future IT projects and investments that could help the firm differentiate itself in the marketplace.
The Need for an IS Infrastructure
The infrastructure includes investment in hardware, software, and services such as consulting, education and training, that are shared across the entire organization or across entire business units in an organization. Investment in infrastructure account for between 25% – 35% of the information technology expenditure in large organizations. An organization’s IT infrastructure provides the foundation for serving customers, working with vendors and managing internal business processes. Businesses rely on IS infrastructure to support business processes, decision making and competitive strategy
Levels of IT Infrastructure
A typical firm’s IT infrastructure can be divided into three major levels: public, enterprise and business unit. Each level has its own unique hardware, software, and service components.
Public-level includes the Internet, public telephone networks on which businesses are increasingly reliant, industry-operated networks, cable systems, satellite systems, and cellular telephone networks.
Enterprise level may include email, Web sites, intranets, extranets, and enterprise applications.
Business units concentrate on those infrastructure components that service the four functional areas of a typical business: sales & marketing, production & manufacturing, finance, and human resources.
Evolution of IT Infrastructure: 1950-2005
Reviewing the evolution of corporate IT infrastructure can offer some insight into where we may
Evolution of the IT Infrastructure
Electronic accounting machine (1930-1950): dominated by machines that began to replace humans in the accounting department. Because almost all of the computing was done in the accounting and finance functional area, future IT departments tended to be under the purview of the Chief Financial Officer.
General purpose Mainframe and Mini computer Era (1959 – Present); the mainframe era began with highly centralized computing with networks of terminals concentrated in the computing department. While early models contained proprietary software and data, today’s mainframes are able to process a wide variety of software and data. It’s interesting to note that IBM began this era and remains the single largest supplier of mainframe computing. While the experts and pundits predicted the death of the mainframe in the mid 1980s, the mainframe has evolved and remains a strong, viable component in many IT infrastructures because of its ability to process huge amounts of data and transmissions.
Personal computer Era (1981 – Present): it’s interesting to note that the advances developed for personal computer in the home has given rise to much of the advances in corporate computing in the last 25 years. As the home user became more comfortable with using computers, and more applications were developed for personal computers, more employees demanded increased use of computers in the workplace. While the Wintel standard has dominated this era, open-source software is starting to put a big dent into that stronghold.
Client / Server Era (1983 – present): as the desktop and laptop personal computers became more powerful and cheaper, businesses began using them to replace mini-computers and some mainframe computers by networking them together. Client node is the user point of entry to the network, while the server typically processes and stores data, serves the web pages or manages network activities. Large companies use a multi-tiered client/server architecture that has several different levels of servers. Client / server computing enables businesses to distribute computing work across a series of smaller, inexpensive machines, resulting in explosion in computing power and application throughout the organization.