As information becomes a valuable resource of the digital firm, the infrastructure used to care for the resource takes on added importance. We'll examine all of the components that comprise today's and tomorrow's IT Infrastructure and how best to manage it.
6.1 IT Infrastructure
When you mention the phrase "information technology infrastructure," most people immediately think of just hardware and software. However, there is more to it than just those two. In fact, the most important and often most-ignored component is that of services. Integrating all three components forces a business to think in terms of the value of the whole and not just the parts. Including all three components in any discussion of IT infrastructure truly fits the cliché that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Defining IT Infrastructure
If you define a firm's IT infrastructure in terms of technology you limit the discussion to the hardware and software components. By broadening the definition to that of service-based, you are then bringing into the discussion the services generated by the first two components. Also, you are including the persware element that we discussed in Chapter 1. As technology advances the types of hardware and software available, it becomes more critical for the firm to focus on the services that it can provide to customers, suppliers, employees, and business partners.
A few of the services that may not be readily apparent are:
Telecommunications services: connecting employees, customers, and suppliers
Data management services: not just storing, but managing massive amounts of corporate data and making it available to internal and external users
IT education services: training employees on how to properly use the system
IT research and development services: researching future IT projects and investments
Levels of IT Infrastructure
A typical firm's IT infrastructure can be divided into three