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Elucidating the new IT delivery chain infrastructure

Santosh Kulkarni •

In recent times, the growth of many organizations has centered around building out their IT infrastructure, a process that has been in the spotlight as reliance on business IT networks has changed with shifting work models. Therefore, the right selection of both active and passive IT infrastructure has become more critical due to its long-term impact on business operations.

Conventional IT Infrastructures were on-premise builds. Every organization ensured that they built their own data centre at the pre-defined strategic location within their own site. These data centres allowed IT teams to build infrastructures per their organization’s specific needs. The basis of the design of these data centres was often future demand projections which brought in the element of uncertainty on planning the IT load capacity. With the advent of cloud and colocation data centres, IT managers gained an ability to make the IT Infrastructure agile. This gave organizations scalability to simultaneously grow IT infrastructure as demand increased. It opened the doors of technological innovation in the IT infrastructure domain. Initially, this compelled IT managers to think that the entire on-premise IT Infrastructure could be shifted to a centralized IT setup, which sparked the centralized versus distributed debate.

Both architectures have their pros and cons. The IT industry gradually realized that sticking to a single IT infrastructure would not be feasible considering the following key aspects:

  1. Latency requirements for different applications
  2. Statutory guidelines that govern the concept of data storage
  3. Business confidential information like research and design or customer data
  4. Availability of trained manpower to handle IT at remote locations

As a result, hybrid IT infrastructures came into existence where customers get the best of both approaches. The hybrid IT infrastructure approach signifies that centralized IT infrastructure can be used for applications that require high latency and everything that needs low or ultra-low latency can be placed near the end user. This, however, requires the IT Infrastructure to be scalable in support of both cloud and edge computing applications.

To ensure the highest uptime for crucial IT Infrastructures, IT managers need to focus on each link of this IT delivery chain.

Passive Infrastructure at the edge will need some special attention as it houses IT equipment that will very frequently connect the end user directly to the organization. In almost every case, the end user experience will solely depend on the performance of IT infrastructure at the edge with ultra-low latency.

In a conventional setup, this can prove to be the weakest link in the IT delivery chain as the following details are either ignored or improperly addressed:

  1. Redundancy of the crucial aspects of power and cooling at the edge
  2. Monitoring the status of power and cooling for uninterrupted operations
  3. Standardization of infrastructure design for quick deployment
  4. Remote access to IT devices for quick resolution to any IT concerns
  5. Service availability for critical products like cooling and power

Apart from these oversights, energy efficiency is also not often considered, resulting in huge energy consumption costs, thereby increasing operational costs with very high annual spend on electricity bills.

It is vital that IT managers focus on the last mile infrastructure of the IT delivery chain to ensure end users always stay connected at the edge of their network. This can also cause a paradigm shift from conventional practices of building hub rooms, network rooms, and small server rooms to the new modern IT infrastructure concepts.

Even among edge infrastructure, there are the following challenges in the design and build process:

  1. IT device concentration is low in edge applications
  2. Space restraints limit the deployment of required IT infrastructure
  3. Facilities are widespread across different geographical locations

However, there is a new “smart” approach that ensures each edge site has integrated IT infrastructure consisting of the following:

  1. IT rack
  2. UPS system redundancy designed based on criticality
  3. Cooling system with operational redundancy
  4. Remote monitoring of all crucial components
  5. Security ensured through access control and surveillance system with an option for fire suppression
  6. Remote access to IT devices like servers, switches and routers

It’s essential to have robust, scalable Infrastructure at the edge of IT networks. It enables cloud and edge computing applications while maximizing uptime and eliminating operational hassles. The edge demands both active and passive infrastructure with plug-and-play deployment that is highly available and efficient. These “smart” solutions are customizable and provide the agility needed to meet an unforeseen rise in customer demand.

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