Understanding Your IT Infrastructure
When it comes to an IT infrastructure definition, it is not always clear what falls under the umbrella. The concept generally refers to the various equipment and solutions that enable an organization to run its business in the digital era. Many people automatically think about IT infrastructure hardware and software, such as the computers and servers themselves, along with the management and monitoring software that enables the IT team to access and keep tabs on these devices.
However, IT infrastructure also includes the power and cooling equipment that keeps IT equipment up and running. These IT infrastructure solutions form the foundation or backbone of a company’s overall IT environment. Without them, nothing else can run. Efficient, reliable operation of these backbone components is critical to preventing costly downtime that can jeopardize a business’s ability to operate, serve its customers, and interact with its partners.
Distributed IT Infrastructure
These days, there is a growing need for IT infrastructure to exist closer to the end users —your organization’s employees, partners, and customers. As a result, IT infrastructure assets are increasingly distributed and geographically dispersed. They must physically exist in more locations than ever before: at data centers, in edge locations, and sometimes at a colocation facility or in the cloud. Wherever IT assets are housed, the backbone must also exist. With a larger proportion of employees working remotely and advanced technologies requiring more power, the IT infrastructure, wherever it exists, must rise to the challenge of supporting new and ever-evolving IT demands.
Critical IT Infrastructure Components
The components of the IT infrastructure backbone work together to distribute a clean and constant supply of power to IT equipment, maintain the operating environment for these devices, and ensure the IT team has access to monitor and control all critical devices. The primary components include:
- Power system. Clean, reliable, energy-efficient power is essential to supporting critical IT infrastructure. The heart of your power system should be a future-proof, intelligent uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that covers the backup power and power quality needs of your IT devices. If utility power is ever interrupted, the UPS provides temporary emergency backup power until the load can be transferred to an alternate power source. The UPS must be constantly available to step in and carry the load whenever the main power supply is compromised for any reason and during both planned and unplanned utility outages.
- UPS batteries. A UPS is only as good at the batteries that support it. New battery technologies such as lithium-ion batteries are driving increased power reliability, delivering longer useful life with reduced maintenance requirements, and offering built-in monitoring capabilities for keeping tabs on battery health.
- Rack power distribution units (rPDUs). Power distribution units reliably deliver power to critical IT equipment housed within a rack or cabinet. Intelligent systems that easily integrate with data center IT infrastructure management systems enable you to view real-time power data and monitor power at the outlet level, keeping you on top of the power usage of individual assets and equipment.
- Server racks. Server racks support, secure, and organize a wide variety of IT infrastructure equipment including servers, storage, switches, routers, PDUs, UPS units, and console port servers. Racks should be able to support high density environments and must be rated to accommodate today’s deeper, heavier equipment. The standard server rack measurement is 7 feet, often referred to as a 42U rack. The letter “U” stands for rack units or about 17.5 inches. However, there is the option to go up to a 48U rack for space-constrained data centers. Whatever the size, choosing racks that are specifically designed for good rack hygiene can help with managing cables and prevent them from taking up too much valuable space or restricting the airflow needed for proper cooling of equipment.
- Cooling and thermal management solutions. Proper environmental control — temperature, humidity, and air quality — plays a key role in protecting IT infrastructure and ensuring continuity. As more servers and storage systems are added to the IT environment, the existing cooling system may be unable to keep temperatures in safe operating range. To optimize equipment for maximum performance, you need thermal management solutions that deliver the right cooling capacity while avoiding the inefficiencies associated with overcooling. The best thermal management solutions also communicate in real-time regarding the status of the environment.
- IT infrastructure monitoring and management solutions. IT infrastructure monitoring, intelligent controls, and centralized IT infrastructure management systems work together to ensure visibility into assets, afford centralized and remote control, and increase equipment availability, utilization, and efficiency. IT infrastructure software plays an important role by collecting the data you need to run your critical infrastructure efficiently and delivering a real-time, integrated view of your entire IT ecosystem so the IT team can manage it from anywhere. The best IT infrastructure monitoring software helps safeguard the IT environment from threats that range from faulty equipment to environmental conditions to cyber intrusions. Learn more about IT infrastructure management solutions.
Keeping Your IT Infrastructure Up to Date
Many companies rely on IT infrastructure that is past its prime. According to a 2018 State of the Data Center Industry report from the State of Washington Department of Commerce, the average lifespan of a data center is 10-15 years. But the various IT infrastructure components within the data center will only perform reliably for a fraction of that time. For example, Vertiv experts have seen that as single-phase UPS units get older, usually after being in service for more than five years, it may be more cost-efficient to consider a total replacement of the unit as opposed to just making another battery replacement. Other components of the IT infrastructure backbone have various life expectancies. Of course, operating environment and maintenance programs also impact how long your infrastructure will perform. Keeping IT infrastructure current is critical to meeting the demands of increasingly distributed IT networks and new higher rack densities upon which today’s businesses rely.
IT Infrastructure Solutions Available from Vertiv
As a leader in digital continuity solutions, Vertiv is continuing to innovate and offers a broad portfolio including power, thermal, and IT and edge infrastructure solutions and services. Go online to learn more.