What is IT Infrastructure?


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Toluwani Folayan

May 30, 2023

Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure refers to the essential components that make it possible to deliver IT services within an organisation. It includes all the hardware, software, network, workplace, data platform, compute, edge capabilities, and other components a business requires to build and run an application efficiently and effectively.

Just like you would have a traditional infrastructure in every process, IT infrastructure exists in the same vain except that with Information Technology Infrastructure, applications and data can now be accessed from anywhere at any time with modern cloud infrastructure.

IT Infrastructure takes it a step further from th traditional Infrastructure that typically concerns itself with servers, hardware, and data centres which are often manually configured and managed. 

It is essential you keep reading this article because it will help you navigate the complex web of technology, network, and systems that runs your daily operations. 

By the end of this article, it will become simpler to understand how the Components of IT Infrastructure work, how to troubleshoot problems, make better-informed decisions, and adapt to the changing technology landscape.

What you will learn from this article

  • What is IT Infrastructure?
  • Why is IT Infrastructure Important?
  • How do the Components of IT Infrastructure work?
  • What are the Types of IT Infrastructure?
  • Common Terms Related to IT Infrastructure

First, we start with a definition of IT Infrastructure and an analogy to simplify it.

What is IT Infrastructure?

Information Technology Infrastructure is the framework or structure that allows businesses to build and run applications smoothly and effectively. It includes all the hardware, software, network, workplace, data platform, compute, edge capabilities, and other components a business requires to deliver IT services. 

For instance, imagine you run a restaurant. Your IT infrastructure would include everything you need to run your business effectively. This includes physical components like the cooking utensils, table, chairs, and the building itself. It would also include digital aspects like the cash register, the inventory management system, and the network that connects all these components.

So, your IT infrastructure is the entire setup that supports your restaurant, from the physical items to the digital tools, allowing you to serve customers, manage inventory, and keep track of sales. Just like how a strong backbone supports your body, a well-designed IT infrastructure supports your business's day-to-day operations and growth.

Why is IT Infrastructure Important?

Learning about IT infrastructure is crucial for individuals and business owners because it is like knowing the "backbone" of their digital world. Just as a strong backbone supports our bodies, a well-designed IT infrastructure supports businesses' smooth functioning and growth. By understanding IT Infrastructure, people can navigate the complex web of technology, networks, and systems that power their daily operations.

It also empowers businesses to troubleshoot problems, make informed decisions about technology investments, and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. Just as we care for our physical health by understanding how our bodies work, learning about IT infrastructure ensures the health and success of businesses in our increasingly digital age.

It ensures businesses meet their goals and gives them a competitive edge. Alternatively, businesses that fail to implement IT Infrastructure properly have a higher chance of facing connectivity, productivity, and security issues.

Some other reasons why IT Infrastructure is essential include the following:

  • Data management and security- IT infrastructure enables efficient data management and security, preventing unwanted access to or loss of important information. For instance, healthcare industries can use IT infrastructure to manage and protect patient data. 
  • Seamless operations- a robust IT infrastructure guarantees efficient and consistent operations by offering reliable access to the necessary tools and resources.
  • Collaboration and communication- Despite team members being geographically separated, IT infrastructure provides smooth cooperation and communication. For instance, a multinational corporation connects employees from several time zones using virtual meeting platforms, project management tools, and cloud storage, promoting communication and guaranteeing effective teamwork.
  • Customer service- IT infrastructure is crucial in enhancing customer experience and engagement. Consider an online streaming service that relies on high-speed servers, content delivery networks (CDNs), and personalised recommendation algorithms to deliver seamless streaming experiences and engage customers through targeted content suggestions. You will agree that a properly integrated IT infrastructure will go a long way in improving customer service. 
  • Scalability and Adaptability- Businesses can scale their operations and respond to shifting customer demands and market trends through a well-designed IT infrastructure. For example, an e-commerce platform must have a flexible infrastructure capable of handling increased website traffic during peak shopping seasons without performance degradation or downtime.

How do the Components of IT Infrastructure work?

There are two primary components of Information Technology infrastructure. They include Hardware and Software. However, other elements make up the IT infrastructure which we will discuss in subsequent paragraphs.

The essential components of IT infrastructure include:

1. Hardware

Hardware components include physical tools that process and store information. They act as the "muscles" of the IT infrastructure, executing tasks and handling data.

They often require software such as an operating system for them to work. Similarly, such an operating system will require hardware to establish connections between software applications and these physical components while using network tools.

Some examples of hardware tools include:

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Servers
  • Networking equipment
  • Printers
  • Peripherals
  • Storage devices

2. Software

Software is a collection of instructions or programs that guide hardware on how it is supposed to operate. It is like the "brain" of the IT infrastructure. They enable tasks like running programs, storing and retrieving data, and managing networks.

Examples of software include:

  • Operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux)
  • Database Management System (DBMS)
  • Project Management Software (Jira, Asana)
  • Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Web browsers (Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox)
  • Antivirus and Security software (Norton, Avast)
  • Productivity suites (Microsoft Office, Google Workspace)

Other components of IT Infrastructure include:

3. Network

Networks connect devices, allowing them to communicate and share information. They function as the "nervous system" of the IT infrastructure. Whether a local area network (LAN) within an office or a wide area network (WAN) connecting multiple locations, networks enable data transfer, email communication, and access to shared resources.

Networking also makes integrated security monitoring, configuration management, device access management and other objectives and services possible.

Examples of Network components in Information Technology Infrastructure include:

  • Routers
  • Firewalls
  • Switches
  • Wireless Access Points (WAPs)
  • Network Interface Cards (NICs)
  • Network Protocols
  • Network Cables
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

4. Server

A server is a crucial piece of hardware for a corporate IT system. In essence, servers are computers that let several people access and share resources.

Some commonly used examples of Servers in IT infrastructure include:

  • Database Servers
  • File Servers
  • Web Servers
  • Application Servers
  • Domain Name System (DNS) Servers
  • Print Servers

Each server type performs specific tasks, addressing various facets of data storage, application hosting, communication, and resource management within a company's network environment.

5. Data storage

Data storage, or a "memory bank" in the IT architecture, is where information is preserved for future use. It could be actual storage hardware like hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs), or it could be cloud-based virtual storage. 

Data storage ensures that data is accessible, secure, and available for processing when needed.

6. Security measures

Security measures serve as the "security guards" of the system, preventing unauthorised access and malicious activity on the IT infrastructure. This includes access controls, firewalls, antivirus programs, and encryption methods. They aid in preventing data breaches, safeguarding private data, and guaranteeing the security and privacy of the Infrastructure.

What are the Types of IT Infrastructure?

There are two major types of Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure. They include:

1. Traditional Infrastructure

The traditional IT infrastructure comprises the standard hardware and software elements, including structures, data centres, servers, networking devices, desktop PCs, and corporate application software solutions. This infrastructure configuration typically takes more energy, physical area, and money than other Infrastructure. Typically, traditional Infrastructure is constructed on-site for business-specific or private use.

2. Cloud Infrastructure

As discussed at the beginning of this article, cloud Infrastructure is similar to traditional Infrastructure and offers the same services. However, cloud infrastructure allows end users to access its services only through the Internet. This virtualisation allows enables them to access computational resources without installing anything locally.

Furthermore, service providers can connect physical servers through virtualisation at one or more locations. It also separates and abstracts resources, including storage, to make them available to users practically anywhere an internet connection can be made.

Cloud Infrastructure can sometimes be called Public Cloud because it is often public. 

Difference Between Traditional and Cloud Infrastructure

The main difference between traditional and cloud Infrastructure is how computing resources are managed and accessed. Traditional Infrastructure typically involves physical servers, networking equipment, and software installed and maintained on-premises by the organisation. In contrast, cloud infrastructure relies on remote servers and services provided by a cloud service provider, accessible over the Internet. 

Also, with traditional Infrastructure, organisations are responsible for procuring, managing, and scaling their hardware and software. In contrast, cloud infrastructure offers the flexibility of on-demand resource allocation, scalability, and reduced upfront costs. 

Lastly, it allows users to access virtualised computing resources, such as virtual servers and storage, provided by the cloud service provider, freeing them from physical infrastructure management burdens.

Common Terms Related to IT Infrastructure

1. IaaS

IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service. It refers to a type of cloud computing that offers consumers pay-as-you-go access to basic computing, network, and storage tools on demand over the Internet. 

IaaS allows end users to expand and contract resources as needed, obviating the need for large upfront capital expenditures or unused "owned" Infrastructure, particularly in the case of "spiky" workloads.

Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services (IWS) and  Rackspace.

Please read our article on SaaS VS PaaS vs IaaS: How to Differentiate Between Them.

2. Meatware

The phrase "meatware" refers to the human element of a computer network or information system. It describes the people who use, administer, and communicate with the system's hardware, software, and data. Meatware is a general term that describes the individuals who contribute their knowledge, expertise, and decision-making skills to ensure the efficient operation and application of the technological Infrastructure. The word is frequently used metaphorically to highlight the significance of human engagement and skill in IT systems, in contrast to the hardware and software components frequently referred to as "hardware" and "software."

3. Optimal IT Infrastructure

Optimal IT infrastructure is a well-designed and efficiently managed technology environment that meets an organisation's specific needs and goals. It is a configuration that maximises performance, reliability, scalability, security, and cost-effectiveness.

The essential features of optimal IT infrastructure include high-performance storage, a low-latency network, security, an efficient wide area network (WAN), virtualisation, and zero downtime.

4. Infrastructure Management

IT infrastructure management's objective is to manage and administer technological instruments proactively. This includes recording fixes, looking for potential errors and issues, and tracking any errors back to their original causes.

Infrastructure Management is mainly focused on three areas. These are ITOM, ITSM, AND ITAM.


IT Operations Management (ITOM) refers to the collection of methods and technologies to safeguard the business's IT infrastructure's availability, dependability, and efficiency. It includes network event management, orchestration, cloud management, operational intelligence, and data collecting.


IT Service Management (ITSM) comprises all the tasks required to manage IT services during their life. The choice to establish a particular service is the first step in the IT service life cycle, which is then followed by service design, creation, deployment, and, finally, service operation.


Organisations increasingly need to manage and optimise the acquisition, implementation, utilisation, and end-of-life disposition of their IT assets as they amass more of them, and this is precisely what the principle of IT Asset Management (ITAM) is all about. 

8. Cloud Computing

The delivery of computing services, including servers, storage, databases, software, and networking, over the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis.

9. Data centre

A building that houses networking hardware, servers, storage devices, and power and cooling systems to enable the management and maintenance of IT infrastructure.

10. ITIL 

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is an IT service management framework that offers direction on service strategy, design, transfer, operation, and continuous improvement.

11. Patch management

A method of ensuring your systems and applications are up to date and secure against vulnerabilities through deploying software patches, updates, and security fixes regularly.


As a business owner, having a solid understanding of IT infrastructure can significantly enhance your decision-making process. It helps you to make more informed decisions regarding your technology investments by understanding the concepts related to servers, networks, data centres, and cloud computing. 

For example, when considering scaling your business operations, knowing about scalability in IT infrastructure enables you to evaluate whether your current systems can handle increased demands or need to invest in additional resources.

Familiarity with virtualisation and cloud computing also allows you to assess the potential benefits of moving specific applications or services to the cloud, such as increased flexibility and reduced hardware costs. Moreover, knowledge of IT service management and ITIL practices enables you to establish efficient IT processes and align your technology initiatives with your business goals. 

Overall, being well-informed about IT infrastructure empowers you to make strategic decisions that optimise performance, security, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, ultimately driving the success and competitiveness of your business.

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