Articles 23/06/2022

Reliable IT infrastructure checklist: 5 questions that demand a positive answer

A modern company’s IT infrastructure is the basis that helps solve business tasks effectively. We at SIM-Networks have been providing infrastructure services for over 10 years. This experience allows us to say that creating a company’s technological foundation requires a comprehensive approach. It’s not enough to buy a server or a cloud: the computing platform demands a set of conditions that will turn it into a coordinated system. In this article, we have formulated a checklist of 5 questions you should ask yourself when creating a reliable IT infrastructure.

IT infrastructure checklist

1. Is my IT infrastructure prepared for hardware failures?

Even if you use reliable equipment, hardware failures are always a risk. That is why each element of the system must have a reserve copy for fault tolerance. Redundancy must be organized on the architectural level and within each individual node using technology such as RAID. The data center where your infrastructure is located also affects availability. It is advisable to choose a data center classified as Tier III or above. The availability of servers in such data centers does not depend on a single power source, cooling system etc.

The specifics of organizing fault tolerance largely depend on the infrastructural platform. For example, the architecture of cloud platforms allows virtual machines to use the resources of another physical server if a node happens to fail. This switch happens automatically and without interrupting the VM’s functioning. In addition, some cloud providers offer multiple availability zones – independent segments of a single infrastructure. Each segment uses its own computing nodes, power supply systems, cooling systems etc. Hardware failures in one availability zone will not affect the servers in the other zone.

Creating a fault-tolerant infrastructure based on traditional server solutions is a more expensive task. Server clustering is the most reliable way to achieve this goal. The technology unites dedicated servers into a single system so that the machines can seamlessly transfer workloads in case of failures. When considering this solution, compare the potential costs with the company’s actual need for computing resources. If your business needs the power of multiple physical servers to solve tasks effectively, a cluster will become a reliable foundation for your fault-tolerant system.

2. Have I organized reserve data copying?

Reserve copying is vital to protect your data in case of hardware failures. Reserve copies should be stored both in the same data center where your main infrastructure located and on a remote platform. The first option will allow you recover data quickly; the second option will guarantee that failures in the main data center won’t affect the backups. This task can be solved by renting space for a remote data center. However, one should consider that the company will have to solve a number of technological and logistical issues, such as organizing security & cooling systems, hiring system administrators etc. These hurdles may be justified if the company’s industry prohibits storing data on third-party platforms. Otherwise, renting a rack in a data center or uploading backups to a provider’s remote storage is a simpler option.

When choosing a backup solution, consider which type of reserve copying best fits your goals. Upload and recovery speed are the main factors to be evaluated, along with storage space usage. For example, incremental reserve copying uploads files that have changed since the last backup was created. This solution helps recover data quickly and save storage space. On the contrary, differential reserve copying uploads files that have changed since the last full backup. This improves recovery time significantly as opposed to incremental backups; however, this technology also uses more storage space.

It would be incorrect to state that one backup type is better than another as such. Each solution has its own use-cases that depend on the company’s priorities. For example, our cloud BaaS service uses incremental copying – the balance between recovery speed and storage space usage covers the needs of the vast majority of clients. However, if the specifics of your business justify extra spending on storage to further improve business continuity, differential backups may be a good choice for you.

3. Is my infrastructure protected from malicious actors?

Data security is a crucial factor to consider when creating an IT infrastructure. This includes both technological measures and physical ones: video surveillance, hardware-based encryption, firewalls, access rights, VPN connections etc. Neglecting these conditions ca be detrimental to your business, which is why companies need to be prepared to invest time and resources into security.

Storing your infrastructure on-premises often comes with risks – this is particularly true of businesses in their early stages of development. Organizing proper security systems may be financially unviable for a company; one would have to purchase equipment and hire experts to implement the project. Our experience demonstrates that storing hardware in a data center is more financially accessible and reliable in most cases. Renting a rack in a secure data center as part of the colocation service does not require any long-term investment while offering protection beyond the capabilities of many companies.

The jurisdiction in which your infrastructure is located also affects data security. It is advisable to store your data in countries with up-to-date laws regarding cyber security – this way, you can be confident that any attempts to access your data illegally will be prosecuted. If your company has branches and offices in multiple countries, this can be organized using your business’ resources. When looking into this option, make sure that your company’s plans align with the legal aspects of storing data in your country of choice.

4. Can I solve any issues with my infrastructure quickly?

It is important to have the ability to recover your system as quickly as possible in case of failures. This requires the involvement of competent experts and the establishment of algorithms for any scenario – for example, your system administrator must know where to get a new SSD if it needs to be replaces urgently. These algorithms have to be established from the first stages of creating the infrastructure. It is also important that this information be documented and available to relevant specialists. This way, the protocol won’t be lost when a new employee takes the duties over.

One should also log all changes and updates in the IT infrastructure. Losing this data or not documenting in in a timely manner may lead to issues during everyday maintenance or during the next stages of modernization. These issues are well-illustrated by an IT infrastructure migration case encountered by SIM-Networks experts. The client could not provide an up-to-date map of the network topology – the system was modernized multiple times and the changes were not logged properly. This factor did not have a critical impact on the project; however, the lost documentation could have helped speed up certain stages of the pre-project evaluation.

If a company rents its IT resources, the speed and effectiveness of problem-solving depend on the provider’s support. It is vital that your business gets a consultation or technical assistance in the shortest timeframe possible. For this reason, we advise that you choose a provider with round-the-clock technical support. This will significantly lower your infrastructure’s downtime in case of critical failures. Pay attention to the provider’s overall approach to business – as a rule, providers that prioritize mass sales dedicate less time and fewer resources to solving the issues of an individual client. The guaranteed response time documented in the SLA is a sign of a reliable provider. However, it’s best to evaluate the quality of support based on practice. Reach out to a potential provider for a consultation; the actual response time and the helpfulness of the response will give you a good idea of the vendor’s approach to customer support.

5. Is scaling my IT infrastructure simple?

A company’s IT infrastructure must be able to scale as the business grows. The system must cover the current needs of the company, as well as maintain an excess of resources for future goals. If your company needs to replace the components of a physical server, you would be well-advised to simplify this tasks by establishing contacts with reliable vendors beforehand. This way, the new equipment will arrive in a short timeframe to help you quickly adapt to new demands.

Some infrastructural solutions scale more quickly than others due to their architecture. The public cloud is the most popular example; this solution allows you to add resources in the control panel in just a couple of clicks in the control panel. Private clouds also allow you to create new virtual machines at any moment. Note, however, that the price of the private cloud does not change based on resource usage if a company is renting the platform.

Creating a hybrid infrastructure is one of the ways of solving the issue of scaling, both economically and technologically. For example, a company can maintain its own private cloud for critical services and stable day-to-day tasks. The public cloud can be engaged as needed to tackle a specific project or to handle a seasonal traffic surge effectively. This solution eliminates the need to overpay for resources in the private cloud or to purchase new equipment to expand it.

Public Cloud

Public cloud

Learn more about the highly available public SIM-Cloud

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How do I organize these conditions for my IT infrastructure?

Building an IT infrastructure can be an expensive and complicated process for companies wishing to use their own resources for the task. The business in question will have to hire specialists with relevant experience, set aside a significant budget and be prepared for the process to take a long time.

There is an alternative – a company can build a reliable system and meet the conditions of the checklist with minimal expenses by enlisting the help of an IT infrastructure provider. For example, our public cloud was built with 2N+1 component redundancy on the architectural level while dedicated servers scale quickly thanks to established contacts with leading hardware vendors.

We use this technological basis to offer comprehensive services that come with full support for the client, from setting up custom network configurations to full or partial data migration. If you want to learn more, reach out to the Customer Care team – we will get back to you and provide a consultation within 1 hour.

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