IT Infrastructure Essentials

If you inherit an existing IT infrastructure or create a new one from the ground up, critical technology and policies need to be introduced in order to maintain a secure and stable climate. Through years of providing information systems / networks administration / implementation services, I have achieved a high level of customer satisfaction through implementation of the following solutions / strategies.Find additional information at Sinisi Solutions-Fire Barriers.

Backup / Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan-If the environment consists of a single desktop with a few gigabytes of data, or a large organization with terabytes of data, a backup strategy and DR plan need to be identified, implemented, and most importantly checked. Although cloud backup solutions provide all the security without any of the hassle, traditional backup technologies such as tape still provide an effective solution. The goal should not be simply to enforce a data backup strategy, but a solution for data recovery. In case of an emergency, DR plans can consist of a replicated site location with identical equipment on standby, or simply ordering new equipment and restoring backups if necessary. Generally, the development of a DR plan starts by asking management the question, “What would happen to your business tomorrow if the office were burning down tonight?”

Supported Hardware / Software-Having an infrastructure running on old hardware that does not have a support contract with the vendor will eventually lead to backup data being restored or your DR plan becoming reality. This encompasses your servers, switches , routers, phones and even printers. The physical equipment does not just need support, but your applications do as well. Having vendor support significantly decreases the amount of time spent getting things to work again when they break, and believe me they do, which contributes to improved company efficiency.

Power / AC-I think this one is pretty much a no brainer. None of the servers or devices on the network can run without power, and all generate heat. Nevertheless, I will stress the importance of an uninterruptable quality power supply ( UPS). Not only does a good UPS supply your systems with battery backup power in the event of a power failure, but also provides your equipment with a much cleaner power / voltage stream that protects your equipment from power spikes and surges. Obviously AC is required to prevent overheating of the systems and cause damage to their internal components.

Network Monitoring-If there is one thing I’ve told my clients over and over again, it’s that monitoring the network is much more than just pinging network devices. While ping tests are great to ensure devices respond to network traffic, they give endpoints nothing more than a pulse, and warn you only after anything has failed. Effective monitoring of the network consists of polling CPU , Memory, Network Use, Temperature, Windows Services, Disk Space, Power Supply Units, Fans, Event Logs, etc. Much of this monitoring is made possible by the Simple Network Management Protocol ( SNMP), and most network devices and operating systems support this. A well-developed network monitoring system can alert administrators to the onset of issues before they become critical and affect end-user business productivity.

Redundancy-For network administrators to face a difficult reality is that there’s no way to avoid hardware failures-all network hardware will eventually go bad one day and stop working. One way to avoid being caught off guard by failed hardware is to plan for this fact. Eliminating as many single points of failure as possible in your network will ensure that business will continue to run when a critical component fails-hopefully without any significant impact on end-users. It’s critical to identify the single points of failure in your network and to plan for when they fail. One thing I’ve discovered throughout my years of IT consulting is that no matter how much redundancy you can afford to build into your network, a single point of failure will always be present.

Firewall-Security is generally one of the biggest concerns of my clients regarding their network infrastructure. The quickest and most effective way to keep your network safe from the outside world is to implement a hardened firewall device. Not only do firewalls block unwanted traffic but they also offer other benefits. If the business requires one of your applications to be facing the public, then it should be architectured in a DMZ with a front-end application server to avoid direct access to your internal network. While dedicated SSL VPN devices are best suited for remote access, many of today’s market firewalls offer built-in VPN features that cater for remote end users. For every network infrastructure a firewall is an absolute necessity, no matter how big the business is.