The Top 5 Reasons for IT Infrastructure Standardization
Your business is dependent on technology improvements. Unavoidable fact: Regardless of your organization’s size, an IT environment that is controllable, inexpensive, and appropriate for its intended use is required. As a DevOps engineer, I have seen this time and time again with companies trying to combine multiple systems they inherited from vendors, through mergers, or other business ventures. In this article, I hope to share with you the top 5 reasons for IT infrastructure standardization. I will also show you how even just a change in thought can make a world of difference.
The difficulty of this grows in direct proportion to the size of your company. As businesses grow and IT systems evolve to meet the demands of new business activities and problems, IT systems may become inefficient and costly to maintain as new technologies and procedures are added. Think about if every single user has to connect to the same server or system at the same time. In smaller environments with improperly sized machines, that becomes a pain point and hinders productivity.
Standardizing your IT architecture is advantageous for this reason. Although the degree to which standardization is achievable varies depending on the business conditions – such as the industry, the size of the organization, and the budget — many benefits are available across the board.
1. Ease of Maintenance and Updates
When you have a complex network of diverse systems in operation, it might be tough to send out patches or upgrades that affect your entire staff. Therefore for the first reason of the top 5 reasons for IT infrastructure standardization, I will highlight the ease of maintenance and updates. As a general rule, the more intricate your infrastructure, the more difficult it is to make critical changes quickly and effectively.
Think about a fire station. I am going to draw a simile between a fire station and a company’s mismanaged infrastructure. The only issue with this analogy is one twist. You can only fight a certain type of fire with one hose and one truck. Now wouldn’t it be inefficient and bad for the fire if the fireman have to find the right tool and truck before even leaving? This is similar to a badly managed environment. The longer it takes to find the right server and learn how it works, the longer it takes to fix the issue — or put out the fire!
With common equipment and standardization, we can utilize automation to patch all of the machines at once! As a result, any necessary software changes, for example, may be accomplished faster and with less downtime, resulting in lower costs. Therefore, you will be able to function more agilely because your company will be more responsive to changing business needs.
2. Common tools
The more complex your infrastructure, the more time your IT team will have to spend maintaining and developing it. Four optic two in the top 5 reasons for IT infrastructure standardization, I will show how we can leverage common tools. A network, for example, made up of physical components and services from several vendors and has a multiplicity of elements, each with its own set of maintenance requirements.
Standardized equipment is generally easier to maintain. Consider that the installation of a piece of business software that may demand the installation of required software. Then think about staff training, maintenance, repair, upgrades, patching, and other services. When all of your equipment performs in the same way, these maintenance issues become much easier to address. Consistency also enables your IT personnel to specialize in managing a limited number vendors and models of say firewalls and switches, rather than multiple vendors. Think about the pain needed to manage that one firewall in that one closet somewhere.
When you standardize your infrastructure, you can plan ahead more readily since a simpler network with standard hardware can expand more quickly. In a lot of cases, hardware/software by the same vendor plays nicely with other hardware or software from the same vendor. This should not be interpreted as the ‘end all be all’ and that sticking with one vendor is the best, just good to keep in min.
Extending Point 1 further, we can even use automation tools out there to manage every device at once, even some of the more complex networking! I always try to use my standard agents and tools that I deploy on every host that allows Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM), security applications, and any configuration tools needed.
3. Leveraging Automation will be easier
Leveraging automation in a standardized infrastructure will be considerably easier since every piece of equipment is well-documented and it is easier to implement according to that. You will also don’t need to make any major changes in the automation workflows since even newly purchased equipment or virtual machines will follow the preset standards. Your employees will also not have to intervene in the automation workflow since either the process will be fully automated or will definite protocols to be followed.
In a lot of cases, Remote management tools have a primitive automation platform on them. In cases like this, we can standardize automation schemes because we know where everything is and how it works.
4. Vendor Relations and Bulk Purchasing
The standardization of your IT infrastructure helps to lower the overall complexity of your systems. This reduces both the cost of initial procurement as well as the cost of routine maintenance.
Purchasing standardized infrastructure reduces the number of vendors or providers you have to deal with, which simplifies your billing and procurement processes. Additionally, upgrading all of your equipment at the same time is normally more cost-effective, and purchasing more equipment in bigger quantities from a single source may allow you to negotiate a better deal.
Complex systems involving equipment from several vendors bring with them significant integration costs as a result of their complexity. Naturally, reducing the number of providers involved lowers this cost. Computing, storage, and networking resources can all be combined into a single unified system that can be handled through an intuitive single-user interface in some modern approaches to IT infrastructure.
5. Using Virtual Machine Templates
The first and most obvious benefit of employing virtual machine templates is increased efficiency. The use of templates can eliminate a large number of recurring installation and configuration chores. A fully installed, ready to operate (virtual) server is produced in a fraction of the time required for manual installation.
As a result of the large number of processes that must be repeated during the installation of each virtual machine, this strategy is not only extremely time and labor heavy, but it is also highly error-prone. Build a base template including the essentials of your server image, and then create an extra template providing the production environment parts, and then just manually install the remaining software when the server image is finally deployed.
So there it is, there is The Top 5 reasons for IT infrastructure standardization. When you are beginning from scratch or when you have determined that a comprehensive renovation and overhaul of your IT infrastructure is required for business operations, infrastructure standardization is the most straightforward process. However, it is not always possible to completely remove your previous systems. This is completely understandable. One thing to be mindful of working with these legacy systems is to bring them as much as we can into compliance. Even if it is not EXACTLY standardized with the rest of the systems, it would be much easier to manage and ‘put put fires’ with.
It is important to remember to combine your IT support needs with the needs of your employees when considering infrastructure standardization. If at all feasible, involve your employees in the decision-making process and solicit their input on the systems they require to perform their jobs effectively, their priorities, and any problems or pain points they have with the tools they now use. It’s possible that your present network of systems is already less cost-effective than you had anticipated it to be.
Matthew J Fitzgerald is an experienced DevOps engineer, Company Founder, Author, and Programmer. He Founded Fitzgerald Tech Solutions and several other startups. He enjoys playing in his homelab, gardening, playing the drums, rooting for Chicago and Purdue sports, and hanging out with friends.