Understanding Infrastructure in .NET

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major influences on the IT architecture. There is no point in designing an infrastructure that is outside of what management would support. The design team needs to be aware of the company s existing boundaries, whether cost- or business risk-related, and have a good idea of what is possible to achieve and what solution sets to avoid. When a company values a high level of control and is willing to be responsible for its own information technology systems, there is a strong bias for doing things in-house. Contractors and consultants help internal staff along on new projects when needed, but the ultimate control and responsibility for daily operations or new implementation projects rests within the CIO s staff, and the boardroom values the capability to control outcomes. Another organization s management may have the opposite values and may want to outsource most or all of its IT operations because of a belief that with the outsourcing goes the responsibility. While responsibility for the duties associated with daily operations of IT systems may be easily distanced from management through outsourcing, the liability for the adequacy of controls and privacy protection may not be fully transferred. Contractual relationships include having satisfactory language to define your needs for the security components. The organization s values certainly will influence how IT design objectives are accomplished. The IT architecture team must take the time to become knowledgeable of the management values and accommodate those influences in their processes. Even if outsourcing may be the guidance received, it is still necessary to figure out and articulate the objectives and requirements in total to include in any procurement contract or service agreements for external services. In the same way, a company placing a high value on using business partners to help achieve short-term objectives may lead to doing a staged implementation of the design with multiple sources of outside assistance over time.
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Certainly, designing an entire IT system s infrastructure from the ground up is the dream job of every CTO (chief technology officer). Rarely do such opportunities present themselves, though. In most cases the company s CTO and IT design teams start with what is already in place. Inherited infrastructures are often hard to rip out and replace because computers, applications, and networks have to support the added business with its existing processes for some number of months. Organizations facing the need for improvements may be heavily invested in existing infrastructure. Parts of that infrastructure may have been planned, while other parts may have been added simply as an outcome of decisions that occurred over time with no real spotlight on a vision for what it should become.
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Combining External Forces, Internal Influences, and IT Assets
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As you begin sizing up infrastructure, reflect on how the following essential considerations will play out in your design elements:
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Life cycle of devices Security policies Physical access controls
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Assessing Device Life Cycles
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Infrastructure is the hard goods in the IT space. It is those things that are physical or operate at a physical level: the servers, networks, routers, switches, and even the desktops, notebooks, and handheld equipment. Nothing lasts forever, so each of these items of infrastructure has an expected life cycle. Things that influence the life cycle are the availability of in-kind replacements, spare parts, and factory-authorized support. Operating system and firmware support also affect the length of the life cycle of infrastructure items. As you classify and categorize the items in your design or existing environment, some thought should go to calculating a reasonable expected service life of each component. (Categories are discussed in the Exploring Infrastructure Categories section later in the chapter.) The expected service life for items in each category enables you to plan a replacement cycle for that category of goods, making budget forecasting easier. Each time equipment replacement occurs, there s a potential impact on the architecture functionality because newer, better, faster, or improved versions may allow for added features that were not practical with the earlier versions of the equipment. Consideration for the influence of device life cycles on the various components of infrastructure should lead to a replacement or upgrade schedule. A plan may put desktop replacements in year one, servers in year two, application software in year three, network equipment in year four, and so on as a starting point. That approach gives a resident IT architecture team an opportunity to get in front of the challenges that will come with changes to each of the categories.
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