Storage, backup, software hosting, remote access, messaging … IT infrastructure has become essential within your company and fulfills many functions.
We interact with our servers on a daily basis , but do not always understand how they work. And for good reason, they can take different forms to meet a wide variety of needs.
In a series of articles, we will discuss the main existing solutions, their interests, but also their constraints.
SIZE YOUR INFRASTRUCTURE
Your needs vary depending on the size of your business, your type of marketing (online or in-store sales) … In addition, the scope of your infrastructure can be confined to backing up your data, or encompass all of your business processes. job.
For these reasons, it is essential to clearly identify your needs, in order to properly size your server. With the help of your service provider, you will be able to determine the power and volume of your server, as well as the architecture you want to give to your IT infrastructure.
Remember that information systems change rapidly, and so do your needs. Foresight is important in order to anticipate your future needs, and to adapt your IT infrastructure accordingly.
BUSINESS RECOVERY AND CONTINUITY
“ How long can your computer system downtime can you tolerate ?” », If it is tempting to say “none,” this question is worth considering carefully. Depending on your activity, an exceptional cut in your computer system will impact more or less on your production, with the financial consequences that this implies.
Solutions exist under the names of PRA (Business Recovery Plan) and PCA (Business Continuity Plan). These solutions come at a cost that will increase exponentially as you approach zero tolerance.
PRA: This is about getting your IT infrastructure back into operation, degraded or not. Importing a backup, lending a replacement server, “degraded mode” recovery plan, etc. The time to disaster recovery will depend on many factors, such as ease of access to your equipment or the complexity of your IT infrastructure.
Each component has a given lifespan and can therefore fail after a certain period of time. Your internet connection can also be cut abruptly and prevent the transition of information between remote sites.
To deal with these phenomena, the main solution is to redundant the key elements of your installation. This has a cost but allows never to have service interruption. Redundancy is therefore essential in the event that a prolonged outage would generate excessively high losses.
Recovery and business continuity strategies are an important factor to consider when choosing an IT solution. They will be greatly impacted by the elements described below.
MATRIX OF SOLUTIONS
Given the complexity of the subject, it is impossible to list all the existing solutions. However, it is possible to place them in the following matrix.
Thus, it is quite possible to have part of your infrastructure in a data center but to keep your backup within your company, or vice versa. Likewise, you can group all of your uses on a virtualized server, but keep a dedicated mail server , externalized or not.
LOCAL OR OUTSOURCED SOLUTION?
- Local solution
Your server can work within your company so you don’t need an internet connection to access it. In addition, if you have an IT team, they can intervene quickly and physically on your IT system.
Maintaining a server requires certain precautions, however. This is noisy equipment that must be kept away from your employees. In addition, it heats up and requires a cooling system, such as air conditioning for example. For these reasons, it may require a dedicated room.
Certain protections are also to be provided, such as an inverter to avoid cuts in the event of a breakdown, and a lightning rod to avoid risks due to thunderstorms. It is also sensitive and expensive equipment that must be protected from possible malicious behavior.
- Solution outsourced
With the meteoric rise in data speeds, it is now easy to outsource your infrastructure within a data center, and access it via an internet connection. This is not always possible because some areas are still poorly covered by telecom solutions. It is therefore important to know your possibilities at this level before choosing an IT solution.
An outsourced solution makes you dependent on your internet line. On the other hand, you avoid all the constraints related to the management of a server. What is more, your service provider will have total control over your installation. He will be able to monitor it more effectively and intervene physically with ease.
Several modes of outsourcing are possible: either you place your equipment in a datacenter, or you rent a virtual machine on a server from your service provider.
DEDICATED OR VIRTUALIZED SERVER
Your IT infrastructure must meet many needs. For the sake of security and performance, each need must be handled on a different server. Several solutions are possible, here are the main ones:
You can allocate one physical server per usage. You will thus have a storage server, a mail server, a sharing server, a DNS server, etc.
The interest of dedicated servers is the dissociation of the physical layer between the different uses. In other words, you can dedicate a server to your critical functions, especially those that allow you to manage your infrastructure, such as Active Directory. This will allow you to shut down some physical servers without completely interrupting your production.
In addition, dedicated servers limit the risk that a hardware failure could shut down your entire infrastructure.
On the contrary, you can only use one machine to cover all your needs. Your servers will be partitioned using virtual machine software. These consist of a machine within the machine, with its own allocation of resources, and its own rules. For example, you can have a physical server, comprising 4 virtual machines, each dedicated to a specific function.
The main advantage of this solution is flexibility. You can allocate additional resources to one of your virtual servers at any time, due to additional users for example. This is possible within the limits of the available performance of the host physical server.
In addition, your infrastructure is centralized and therefore easier and faster to manage.
Also, in the event that you had to use a backup to restore a server, its application would be greatly facilitated. For good reason, the backup of a virtual machine is an image of the latter, where a backup of a physical machine only concerns its operating system.
To conclude , the types of infrastructure discussed here are at the ends of the matrix, but chances are your solution is a balance between the latter.
In other words, the turnkey solution that adapts to all trades does not exist. Fortunately, the possibilities have never been more numerous than today. Your service provider will be able to assist you in building an infrastructure that perfectly matches your needs, your budget and your medium and long-term vision.