IT infrastructure is composed of seven major components:
- Computer hardware platforms include client machines and server machines, as well as modern mainframes produced by IBM. Blade servers are ultrathin servers, intended for a single dedicated application, and are mounted in space-saving racks.
- Operating system platforms include platforms for client computers, dominated by Windows operating systems, and servers, dominated by the various forms of the UNIX operating system or Linux. Operating systems are software that manage the resources and activities of the computer and act as an interface for the user.
- Enterprise and other software applications include SAP, Oracle, and PeopleSoft, and middleware software that are used to link a firm's existing application systems.
- Data management and storage is handled by database management software and storage devices include traditional storage methods, such as disk arrays and tape libraries, and newer network-based storage technologies such as storage area networks (SANs). SANs connect multiple storage devices on dedicated high-speed networks.
- Networking and telecommunications platforms include Windows server operating systems, Novell, Linux, and UNIX. Nearly all LAN and many wide area networks (WANs) use the TCP/IP standards for networking.
- Internet platforms overlap with, and must relate to, the firm's general networking infrastructure and hardware and software platforms. Internet-related infrastructure includes the hardware, software and services to maintain corporate Web sites, intranets, and extranets, including Web hosting services and Web software application development tools. A Web hosting service maintains a large Web server, or series of servers, and provides fee-paying subscribers with space to maintain their Web sites.
- Consulting and system integration services are relied on for integrating a firm's legacy systems with new technology and infrastructure and providing expertise in implementing new infrastructure along with relevant changes in business processes, training, and software integration. Legacy systems are generally older transaction processing systems created for mainframe computers that continue to be used to avoid the high cost of replacing or redesigning them.
FIGURE 5-10 THE IT INFRASTRUCTURE ECOSYSTEM
There are seven major components that must be coordinated to provide the firm with a coherent IT infrastructure. Listed here are major technologies and suppliers for each component.