IT teams are often caught in a balancing act. They’re forced to juggle many disparate systems while responding to the fire drills they each present. Regardless of the industry, IT infrastructure management is defined by the struggle to maintain servers, networks, firewalls, data storage, and backup systems functioning properly at all times.
That being said, what these fires are and how they are best dealt with have changed over time as new systems arise to the market and introduce new problems. This makes the task more challenging to understand and more difficult to solve.
This article will analyze the most significant IT infrastructure management challenges facing modern enterprises, and offer the reasons and possible solutions to each one.
The top 5 IT infrastructure management challenges & solutions:
1. Increasing complexity
While IT infrastructure has never been a simple topic, it would be hard to argue that the practice has not drastically changed over the last few decades. Indeed, modern IT infrastructure diagrams would be practically unrecognizable to IT managers of yesterday. The development of support systems such as Hubspot allows for more interactivity over a business network. However, they place a greater demand on it than 1st generation systems, which mostly facilitated one-way traffic.
Developing intelligent systems, such as chatbots, also poses severe obstacles to those unfamiliar with automation technologies or artificial intelligence. This is, in part, due to engineers being unfamiliar with automated systems, and also due to a lack of existing IT infrastructure to accommodate automated systems. For example, a network engineer at a retail enterprise might not want to adapt to intelligent systems, or it might be the case that they may not have the technology to use them even if they wanted to.
The solution: Although network engineers often cite increased complexity as their major concern in modern IT infrastructures, automation minimizes the need for human intervention in network management. This frees up network engineers to handle larger tasks as the more granular work falls to automated processes. There is indeed a learning curve to these systems. However, the perks of built-in data scripting capabilities help maintain your uptime and keep administrators engaged in their work without getting bogged down by granular, routine tasks.
Similarly, IT systems with self-healing capabilities can automatically sense when they are not fully optimized and make necessary changes to repair themselves. Systems offering these capabilities may pose something of an initial challenge to administrators. Still, it’s essential to recognize that they also provide far more benefits for that work.
2. Demand for more availability and security
The solution: Infrastructure management solutions offer redundant virtual network functions (VNF) in the form of routers, firewalls, switches, and 5G backup for 24/7 availability, all while minimizing the endpoints that complicate remote networks.
More fundamental is the question of perception. Availability and security shouldn’t be thought of simply as a problem and solution (i.e., tossing water on fire). Instead, it’s important to think about the long term and choose security solutions to accommodate growth and drastic changes. This ensures that your infrastructure grows with you, offering a scalable solution for an enterprise of any size.
3. Lack Integration & vendor freedom
As the recent conversation around SASE and SSE has taught us, all-in-one solutions are rarely ever genuinely available. Most IT infrastructure is a conglomeration of different features and services provided by other vendors, each of which has its own software and interface used to manage them.
Without integrating these different vendor solutions according to the companies’ needs, they often have to compromise on features, security, redundancy, etc.—making building a truly custom-fit network difficult. This inflated infrastructure can lead to feature overlap, where the same safety feature covered by multiple vendors causes authentication problems in a network’s infrastructure.
The solution: Flexibility and agility are key here; enterprises need to adopt a network infrastructure that can accommodate their exact needs and adapt when those needs change. This requires a Linux-based solution that accommodates multi-vendor environments and 100% unique customization options. This unifies the IT infrastructure under a single umbrella and gives enterprises options to adjust their IT networks when necessary.
4. Multiple devices
IT managers working with an enterprise network have a massive variety of equipment to work with to make their networks function efficiently. This equipment might include, but is not limited to:
- Servers, switches, and routers
- Out of band hardware for remote users
- Data Backup and configuration devices
- Cellular failover boxes
With so much to keep track of, each new device is something more than an engineer needs to keep track of. This becomes even worse as end-of-life (EOD) solutions are replaced once a manufacturer deems them no longer useful. For example, the network for a national bank is naturally more work than a local bakery, even on the basis of how many devices a network engineer needs to keep track of.
The solution: The critical problem here is that networks with more devices have more points of failure. While it’s often not realistic to limit the number of devices or pieces of hardware on a network, it is possible to use hardware solutions that bring those devices together under a single management UI. This unifies the data logging process and keeps your network functioning efficiently. Another solution comes in consolidated devices, which perform multiple duties usually operated by just one device. This reduces the space used on network servers and reduces energy costs associated with maintaining the network.
5. Legacy devices
As networks modernize, they quickly leave older devices behind. These “legacy devices” are outdated and incapable of integrating with modern software by themselves. As a result, they slow down workflow and pose significant security risks since security programs have difficulty protecting their data.
These devices pose a real problem for modern networks because, despite their inherent flaws, enterprises still insist on using them, citing staff familiarity and high replacement costs as reasons for keeping them around. For example, 53% of healthcare devices still operate on Windows 7, which Microsoft no longer supports. Unless those devices are updated, the data on those devices cannot be properly secured by modern networks.
The solution: Although legacy devices can’t interact with modern network software on their own, it is possible to use specialized equipment to bring them into the IT network. The Nodegrid serial console, for example, allows administrators to monitor and secure legacy devices using a centralized user interface. This can be used as a long-term solution if the company prefers; however, it can also be used while the company completely migrates the legacy data to a modern counterpart. This offers enterprises the best of both worlds—staff and business owners get to keep the most familiar systems. At the same time, network administrators can ensure that networks are kept as safe and efficient as possible.
Overcoming IT infrastructure management challenges
IT management solutions offer availability and flexibility for modern network needs, while integrating with third-party vendors and legacy systems. These features work to unify devices and hardware under a single, user-friendly UI that uses automation and intelligent systems to take the brunt of the routine tasks off of administrators, freeing them to focus on more specialized tasks. Finally, these solutions must be scalable, offering options to grow with the business as it grows.