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infrastructure (IT infrastructure)

Infrastructure is the foundation or framework that supports a system or organization. In computing, infrastructure is composed of physical and virtual resources that support the flow, storage, processing and analysis of data. Infrastructure may be centralized within a data center, or it may be decentralized and spread across several data centers that are either controlled by the organization or by a third party, such as a colocation facility or cloud provider.

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In a data center, infrastructure includes the power, cooling and building elements necessary to support hardware. On the internet, infrastructure also includes transmission media, such as cables, satellites, antennas, routers, aggregators, repeaters and other network components that control transmission paths. Cloud computing provides a flexible IT infrastructure in which resources can be added and removed as workloads change. In an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model, a third-party provider hosts hardware, software, servers, storage and other infrastructure components on behalf of its users.

The way IT infrastructures are created is continually changing. Today, some vendors provide pre-engineered blocks of compute, storage and network equipment that optimize the IT hardware and virtualization platform into a single system that can be easily interconnected to other systems. This modular approach is called converged infrastructure.

Regardless of how it is created, an IT infrastructure must provide a suitable platform for all the necessary IT applications and functions an organization or individual requires. Viewing IT infrastructure as a single entity can result in better effectiveness and more efficiency. It allows resources to be optimized for different workloads, and the impact of any changes on interrelated resources to be more readily understood and handled.

Infrastructure management is sometimes divided into categories of systems management, network management, and storage management. Hands-off infrastructure management uses a software-defined approach to management and automation to minimize the need for physical interaction with infrastructure components.

Types of infrastructures

An immutable infrastructure is an approach to managing services and software deployments on IT resources wherein components are replaced rather than changed. An application or services is effectively redeployed each time any change occurs.

A composable infrastructure is a framework that treats physical compute, storage and network fabric resources as services. Resources are logically pooled so that administrators don’t have to physically configure hardware to support a specific software application.

A dynamic infrastructure is a framework that can automatically provision and adjust itself as workload demands change. IT administrators can also choose to manage these resources manually.

A critical infrastructure is a framework whose assets are so essential that their continued operation is required to ensure the security of a given nation, its economy, and the public’s health and/or safety.

A contact center infrastructure is a framework composed of the physical and virtual resources that a call center facility needs to operate effectively. Infrastructure components include automatic call distributors, integrated voice response units, computer-telephony integration and queue management.

A cloud infrastructure includes an abstraction layer that virtualizes resources and logically presents them to users over the internet through application program interfaces and API-enabled command-line or graphical interfaces.

A dark infrastructure is that part of a framework that is composed of undocumented but active software or services whose existence and function is unknown to system administrators — despite the fact that it may be integral to the continued operation of documented infrastructure.

A cloud storage infrastructure is a framework composed of hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or public cloud storage service.

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