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What is Network Infrastructure?

In simple terms, network infrastructure is the combination of the software and hardware components which help build, run, and maintain an IT network. The IT network, in turn, is one of the most critical parts of an organisation’s IT infrastructure.

The network infrastructure enables connectivity and communication between users, devices, apps, the internet and other business-critical operations, so it is therefore essential to ensure you have a reliable, safe, robust and scalable network infrastructure in place.

Without the right network infrastructure, you may suffer issues such as poor performance, user experience, and security issues. Issues arising from poor network infrastructure can impact employee productivity, cost you money and damage your brand. Mintivo can work with you to deliver optimum productivity and help your organisation to maintain peak levels of performance and service.

What are the main network infrastructure components?

Network infrastructure can include various hardware devices, software applications, and network services, such as:

Hardware infrastructure: This is likely to include routers, switches, hubs, repeaters, gateways, bridges, and modems.

Software infrastructure: The software applications will enable monitoring and management tools and operating systems.

Network services: This will include networking protocols such as TCP, UDP, and IP addressing.

Organisations can extend their IT network by integrating with third-party services from managed service providers (MSPs), such as Mintivo, or may build their own hybrid network infrastructure if they have the internal skill-set to do so, by integrating their on-premises infrastructure with cloud services.

Is there a difference between network infrastructure and IT infrastructure?

Yes, there is. An organisation’s network infrastructure enables the entire IT infrastructure to run effectively. Information technology (IT) infrastructure is most commonly referred to as the physical components like the hardware used in an organisation, but it can also encompass some network or software components as well.

Generally, the network infrastructure is considered to be the infrastructure that underpins the entirety of the systems utilised by an organisation. It is therefore crucial to configure and manage the right network infrastructure for your organisation and appoint a management service that understands your requirements fully.

Mintivo can discuss what your specific requirements are and create a support package suitable for your circumstances which can include monitoring, virtualisation projects, audits, capacity planning, consultancy, solution design, performance improvements as well as disaster recovery and business continuity.

What is network infrastructure management?

Ensuring you have the right network infrastructure in place is key for a growing business. As with any structure within your organisation, effective management of the network is imperative. Network infrastructure management will ensure your network operates optimally for your organisation. It will identify issues, rectify problems and be able to advise you on what expansions to your network will be required as you scale your growing business.

Network infrastructure management tends to include the following five aspects of networking:

Network Infrastructure Monitoring

This is usually done by utilising a network infrastructure monitoring system which will continuously monitor your network and report problems. This can be done manually, but won’t be as effective. By monitoring your entire system, the network manager will be able to identify and rectify issues swiftly. An example of this could be spotting that a router is receiving more data traffic than it can handle. By identifying the situation early, action can be taken before it crashes, ensuring business continuity.

Configuration Management

Ensuring that your network devices are configured correctly ensures optimum performance. Configuring your entire network and ensuring your devices, applications and software are patched, upgraded, and replaced in a timely fashion is also important. Network managers may implement automated systems to track and manage configuration implementation and changes.

Performance Management

A variety of metrics will be put into place to maintain a minimum level of network speeds and outputs required so that your business operations or service levels aren’t negatively affected. Critical metrics which impact performance tend to include available network capacity, bandwidth utilisation, latency (the delay in network communication) and throughput (the amount of data travelling from its source to its destination in a given amount of time).

Fault Management

If faults do occur, it is essential to determine the root cause, fix the issue and ensure it doesn’t recur. Network infrastructure managers can implement tools which can apply automated remediation when problems occur, which can improve efficiency and the average (or mean) time it takes to recover normal service levels (often referred to as MTTR).

Security Management

It is imperative to ensure that your entire network infrastructure is protected since your IT network is critical to business operations and service. There are various network-based cyber threats, and systems need to be put in place to block malicious attempts to gain unauthorised access. Network managers will use firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, as well as logging traffic. Such monitoring tools will help ensure your network is kept as safe as possible and that attacks are identified and blocked quickly.

How to get the best out of your network infrastructure management solutions

It is likely that as your organisation grows, your corporate IT network will become increasingly complex. It therefore becomes ineffectual to use manual network infrastructure management methods. Appointing a managed service provider (MSP) to help streamline your monitoring and to troubleshoot problems within your network will prove both advantageous and cost-effective.

Network infrastructure management solutions and systems are designed to use standard networking protocols (rules determining how data is transmitted between different devices within your network) such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). Utilising such protocols helps maintain, monitor, and discover network elements, provision network-based services and can deploy new hardware and software components. Custom protocols can be designed which will work exclusively to simplify management and gather more granular details about certain network components.

Depending on the complexity of your network infrastructure management requirements, it may be possible to implement agentless monitoring solutions where monitoring uses existing, embedded capabilities within the servers and devices being monitored. Agent-based technology enables in-depth monitoring and management. Agent-based monitoring consists of a software component, typically a small application, which resides on your server and collects data. Not all devices in the network will support agent-based monitoring and some will have been built to offer both agent-based and agentless monitoring to leverage the advantages of both approaches. Your network infrastructure management is usually a mix of both.

How can Mintivo help?

Whether you have on-premises, hybrid, or cloud Infrastructure, managing key services and statistics is a difficult job whilst also running a business. Our highly skilled engineers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and our cutting-edge monitoring and remediation software has been fine-tuned to keep your Infrastructure performing as it should.

Find out more about the details of our network infrastructure management offering here or to discuss your specific requirements, please get in touch.

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