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Top 6 Considerations When Choosing an Infrastructure Solution for Your Business

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Choosing a new IT infrastructure solution for your business is a major undertaking. You will need to consider everything from IT requirements, to staff training, to rollout planning.

At R2i, we have supported Canadian organizations large and small with their IT infrastructure implementations for over ten years. Each situation is unique, but there are some considerations that every business has to take into account. These are the top six considerations that we recommend to any business planning a new IT infrastructure solution.

#1 Is this infrastructure solution easy to use?

Useability is the most important consideration when developing your IT infrastructure solution. Your IT infrastructure will be part of your business operations every day. Choose something that’s easy to use, maintain, and update.

Many companies choose to hire a partner to manage their IT infrastructure instead of managing it themselves, which certainly makes IT easier. Managed IT services can be a great way to benefit from predictable, top quality IT infrastructure without dealing with the challenges of hiring IT infrastructure professionals, maintaining hardware, and managing infrastructure details. 

If you choose to work with a partner to make your infrastructure easier to use, consider the partner’s expertise and internal skills. You should also make sure that your partner has a deep understanding of client needs and is easy for you to work with going forward.

 

#2 How will you keep your IT infrastructure secure?

Security is an increasing concern, and should be a primary consideration when choosing an infrastructure solution. When considering a platform, look at the number of attacks it has experienced. It is worth it to invest in a highly secure solution.

You should also consider security if you choose to use open source technology as part of your IT infrastructure management. Open source tools can be a useful way to try out different options and benefit from new features, but open source tools do not supply support — which means that if there’s a security breach related to your open source technology, you are responsible for it.

 

#3 Will the infrastructure solution be flexible enough for future plans?

What are your organization’s plans in the near future? Will you be changing your ERP next year? Are you planning a large hiring campaign? Or launching a big new product?

Consider these future plans when choosing your IT infrastructure solution. Make sure you choose one with enough flexibility to adjust to future developments that you know will or may happen. Even if you are not planning a major change to your organization, it is wise to choose a flexible IT infrastructure in case of unforeseen events.

 

#4 How much downtime can you tolerate?

Determine your business’s tolerance of IT downtime. If your business cannot be down at all, then you will need an IT solution with the highest availability — and you will need to plan carefully how to implement your new IT solution without disrupting operations. If your business can be down for two hours, you will have other options available to you. If your business can be down for two days, for example over a weekend, then you will have still more options to consider.

 

#5 What is your budget?

As with any business decision, cost is a consideration when choosing an IT infrastructure solution. But don’t just look at the surface level price.

When choosing an infrastructure solution, consider how much you can tolerate a variable cost. If you manage your own infrastructure on prem, then you will be responsible for unpredictable expenses to maintain your hardware. If you choose a managed IT services provider, then you will likely have a predictable monthly invoice that makes budget planning easier. (Though if you choose an American-based partner that sends invoices in US dollars, remember that your invoice will vary month-to-month based on the exchange rate.)

When choosing a cloud solution, consider if you may become locked in. Many cloud solutions are easy and affordable to begin using, but have high egress fees that make it difficult and expensive for you to change to a different IT infrastructure in the future. Consider both future and immediate expenses when choosing a cloud provider.

#6 When do you need it?

Consider when you need your new IT infrastructure up and running, and therefore when you need to begin planning, testing, and implementing your solution.

The first phase of implementing a new IT infrastructure solution will always be to analyze your existing solution and IT needs. This can add complications to your timeline, because you should conduct this analysis during your peak time. So if your business’s peak time is during November and December, then that’s when you need to collect data. That may have a big effect on when you can implement your new infrastructure.

Implementing a new IT infrastructure solution is a major change, and we at R2i wish you all the best as you begin this project. If you have any questions, reach out to our IT experts any time. R2i provides companies like yours with flexible, complete IT infrastructure solutions every day, and we’re happy to support you in your digital transformation as well.

 

How do I choose an infrastructure ?

Choosing the right infrastructure for a project or business involves a careful assessment of your needs, goals, budget, and technical requirements. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Understand Your Requirements: Clearly define your project’s requirements, including scalability, performance, security, availability, and any specific technologies or tools you need. Consider factors like the expected user load, data storage needs, and geographic distribution.
  2. Budget Considerations: Determine your budget for infrastructure. This will impact your choices, as different options come with varying costs. Remember to account for not only initial setup costs but also ongoing maintenance and operational expenses.
  3. Evaluate Deployment Options: Decide between on-premises, cloud, or hybrid deployments:
    • On-Premises: You manage all aspects of your infrastructure, including hardware, networking, and security. Suitable for organizations with specific compliance requirements or substantial existing infrastructure.
    • Cloud Services: Use services provided by cloud providers like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. Offers scalability, managed services, and pay-as-you-go pricing. Well-suited for startups and businesses that require rapid scaling.
    • Hybrid: Combine on-premises and cloud resources for flexibility, data privacy, and disaster recovery.
  4. Cloud Provider Selection: If you opt for cloud services, evaluate different cloud providers based on factors such as services offered, geographic reach, pricing models, and customer support. Consider market leaders like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as niche providers catering to specific needs.
  5. Scalability and Performance: Assess the infrastructure’s ability to scale as your project grows. Look for elasticity in terms of resources like computing power, storage, and network bandwidth. Consider how the infrastructure handles traffic spikes.
  6. Security and Compliance: Security is paramount. Ensure the infrastructure meets your security requirements and industry standards. Check for features like encryption, access controls, regular security updates, and compliance certifications.
  7. Reliability and Availability: High availability is crucial. Evaluate the infrastructure’s uptime guarantees, redundancy mechanisms, and disaster recovery options. Look for features like load balancing and auto-scaling.
  8. Technical Stack Compatibility: Ensure the infrastructure supports the technologies and tools you plan to use. Compatibility with your development stack (programming languages, frameworks, databases) is essential.
  9. Vendor Lock-In: Consider the potential for vendor lock-in when choosing a specific solution. Evaluate how easy it would be to migrate to another infrastructure in the future, if necessary.
  10. Support and Documentation: Check the availability and quality of technical support from the infrastructure provider. Comprehensive documentation and a supportive community can make troubleshooting and development smoother.
  11. User Experience: Gather feedback from your development and operations teams about their experiences with the infrastructure. Their input can shed light on real-world challenges and benefits.
  12. Testing and Proof of Concept: Before committing fully, conduct small-scale tests or proofs of concept. This helps you validate that the chosen infrastructure meets your requirements and works as expected.
  13. Flexibility and Future Growth: Consider how well the chosen infrastructure can adapt to future changes in your project’s needs and technology trends.
  14. Leverage Expertise: If you lack expertise in a particular infrastructure, consider hiring or consulting with experts who have experience with that technology. Their insights can be invaluable during the decision-making process.
  15. Decision and Implementation: After thorough evaluation, make an informed decision based on all the factors mentioned above. Once you’ve decided, plan and execute the implementation carefully, considering migration strategies, data transfer, and testing.

Remember that the choice of infrastructure is not static; it may evolve as your project grows and technology advances. Regularly reassess your infrastructure to ensure it continues to meet your changing needs.

 

What are important considerations when developing an IT infrastructure plan?

Developing an IT infrastructure plan is a strategic process that involves careful consideration of various factors to ensure that the technology and resources you put in place align with your organization’s goals and needs. Here are important considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Business Objectives: Align your IT infrastructure plan with your organization’s overall business objectives. Understand how technology can support and enhance your company’s goals, whether that’s improving customer experience, increasing efficiency, or expanding into new markets.
  2. Scalability: Plan for scalability to accommodate growth. Ensure your infrastructure can handle increased workloads and user demands without significant disruptions. This might involve using cloud resources, virtualization, or other scalable technologies.
  3. Performance and Speed: Consider the performance requirements of your applications and services. Design your infrastructure to deliver fast and responsive experiences to users, whether they’re accessing your systems internally or externally.
  4. Security and Compliance: Security is paramount. Develop a robust security strategy that includes data protection, access controls, encryption, intrusion detection, and regular security updates. Ensure your infrastructure complies with relevant industry regulations and standards.
  5. Data Management: Define how you’ll manage and store data. Consider factors such as data retention policies, backup and disaster recovery plans, data access controls, and data archiving.
  6. Network Architecture: Design your network architecture to provide reliable connectivity and efficient data transfer between components. Consider factors like network segmentation, load balancing, and redundancy to ensure high availability.
  7. Hardware and Software Selection: Choose hardware and software components that are suitable for your requirements. This includes servers, storage solutions, networking equipment, operating systems, databases, and application frameworks.
  8. Cloud vs. On-Premises: Decide whether to use cloud-based services, on-premises infrastructure, or a combination of both (hybrid). Consider factors such as cost, scalability, security, and management when making this decision.
  9. Budget and Cost Management: Develop a budget that accounts for both initial setup costs and ongoing operational expenses. Consider factors like licensing fees, hardware procurement, maintenance, and training.
  10. Vendor Relationships: If you’re working with third-party vendors or service providers, establish clear relationships and expectations. Ensure they align with your business goals and can provide the necessary support.
  11. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Develop a disaster recovery plan to minimize downtime and data loss in the event of a disaster. Consider backup strategies, data replication, failover mechanisms, and testing procedures.
  12. User Experience: Put user experience at the forefront. Ensure that your infrastructure plan considers the needs of end-users, whether they’re employees, customers, or partners. Focus on providing a seamless and user-friendly experience.
  13. Change Management: Implement a change management process to handle updates, upgrades, and migrations smoothly. Clearly define how changes will be tested, approved, and implemented to minimize disruptions.
  14. Monitoring and Management Tools: Choose tools for monitoring, managing, and troubleshooting your infrastructure. These tools should provide insights into system performance, security incidents, and potential issues.
  15. Training and Skill Development: Invest in training your IT team or personnel to manage and maintain the new infrastructure effectively. Keep their skills up-to-date to adapt to technological advancements.
  16. Future Proofing: Consider the future trends and advancements in technology that could impact your infrastructure. Aim to build flexibility into your plan to accommodate new technologies as they emerge.
  17. Communication and Collaboration: Ensure that different teams within your organization, such as IT, development, and business units, are aligned and communicate effectively throughout the planning and implementation phases.
  18. Documentation: Maintain detailed documentation of your infrastructure plan, including architecture diagrams, configurations, processes, and guidelines. This documentation will be crucial for ongoing management and troubleshooting.
  19. Regular Review and Updates: IT infrastructure is not static. Regularly review your plan to ensure it continues to meet your organization’s needs. Update the plan as technology evolves or your business requirements change.
  20. Project Management: Treat your infrastructure development as a project. Define clear milestones, timelines, responsibilities, and deliverables. Regularly review progress and adjust as needed.

By considering these factors and creating a comprehensive IT infrastructure plan, you’ll be better equipped to build a technology environment that supports your organization’s success.

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