Monday, September 1, 2014

Infrastructure Architecture, Defined

Infrastructure Architecture has gotten a bit more interesting in recent years as we have seen it expand into two distinct overarching categories; Physical Infrastructure and Virtual Infrastructure. Ultimately, all Infrastructure defaults to some hardware foundation, yet the revolution known as Cloud Computing illustrates how complex this field of architecture has become. Infrastructure Architecture is also referred to sometimes as Technical Architecture (in TOGAF for example).

Infrastructure Architecture today typically includes the following sub-categories:
  • Data Center Architecture - This is a comprehensive view of infrastructure in the context of specific data center installations / implementations. Data Center Consolidations typically involve standardizing architectures across heterogeneous data centers as they are reduced in number to streamline operations (this is often done in conjunction with ITIL process standardization). 
  • Network Architecture - This type of architecture can be internet focused (IPv4, IPv6), or include internet and telecommunications (ATM, SS7 etc.) or both. It can have a private or public (backbones or customer-facing networks) focus.
  • Cloud Architecture - This includes the following core patterns: IAAS, PAAS & SAAS (infrastructure, Platform and Software as a Service). These can be configured as Public or Private Clouds. And there is now a ubiquitous category known as Hybrid Clouds which combine aspects of the previous patterns listed . This third category was developed as an approach for optimizing the resources of the previous two categories through Virtualization technology (the idea being that in many cases hardware was being under-utilized when dedicated to only a single system or purpose).
Infrastructure Architecture Definition
Infrastructure Architecture represents the sum of hardware and telecommunications related IT capability associated with a particular enterprise as well its the associated management software. The internal architecture of individual hardware devices represents a separate design field (embedded hardware). Infrastructure Architecture is concerned with the synergistic operation and management of multiple devices which when taken together offer a variety of enterprise services which the rest of the Architecture stack can exploit. Infrastructure had previously been considered a "back-end" technology capability until recently when companies like Google, Dropbox and dozens of others were able to create public facing "Cloud" offerings which successfully exploited infrastructure services direct to consumers.

This represents a prototypical view of what later become DISA Cloud Infrastructure framework
Infrastructure Architecture has also been considered (in the past) as the key focal point for IT security mainly based on the notion of perimeter security for data centers. However Security Architecture is much more expansive than Infrastructure.

We will define Cloud Computing topics in greater depth in future posts and illustrate how Architectural principles and tools are being used to help manage it.

Copyright 2014,  Stephen Lahanas



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