IT Infrastructure

Explore how to evolve IT infrastructure for cloud.

What is IT infrastructure?

IT infrastructure, also called technology infrastructure, is what enables a company to build and run the applications that underpin its business. It includes compute, network, workplace, data platform and edge capabilities. Traditional infrastructure primarily concerns hardware, data centers and servers that are manually configured, managed and maintained.

With modern cloud infrastructure, applications and data are accessible from anywhere. Thus, it includes a mix of cloud environments, on-premise data centers and edge computing devices all connected by enterprise networks. This flexibility requires a dynamic infrastructure engineering discipline that integrates innovation, automation and optimization.

What is IT infrastructure?

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Why is it important?

As technological advancements accelerate, the platforms driving business value must keep pace. Otherwise, the business loses market share and competitive advantage. Cloud computing is one such technology. Once seen as a single static destination, cloud is now known to be a continuum of capabilities and technologies. Because of cloud, technology has never played a greater role than it does today—helping companies deliver profitable growth, create innovative experiences and operate in a responsible, sustainable way. Now—and especially because of the pandemic—connectivity is required anywhere and everywhere.

IT infrastructure is the foundation that allows companies to seamlessly operate in the cloud. It enables businesses to build exceptional experiences that leverage new cloud technologies for consumers and employees.

However, there’s tremendous pressure on IT departments to enable ever greater innovation, speed to market and financial flexibility. Existing IT infrastructure and bandwidth is often rigid, expensive and hardware-oriented.

Why is IT infrastructure important?

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What are the components of IT infrastructure?

There are several major components that modern IT infrastructure needs to run seamlessly, including:

  • On-prem data centers give companies greater control over security, governance, system performance requirements and more. Many companies also own and control their own data centers because of lack of application compatibility with cloud-based operations.
  • A hybrid/multi-cloud environment provides on-demand IT resources over the internet to users wherever and whenever. It also benefits from innovations and advancements from service providers like Microsoft Azure, AWS or Google.
    • Hybrid clouds mix private and public clouds.
    • A multi-cloud environment has more than one cloud of the same type from different service providers.
    • A hybrid/multi-cloud environment combines both hybrid cloud and multi-cloud.
  • Edge computing devices enable cloud computing at or nearest to the data source. For example, your data is computed on your device rather than in a data center thousands of miles away.
  • Digital workplace applications and technologies support new hybrid ways of working alongside high-performing, scalable database platforms for immediate data access and reach.
  • Finally, the enterprise network connects everything together. A modern infrastructure should employ a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and/or 5G.

What are the opportunities and barriers for innovation?

New digital technologies like infrastructure as code (IaC) are creating new opportunities for rapid and agile innovation. When infrastructure is optimized for the cloud, businesses have access to greater innovation and agility. Additional benefits happen in the modern workplace. In today’s “work anywhere, anytime” world, many employees associate their employer’s culture with a computer screen. That’s when IT adaptability, innovativeness and responsiveness become differentiators in workplace culture.

Understandably, many organizations feel daunted by the prospect of unwinding their businesses from legacy infrastructure and commercial commitments, even in the face of cloud opportunities. In the worst cases, IT performance can actually deteriorate in the cloud. Why? Because the infrastructure, processes and skills supporting it can’t keep pace with new digital business requirements.

To get the most out of the cloud, companies need to overhaul their traditional IT infrastructure. In the process, they will need to tackle five common barriers:

  • Traditional data centers.
    Some organizations made the decision to invest in the purchase, maintenance and management of their own data centers—an expensive, long-term commitment that may no longer align with sustainability objectives.
  • Owning hardware assets.
    Asset purchases made with three-to-five-year depreciation cycles and/or contractual leases lock up budget which could be invested to move to cloud.
  • Software licenses.
    Many organizations spend 35 to 55 percent of their IT budgets on software, some of which is redundant, especially where the organization is siloed or lacks governance.
  • Talent debt.
    Most IT organizations have invested in training and certifications for their people over the years. But with the explosion of digital technologies, many are struggling to continuously upskill and rotate their talent to stay relevant and competitive.
  • Mainframe legacy platforms.
    Once the only option for companies with largescale processing needs, mainframe platforms (e.g., Cobol, CICS, DB2) still operate some organizations’ most critical transactions. Cloud is needed to rapidly scale these applications, but significant modernization is required to make it possible.

How to start modernizing your IT infrastructure for cloud

Traditional approaches to infrastructure are limiting companies’ ability to adapt, innovate and compete. And the longer the delay, the bigger the problem. A new way forward is needed. That means shifting away from “keeping the lights on” approaches. What’s needed instead is an intelligent, software-defined infrastructure focused on continuous innovation, automation and optimization.

Achieving this transformation requires a new approach—and a solid foundation on which to build. That’s true whether your goal is unlocking business value and innovation today or preparing for tomorrow. The key to success? Understanding that every organization has a different starting point on this journey. Each organization needs to define what its own barriers are—and chart its own path to innovation and value.

Accenture uses a stabilize-optimize-transform approach to systematically break down these barriers.

  • Stabilize. Introduce automation to increase quality, reduce costs and build the foundation for a multi-speed operating model capable of supporting a hybrid landscape.
  • Optimize. Free-up funding and people, and clear a path to full-stack innovation. Begin continually re-engineering the infrastructure landscape to align with strategic business goals.
  • Transform. Continue re-engineering the infrastructure landscape while introducing new Cloud Continuum capabilities to accelerate value and unlock innovation.

The best part? The timing of each step is flexible. So, a business can realize the benefits of stability and optimization today—then start a transformation at the time of its choosing.

Case studies

Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) future-proofs its critical insurance and claims services.

Accenture helps Rakuten Mobile build the world’s first fully virtualized cloud-native telecommunications network.

MONETA Money Bank transitions to a new, secure cloud-based infrastructure, setting the stage for sustainable growth.

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Frequently asked questions

IT infrastructure, also called technology infrastructure, is what enables a company to build and run the applications that underpin its business. It includes compute, network, workplace and data platform capabilities.

Four components of IT infrastructure will ensure it is ever ready to thrive in the Cloud Continuum now and in the future: on-prem data centers, hybrid/multi-cloud environments, edge computing devices and enterprise networks that employ software-defined networks and/or 5G.

Software-defined, intelligent infrastructure makes rapid experimentation in the market possible because it is cheaper, easier to deploy and thus faster in the cloud. Traditional IT infrastructure often is not compatible with innovations from service providers like Microsoft Azure, Google and AWS.

These changes are enabled by new operating models, new skills and new ways of working optimized for cloud, software-defined networks, modern workplace, data architecture and infrastructure engineering.

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