Effective infrastructure management for improved operations
IT infrastructure affects every aspect of your clients’ business, as it helps support physical and virtual components, people, and processes in their networks. Proper IT infrastructure management helps you better serve your clients with the services they need while giving you the resources to efficiently manage their data and other assets. Better infrastructure management helps data flow seamlessly to necessary stakeholders and can improve collaboration and communication.
Your team is responsible for overseeing clients’ IT infrastructure and building it to meet their unique needs and cybersecurity, reliability, and scalability demands. At the same time, you want to manage IT infrastructure efficiently so you can focus on higher-priority tasks and scale your MSP business over time.
Continue reading to learn about the importance of infrastructure management and how remote monitoring and management (RMM) software can boost your MSP’s operational efficiency through automation.
The role of infrastructure management
Infrastructure management plays a crucial role in ensuring your clients’ organizations function efficiently and effectively. Proper IT infrastructure management includes planning, designing, implementation, operation, and maintenance of different components like:
- Hardware like servers, devices, and workstations.
- Software like applications, operating systems, and databases.
- Networking or the connection between devices, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and internet.
- Data centers where IT infrastructure components such as servers are stored.
- Cybersecurity measures and tools that are in place to protect your client’s network.
- People and processes who help manage IT infrastructure.
Key roles and responsibilities involved in an infrastructure management system for MSPs include:
- Planning and design. Assessing the needs and requirements of a client’s organization, which includes conducting feasibility studies, analyzing costs and benefits, and setting up IT infrastructure that meets client objectives.
- Implementation. Infrastructure initiatives to implement can include the construction, installation, or deployment of various components. Your team and IT manager will communicate with stakeholders to manage timelines, budgets, and design specifications.
- Operation and maintenance. Infrastructure management includes activities such as monitoring performance, conducting routine inspections, troubleshooting issues, and ensuring the availability and reliability of infrastructure systems.
- Capacity and performance management. This might entail analyzing usage patterns, forecasting future demand, and making recommendations for upgrades to enhance efficiency and performance.
- Risk management. Assessing vulnerabilities, implementing cybersecurity measures, and developing plans to minimize downtime related to weather, cyberattacks, or equipment failures are all elements of a comprehensive risk management strategy.
- Lifecycle management. This involves developing strategies to manage asset renewal, replacement, or retirement based on age, functionality, and relevance.
- Regulatory compliance. You can assist clients in complying with various regulations and standards like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Service Organization Control 2 (SOC 2), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) by implementing specific cybersecurity controls and processes and performing security audits.
Your business is responsible for ensuring that your clients’ IT infrastructure aligns with their overall business needs. It’s important to understand both the components in their infrastructure and how to effectively manage IT infrastructure so you can implement the right tools and processes to help them succeed.
Remote monitoring and management tools can help with better infrastructure management through intelligent monitoring, automation, and data and insights. Comprehensive RMM tools enhance efficiency and productivity so you can focus on other tasks like growing your business and serving your clients.
Types of infrastructure management
When considering what infrastructure management is and how it affects your MSP business and your clients, you must think about the types of infrastructure to account for.
Who your clients are and your business goals will dictate how you build an infrastructure management system. When choosing your infrastructure monitoring tools, note that your management tools will fall into one of three main categories:
System management involves administering IT assets within a data center, including security operations like intrusion detection and prevention, configuration management, and log management. The CIO or CTO oversees system administration, data center operations, and the integration of new applications and third-party services into hybrid cloud environments.
Network management focuses on securing and optimizing network performance. IT security and operations analysts configure networks for applications and services, ensuring transparency and visibility. They monitor networks closely to detect cyber threats early and conduct security assessments to improve the network's quality, availability, and protection against unauthorized access and data breaches.
Data storage management utilizes technologies like virtualization, storage provisioning, and data compression to enhance IT infrastructure performance. Effective management ensures data security and enables quick retrieval in case of breaches or malfunctions. Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions help ensure that data is safe and secure during this process. Techniques like data replication and automation facilitate better storage capacity allocation and prevent data loss or theft.
Your job is to help your clients develop an IT infrastructure management plan that meets their needs, no matter what infrastructure type they have. Clients that do less remote work may not need to invest so heavily in cloud or edge infrastructure, while a large, international organization with a more complex IT environment may need to consider every type of IT infrastructure.
You get to help your clients make important decisions about their infrastructure management, which means you need access to the resources and tools to do that effectively while still maintaining your MSP business and even helping it grow. Investing in comprehensive RMM tools can help you address the various issues in IT infrastructure in an efficient way that frees you up to focus on more pressing tasks for you and your clients.
Benefits of infrastructure management
Infrastructure management benefits both you and your clients. Without it, you may not be as efficient in managing IT services for your clients, which means your clients may experience more downtime during emergencies and slower response time from your IT team.
A few benefits of infrastructure management for your clients include:
- Reliable and available IT resources. Providing your clients with a strong IT infrastructure ensures their IT resources are available when they need them. This helps maintain better business continuity and more uptime.
- Good communication. A well-managed IT infrastructure streamlines communication for your clients, allowing for quick collaboration. This supports their business by enabling more productivity and sharing of information. RMM tools help here in terms of providing a constant look at your client’s infrastructure, while professional service automation (PSA) tools provide automated responses to save your team team.
- Enhanced security. Comprehensive IT infrastructure can help improve security by implementing more advanced and automated security measures to protect your clients’ businesses. As they grow, the security features grow with them to ensure they are always protected.
- Regulatory compliance. If your clients operate in regulated industries like retail (subject to the Payment Card Industry, or PCI, regulations) or have a global enterprise (subject to regulations like General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR), they need to comply with specific regulations. To do that effectively and avoid penalties and downtime, they need IT infrastructure management and tools that offer security and processes to meet regulatory guidelines, especially as they grow.
- More flexibility. As more and more companies turn to remote work environments and cloud-based resources, it’s important that their IT infrastructure can handle the changes. Good infrastructure management will account for their growth and needs, so neither is compromised.
A few benefits of infrastructure management for your MSP business include:
- Efficiency. This matters for your clients, but it also matters for you. When you can quickly and efficiently manage your client’s IT infrastructure, you can do more and take on additional clients—like those with more complex IT environments—or offer existing clients more robust IT services.
- Scalability. Investing in the right infrastructure management tools can help you scale up or down depending on business needs. If a client’s IT infrastructure changes, you can change with it instead of having to turn to third-party services or invest in more tools.
- Better decision-making. With access to data, insights, and a centralized dashboard solution, you have better visibility into what’s the highest priority. You can customize your dashboard and sync other services so it’s easier to serve your clients well.
- Reduced costs. As a business owner or manager, budget is a big concern. Investing in comprehensive monitoring and maintenance tools can help you be more efficient and productive, which can save on labor and training costs, or money spent on outsourcing services to other entities. It also gives you the ability to offer your clients more services without investing in third-party maintenance or several tools.
Best practices for of infrastructure management
Every MSP will conduct infrastructure management a bit differently depending on their clients and the MSP’s business needs. However, the following best practices apply to most infrastructure management systems:
- Assess and document the IT environment. This includes carefully examining all the components and assets in your client’s IT environment. Be sure to document important items like dates, maintenance history, warranties, and stakeholders involved. This will help you make more informed decisions as you continue to work with your clients and support their infrastructure management.
- Conduct scheduled maintenance and inspections. Establishing a schedule for maintenance, inspections, and testing can help you identify areas of improvement or potential issues before they occur.
- Use data and analysis for decision-making. You need a clear view of what’s happening in your client’s IT infrastructure. You’ll need tools that offer in-depth insights to help you make data-driven decisions that are best for your clients.
- Prepare for disasters. Disasters will happen, but you can be ready for them with the right RMM and BCDR solutions in place to help you quickly back up, store, and recover data for your clients. You’ll also want to test your backup disaster and recovery plans regularly to validate their effectiveness.
- Train your team. If you’re implementing new tools and acquiring new clients, it’s crucial that your IT team understands the tools they’re using and why and who the stakeholders are so they can communicate effectively.
- Plan for the future. As a growing MSP, you always want to be on the cutting edge of new tools, resources, and strategies to help you stay ahead of the competition. Consider factors like the infrastructure’s lifespan, potential changes that may occur, new technology, and regulatory guidelines to help you prepare for client renewals and new business opportunities.
These best practices are an important part of infrastructure management that you can accomplish with the support of RMM. Check out the 10 Reasons You Need a Powerful RMM Tool to help support your clients and scale your MSP business.
How RMM helps with infrastructure management
When you are managing IT infrastructure for several clients with limited labor resources and time, you need to rely on the best tools to get the job done. Leveraging intelligent RMM software can take the pressure off your team and help you focus on growing your business. A robust RMM solution should offer several helpful features, including:
- Intelligent monitoring provides IT technicians with the information they need and creates a ticket for the most necessary tasks.
- Proactive patch management gives you more confidence when it’s time to push a new update.
- Centralized data and insights make it quick and easy to get a clear picture of your clients’ IT infrastructures to make well-informed decisions that support their business.
- Network operations center (NOC) services can allow you to take on more clients and tackle more issues with 24/7 support.
Ready to uplevel your infrastructure management with the power of remote monitoring and automation? Watch a demo of ConnectWise RMM today to see our modern software solutions in action.