How User Interface Improves IT Infrastructure Management

IT infrastructure has expanded rapidly over the last decade and has positioned IT as an active business partner. This drastic expansion means IT teams need to look for effective and scalable mechanisms to manage the IT infrastructure at optimal costs and efforts. Here we discuss how User Interface (UI) can play a significant role in effectively executing IT infrastructure management.

Importance of User Interface in IT Infrastructure Management

The IT department has a broad view of business services and infrastructure. To manage and serve dynamic IT infrastructure needs with ease, businesses are adopting various automation solutions to scale up efficiencies by improving visibility into infrastructure services while avoiding service outages and maximizing operational agility.  Automation can save a lot of manual efforts and provide data to drive business decisions but, without proper UI and visualizations, IT teams cannot completely understand the data and service flows provided by automation.

Data visualization isn’t as simple as it appears, having the right information at the right time is the key. Without this, the entire process can slow down which decreases overall efficiency. This can greatly affect IT system administration and troubleshooting activities. For example, discovering and analyzing an issue is a time-sensitive task without proper data visualization and UI, it can compromise SLAs.

Binding complex functionalities under a well-defined UI enables IT, teams, to get results immediately. So, having a strong UI can simplify the process of IT administration and troubleshooting.

UI/UX Considerations for IT Management

The UI and User Experience (UX) design process is completely agile. For IT teams to achieve better results, striking the right balance between the UI design requirements and UX is important. There are a few things to consider to get this right.

UI/UX Considerations for Infrastructure Deployment

Expanding IT Infrastructure with new capabilities and resources is common. Initiating new deployments through UI requires following a structured process to guarantee all modules are installed properly. UI design patterns keep the process simple and provide transparency throughout the installation process. Generalization can simplify the process to prevent errors and speed up the entire process. Typically, in the deployment process, mostly wizards are used.

UI/UX Consideration for Infrastructure Monitoring and Management 

The type of UI that goes into IT infrastructure monitoring isn’t the same as in the deployment process. The goal is to optimize IT operations management. This process involves checking the utilization and performance status and extract deeper insights of performance. IT teams need better data visualization and dashboards that enhance understanding of efficiency in IT infrastructure with a report specific to each business case.

UI and UX  reporting should vary based on the hierarchy of access. For example, IT admins need an IT infrastructure map and access to data about each deployment. The UI deployed should provide visualizations with appropriate information in dashboards that are easy to understand. If you consider roles like users, the UI should be simple interfaces, so if there is an incident, users can troubleshoot without getting into technicalities.

What is the cloud-native infrastructure?

The cloud-native infrastructure is a cloud environment that enables the entire life cycle of applications designed and developed to operate in the cloud. A classic cloud-native app consists of a mesh of isolated services ensuring the overall app stability as the app does not cease to operate when one service is down. The granular infrastructure of such apps enables their on-the-go improvement without operational downtimes and systemic failures. 

Important aspects of the cloud-native infrastructure Containerization 

For the deployment of cloud apps, I recommend using containers to package up software code with all the dependencies necessary to run an app or a service. Containers consume fewer cloud resources and can be easily configured, scaled, replicated, and orchestrated via such management systems as Kubernetes. The use of containers facilitates CI/CD implementation and infrastructure automation.

Paas

To make the cloud more attractive to users, major cloud providers offer PaaS services for developing, testing, deploying, managing, and updating cloud applications: AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, Google App Engine, etc. PaaS releases you from cumbersome server management and lets you extend your cloud infrastructure with special modules for AI, machine learning, IoT, blockchain, etc., with no extra development efforts.

IT infrastructure automation 

With the Infrastructure as Code (IaC) approach, your DevOps team can automate cloud infrastructure setup and management of its components. They use configuration files to organize unified and instantly configured development environments and trace changes committed to the infrastructure. 

Parallel development environments 

As services of a cloud-native app are detached and have clear criteria for their functional operability, they enable a high level of automation and can be simultaneously developed and then assembled, tested, and deployed through the branching CI/CD pipelines.

Autoscaling 

Cloud infrastructures are driven by virtual computing nodes like EC2s in AWS and VMs in Azure or Google Cloud Platform. Each component of a cloud infrastructure consumes CPU, RAM or storage capacities attributable to it and the consumption should timely follow the demand: scale up or down. That’s why I recommend automating resource orchestration to: 

  • Reduce cloud consumption by scaling down when a service is idle. 
  • Ensure sufficient performance of a service by scaling up. 

Depending on the objectives, you can make the virtual instances scale dynamically against metrics of interest (including predictive metrics) or as scheduled if you expect load surges. 

Load balancing 

In addition to cloud resource auto-scaling, cloud platforms provide for load balancing to distribute traffic and computing loads over virtual instances. And if a cloud vendor offers access to a global Content Delivery Network, cloud load balancers may be used to route traffic to and from the nearest edge servers making your cloud app highly responsive. 

Application monitoring

Monitoring of a cloud-native app can be divided into two layers: 

  • Health checks to define whether a microservice is functional at all. The functional state is automatically reported to a host platform, which can scale up or down the dedicated virtual instances. 
  • Metrics analysis gives an advanced picture of app performance. It is mostly used by the developers to automate the up/downscaling of an app or plan the changes to the app if the service level indicators aren’t met. 

Security

A cloud-native app lets you build perimeter and component-level security. However, the integration of access verification mechanisms into each app component may become a burden on performance. To avoid this, I suggest using intra-component authentication: a signed-up user gets a token, which is then compared with a reference token cashed in each service to grant or deny access. This technique greatly contributes to app security with the least effect on its performance. 

Tips for a robust cloud-native infrastructure

Tip 1: Get an experienced DevOps team skilled in: 

  • Automation. Isac infrastructure setups, CI/CD pipelines, infrastructure management automation. 
  • Containerization to make your infrastructure a resource-friendly system easily reproducible on any cloud platform. 
  • App monitoring to make sure your app adheres to the set business goals throughout its entire life cycle. 

Tip 2: Avoid cloud-agnostic architectures as they are resource-hungry and rigid for functional extensions. Instead, I advise you to build your cloud-native infrastructure straight on a platform that natively supports containerization and provides PaaS functionality reducing your development efforts and infrastructure costs (e.g., Azure, AWS, GCP). Thus, you’ll be able to build and optimize the infrastructure faster and cheaper. 

IT Infrastructure Consultants

In the technology industry, much of the focus is placed on applications and solutions, and rightfully so. It is the applications themselves that enable a company to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and provide their services for their customers. However, without the right infrastructure in place, the application is either going to perform poorly or not function at all. As IT infrastructure consultants, here’s where Mindsight comes in. We provide expert insight and guidance at an infrastructure level to help our clients deploy, manage, and maintain their IT environments. 

The Value Of IT Infrastructure Consultants 

Purchasing your IT infrastructure is not as simple as ordering SKUs online and waiting for the parts to arrive. Truly, infrastructure consulting occurs in two phases.

Design and Strategy 

In the design and strategy phase, clients meet with our consultants to discuss their IT environment, their limitations, and their goals. From there, our consultants can recommend specific platforms and manufacturers to help the client achieve their goals in the best way possible. 

Our approach to these consulting engagements is a holistic one. We don’t only meet with the IT department. Instead, we seek to understand our client’s business at every level. We meet with other business units, such as the finance department, sales, marketing, and more to discover how the technology empowers and hinders that department. Once we understand how the business operates, we are in a much better position to offer the best recommendations and guidance possible. 

Deployment 

The deployment phase is exactly what you might imagine. After the proper equipment and strategy are finalized, our engineers draw upon their wealth of experience to deploy the requested infrastructure and avoid downtime, complications, and compatibility issues. By choosing Mindsight as their preferred IT infrastructure consultant, our clients gain peace of mind in knowing that their new equipment will be deployed in their environment on time and on budget.