5 Tips for infrastructure transparency

 Published by Shaun Behrens
Last updated on July 02, 2024 • 9 minute read

Infrastructure transparency is something that IT admins, professionals, and all who deal with infrastructure want: visibility of not only what’s in the infrastructure, but also dependencies between devices, systems and other components. At its core, infrastructure transparency means knowing everything about ALL of your IT assets. Transparency also helps you understand where your infrastructure is at risk – such as the existence of shadow IT, cyber security vulnerabilities, and more. It’s the key to transforming and optimizing your technical landscape. But how do you go about achieving this kind of transparency?

5 tips for infrastructure transparency

I spoke with Julian Kienberger of Qbilon, an IT architecture modeling tool, about 5 ways companies can move towards having better visibility of their infrastructure. Watch the full interview in the embedded video, or read on below for an overview of Julian’s advice.

Merge all data sources into one knowledge base

Merging data sources into one overview is the main goal when it comes to infrastructure transparency. In any IT environment, there are many different data sources distributed across the organization – application databases, IT management tools, Excel spreadsheets, and even employee knowledge. It’s important to bring all these distributed data sources into one knowledge base; from granular technical data up to strategic information, you need to be able to see all of it in one IT map.

To be effective, the IT map must be comprehensive, up-to-date, and consistent. Of course, this is easier said than done. Some data sources are more reliable than others. For example: data from an IT management tool will probably be fairly accurate, but data in an Excel spreadsheet that hasn’t been updated in months will be less so. A big part of the process is identifying the data sources in your environment, and then attributing a trustworthiness priority to each data source. This can help you decide which data source to rely on in the case of contradictory data. 

Automate data collection

IT environments are dynamic and change all the time. If you rely on manual tasks to collect data, you can quickly end up with an outdated overview. And if there are cloud-based components, things get even more complex. Because of this, it’s necessary to rely as heavily as possible on automation of data collection. Of course, automating data collection can mean many things: using tools to track issues over time, keep a list of IT assets, and more. We covered data automation in a previous podcast episode.

Effective automation will leave you with a number of data sources, and this leads us onto the next tip.

Connect data sources to IT assets and entities

Architecture_Mining_ScreenAs Julian says, infrastructure transparency is not just about writing everything to one database. It’s also about connecting the data sources to specific IT assets. He gives an example: Let’s say you use Paessler PRTG Network Monitor as your monitoring tool, but you also use an AI security solution covering the same entities in your environment. In this case, you can use the information from both solutions to make a model of the technical IT assets, including the communication with other assets. This will help you understand dependencies and highlight issues, which makes it possible to build up comprehensive information about an asset, even from just two data sources.

It’s about identifying which data sources tell you something about a specific IT asset, and then storing all that information together as one node representing that asset.

Create a map of your IT infrastructure

Once you have defined your IT assets, it’s beneficial to create a map of your infrastructure that shows how each asset (or node) is connected to other assets, as well as dependencies.

For the map to truly reflect your infrastructure, it must include all your assets – and preferably be based on as many reliable data sources as possible. And of course, it must be updated constantly. Only then can the map be useful for seeing the dependencies between nodes and highlighting areas that can be optimized.

An accurate and reliable infrastructure map is also a part of the next tip – visualization of your infrastructure.

Visualize your IT infrastructure

Julian finds it important to create visualizations that show you the complexity of your infrastructure as a pyramid. By this he means viewing different resources in a tree that gives an overview of what depends on which asset. For an example: if you want to update a specific server, you need to be able to see which other IT assets will be impacted by this update.

Another vital factor for visualizing IT infrastructure is the ability to filter your views. For example, if you're interested in which of your currently running servers have Windows 8 as an operating system, you could create that view and only see the things that are interesting for you based on your specific question. Essentially: being able to filter data reduces tens of thousands of dependencies to just a select few that are important to what you need to see.

Watch the interview

Julian covered a lot more in his discussion with us, including the importance of understanding real use cases that an IT map can address, and the problems that organizations face with creating infrastructure transparency. Watch the whole discussion on YouTube.

Also, discover more about how Qbilon gives you an overview of your infrastructure

And if you have questions about IT infrastructure, let us know in the comments below.