In American football, the athletes who are in the offensive line positions rarely get the glory. There are rarely positive highlight reels on the game recaps. Often, they only get attention when something goes wrong. However, as many coaches will tell you, as goes the offensive line, so goes the offense.  

Infrastructure is IT’s offensive line. As goes the infrastructure, so goes the organization. Infrastructure is highly technical. The people and the technology need speed and flexibility. It requires a good plan in place and the ability to react to changing needs and threats. 

Unfortunately, like the offensive line, there are rarely any positive highlight reels. You don’t see the articles on how an organization has a great infrastructure. Others in the organization rarely appreciate a solid infrastructure unless they realize that they never have any problems.

Now your job includes overseeing the infrastructure.

Portions of this article are excerpted from my book, The I.T. Leader’s First Days, available from bookstores everywhere.

When you start your new job as an IT Leader, learning the infrastructure needs to be part of your first days. You don’t need to have a deep understanding of the details, but you need to know at least an overview of the following.

  1. Physical Architecture, including networks
  2. Security Architecture
  3. Application Architecture
  4. Disaster Recovery/Business Resumption, including backups
  5. Vendors

Talk to your team, make lists, understand the interfaces and dependencies. Ask about and document the major risks.

Understanding your infrastructure is foundational to your understanding of the technical portfolio your team will be supporting. Spend time to learn it.

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