3. Infrastructure

In addition to the infostructure, large-scale information systems like EHRs need a technical infrastructure to allow for secure collection, storage, curation, sharing and analysis of information. IBM defined infrastructure as the “combined components needed for the operation and management of enterprise IT services and environments” [8]. For example, IT infrastructure consists of the following components:

  • Hardware such as computers, servers, switches, and data centres.
  • Software such as Content Management System (CMS), operating system, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), etc.
  • Facilities that provide space for hardware.
  • Networks that enable the transfer of data between computers.
  • Servers

Two main types of IT infrastructure are traditional and cloud infrastructure. The traditional IT infrastructure is usually built on a company's premises with dedicated physical spaces for infrastructure hardware. Cloud infrastructure has the functionality of traditional infrastructure with the advantage that users can access the infrastructure via the internet [8].

While end-users do not need to know the details of all components, understanding the different components provides opportunities for stakeholders to engage with a system without focusing on its entirety. It is also helpful to understand which components are essential to keep and which are replaceable. This knowledge is beneficial to avoid what is called vendor lock-in (or more generally the adoption of a proprietory system). Vendor lock-in occurs when IT vendors keep the structure of the information used within their system private. It means other systems may be unable to access this information conveniently without the involvement of the vendor.