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The New Intelligent Network Operation Center (NOC)

2/26/20 4:01 PM / by Jose Alvarez

Jose Alvarez

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A Network Operations Center (NOC) is a location where IT professionals can support, monitor and maintain networks and data centers. The NOC is the center of software distribution, network troubleshooting, router and domain name management, coordination with connected systems, and performance monitoring. Every business can choose whether they'll have an in-house NOC, outsourced NOC or choose a combination of both. According to their choice, the outcome of the NOC monitoring, services and functions will be different.

Due to the advance in technology, the functions and processes of the NOC are changing as well. It wasn't that long ago when NOCs needed a few smart people and a handful of not-so-terribly-smart machines. That's already in the past though, because today's network operation centers (NOCs) are an entirely different breed. So, instead of monitoring a few dozen different pieces of information, modern NOCs are simultaneously processing thousands of bits of data and events, analyzing and making predictions and proactive decisions and actions about monitored systems. The new NOC is a busy and important  place in any modern IT organization.


What Does Efficient NOC Mean?

A good NOC should be one that you never realize is there. After all, their primary goal is to keep your systems up and running, so if that's happening correctly, you have no reason to notice your operations management center at all.

In a perfect world, the operations management center is a place where information, well-trained staff and properly configured smart tools meet to monitor all the servers and infrastructure of your IT systems. It means that from your cloud center to your application or Web servers, the NOC is always watching for problems and waiting, ready to fix them before and when they occur. Read on to find out why a proactive NOC would be a more efficient solution to your issues.


Reactive vs Proactive NOCs

When you hire an operations management center, it's essential to understand precisely what you're getting in the deal.

Is the team you're hiring reactive or proactive? This question is vital to the health of your business. A reactive NOC can keep your business running acceptably well, but there will be downtimes. If a significant problem strikes, you could experience extended outages, which can cost you time and money. The problem is in how a reactive NOC handles its data.

A reactive system lacks tools that can foresee problems. Instead of having the system flag alerts of consequence, teams of trained people are often charged with manually combing over hundreds of thousands of pieces of information to search for problems. It leads to information overload and missed warnings—often to the point that obvious issues are ignored or dismissed until they result in completely degraded and non-functioning systems.

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That's why proactive, intelligent operations management centers are the future of NOCs. The differences are startling—and significant when it comes to your business. The concept is entirely different from the ground-up. A proactive NOC can predict problems long before they happen so that the team can continuously be performing maintenance to keep the system running smoothly, instead of just waiting around to fix it when it periodically breaks down. These operations management centers don't only employ humans for NOC monitoring. Still, in addition, smart helper applications using correlation and in some cases Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are also on board to distinguish between false alarms and real warning and intelligent alarms.

Structured processes are in charge of comparing alerts system-wide and creating correlations between them that help highly-trained human operators determine precisely where a problem seems to be occurring. Using automatic triage tools that help humans quickly find the source of a problem, the operation team focuses its efforts on preventing downtime and glitches.


NOC vs Help Desk

Network Operations Center and Help Desk are in many cases mixed, or considered as one. However, even though a NOC integrates various processes, it excludes a more ‘customer-facing’ help desk.

The difference between the NOC and the help desk is that the NOC interacts with the Third-party providers and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and back end infrastructure assets, while a help desk interacts with end-clients. Therefore, if the MSPs have some issues they’ll contact NOC to get an answer. This way they can actively and quickly respond to issues and ensure uptime. On the other hand, if end-clients have some questions, they’ll contact the help desk. This will happen if they’re experiencing some problem themselves.

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In-House vs Outsourced NOC?

Most of the time companies have a hard time managing an in-house NOC as well as maintaining the continual growth of their business. In-house NOC doesn’t only drain the company’s time, it drains their money as well, leaving no time for further growth. This is why more and more companies are partnering with third party IT professionals. The benefits of an outsourced NOC are numerous, leaving the technicalities to be sorted out by experts. This way the technical staff in the company can focus on priority projects, of higher value.

NOC Monitoring

When co-sourcing with managed services IT provider, you'll more efficiently achieve your goal, which is - your end-user not to be aware of the NOC's presence. Choosing a Managed Services Provider for your NOC will bring more production and efficiency to your operations. You'll also experience reduced downtime, and any upcoming issues will be fixed no matter if it's five in the morning. Therefore, your customers will have no problems because they'll have them quickly fixed. Some of the benefits of NOC monitoring are:

  • Security and network stability
  • 24/7 support all year round
  • Reduced downtime and fewer surprises
  • Detection of issues before they become significant problems
  • Help at any time from experienced technicians and engineers
  • Optimized network performance


The Importance of Reduced Downtime

Did you know that only one hour of downtime can cost you up to $12,000? That’s quite shocking right? That’s why avoiding unplanned downtime is the goal of the proactive operations management center.

For most modern businesses, downtime is unbelievably costly, not to mention frustrating. Not only is there the cost of lost business during the downtime to consider, but there are also lost production hours for each employee, missed deadlines, damaged reputations and sometimes even regulatory issues to consider. Unplanned downtime is more than just a few guys twirling around in their chairs waiting for the network to come back up—it's a significant expense.

Instead of worrying about unplanned downtime, consider upgrading to a proactive, outsourced NOC. These companies will be able to show you the tools they use for NOC monitoring, as well as the parameter they've defined as most vital for systems like yours.

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Final Thoughts

Today's intelligent NOC is an operations management center that's always anticipating problems before they happen and continually improving its processes. The goal is the NOC to become entirely invisible and yet highly valuable to the team. The value that a proactive, outsourced NOC can bring you equals an increase in profit, reduced downtime, better security and NOC monitoring. So, why don’t you go ahead and grasp what the future offers you?

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Jose Alvarez

Written by

Jose Alvarez

Jose leads our IT Outsourcing and Solutions practice and has extensive experience always delivering best practices. His expertise includes IT strategic planning, cost control programs, emerging technologies, IT operations and infrastructure management.