Are you tired of having to look over your shoulder if your network is working the best that it can be to support your business? Do you know what a Network Operations Center (NOC) is?
In the highly competitive IT industry, a network operations Center, or NOC data center, is a facility where IT technicians and engineers come to supervise and optimize your network performance directly with the use of remote monitoring and management (or RMM for short) software.
They are also responsible for resolving network changes and problems, it is also their duty to manage domain names and IP addresses, they maintain a watch over all monitored endpoints, ensuring a 24X7 uptime for a managed service provider’s (MSP) clients.
In essence, these groups of technicians and engineers team up to provide a continuous and stress-free network and IT experience for their MSP’s clients.
What makes a NOC technician?
Although there is no formal education requirement to become an NOC technician, professional licenses separates the pro’s from the neophytes. Below are two certifications that a NOC technician or a prospecting NOC technician should consider getting:
Microsoft SQL Server Certification. Professionals can take advantage of the variety of certifications being offered by Microsoft. This includes the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification and the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification. Both certifications require passing an exam to become certified.
Cisco Career Certification. There are five levels of the Cisco system, namely: entry-level, associate, professional, expert and architect. The training involved will help the prospect learn routing and switching, network design, network security, network storage and wireless systems. To become certified, the NOC technician must pass the examination given by Cisco system.
Roles & Responsibilities of a NOC Technician/Engineer
The teams of engineers and technicians that watch over the endpoints, servers, netflows and hops that are connected to the network of an MSP’s client keep a watchful eye over the security, capacity and health of the MSP’s client. If they find irregularities, they can decide on their end to make adjustments to ensure the network’s performance keeps up with the productivity targeted by the MSP’s client.
These adjustments are carried out by creating a prompt or an alarm called a “ticket”. The NOC uses these tickets primarily to identify the intervention or action to be done. The tickets are also categorized so that the interventions and actions to be done can be properly addressed depending on the severity, alert type, resources needed, time to finish the intervention or action among other criteria used by the NOC.
NOC’s can be in-housed, a third party provider or a mix of both. Depending on the relationship of the two and depending on the complexity of the problem or the complexity of the solution, the MSP and NOC teams will sometimes need to work together to resolve a problem.
NOC technicians are categorized based on “levels”, which can indicate the level of experience, expertise and problem-solving skills the NOC technician possesses. Entry level technicians start at Level I while more experienced NOC technicians are placed at Level II and Level III.
NOC technician oversee general network management and administration, but they can also be asked to do some telecommunication and engineering jobs, these jobs include constantly looking for anomalous activities in the network and correcting them to responding to emergency situations, so it is important that MSP’s can work effortlessly with their chosen NOC. NOC capabilities can also include:
- Installation, troubleshooting and updating for software applications
- Management of email services
- Management of storage and backup services and hardware
- Network discovery and assessments
- Enforcement of company IT policies
- Management and monitoring of Firewall and intrusion prevention system (IPS)
- Antivirus scanning and remediation
- Management of software patches
- Shared threat analysis
- Reporting of quality of service
- Reporting of process optimization efforts
- Management of video and voice traffic
While large corporations may have all the talent and resources to put up their own in-house NOC, they can still benefit from outsourcing this vital function of the organization to a third party. Needless to say, small and medium-sized business can also take full advantage of this strategy.
The Five Advantages of a Third Party NOC
Control IT costs
First and foremost, outsourcing your NOC can benefit your company financially. NOC’s normally charge a flat monthly fee allowing you to control your IT expenditures, avoiding costly repairs and downtimes. Having a monthly fee will also unburden you putting up an IT budget as monthly charges can be negotiated well ahead.
Reduced Labor Costs
Putting up your own NOC can leave a dent on your Personnel budget. Your HR guys won’t need to spend so much time looking for and building a team of their own. Hiring a third party NOC, they hit the ground running and can start work immediately.
Business Growth Focus
As the question I threw at the beginning of this article, you don’t need to look over your shoulder to peek if IT problems are burgeoning in your organization. You can focus on running your business while leaving the IT concerns to the IT professionals.
As you let go of the IT concerns to the NOC, the outsourced NOC now becomes accountable to that area of your operation. There are hidden risks associated with various competition, especially with compliance to government regulations. You also take advantage of the industry knowhow of the people behind your third-party NOC. They will have the experience, knowledge and background to make informed decisions for you or help you make one for yourself.
Finding a third-party provider for your NOC needs, means that you won’t have to deal so much with PCI Compliance Standards, you get industry-standard procedures that are already tested by time. These may involve compliance with keeping privacy data of your clients and other vital information.
The confusion, is n NOC a Help Desk?
An NOC is not a Help Desk. The distinction rely is where the end-client interaction take place. The help desk is a call center where your end-clients call for help, doing frontline interactions with your client. An NOC, on the other hand, provides problem resolution and support and provides back end maintenance to your MSP’s client, ensuring client uptime and timely response to issues of the MSP. To put it simply, the end-client calls the help desk, the MSP calls the NOC.