A Network Operations Center, commonly referred to as a “NOC,” serves as the central hub from which an organization extends its assistance to its network and telecommunications framework—servers, applications, cloud infrastructure, routers, switches, circuits, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), environmental sensors, security cameras, and other connected devices. It is a pivotal element of any IT support operation, delivering real-time surveillance and swift reaction to incidents emerging within the network.

The NOC undertakes real-time monitoring, identification, and resolution of infrastructure incidents, working with monitoring and management systems, technical experts, and external equipment/carrier providers. It’s essential to note that a NOC diverges from a Help Desk, mainly configured to manage end-user concerns and deliver support for PC/laptop problems, applications, and fundamental network connectivity matters.

How Does Network Operation Center Work?

How Does Network Operation Center Work?

A Network Operations Center (NOC) is meticulously planned to possess its exclusive designated chamber, featuring numerous lines of desks and workstations all oriented toward a video wall. Typically, this video wall displays the real-time condition of network devices and their corresponding metrics and presents details about ongoing alarms, active incidents, and overall network performance. The data showcased on the video wall is also accessible on individual workstations dispersed throughout the room. At these stations, personnel oversee specific devices and their associated alarms. Notifications and alerts provide engineers with information regarding the location of an issue and the impacted device. 

Armed with this knowledge, they can delve into correlated matters and adhere to established protocols to resolve the incident. Each workstation incorporates multiple screens, which expedites and streamlines the process for engineers to scrutinize information and react with heightened efficiency. Some enterprises opt to manage an internal NOC, positioning the infrastructure and operations center on-site, often within the confines of the data center. However, other entities outsource this function to a third-party network and infrastructure monitoring and management expert.

NOCs typically function in a tiered or hierarchical structure, aligned with their proficiency and experience in addressing distinct concerns. Incidents are classified from levels 1 to 3, with level 1 representing less critical situations, such as evaluating alerts stemming from infrastructure devices. Conversely, level 3 encompasses the gravest incidents, including scenarios like ransomware attacks or network outages. When a NOC technician identifies a complication, he or she generates a ticket that categorizes the problem based on the type and severity of the alert, alongside other relevant criteria.

Subsequently, NOC engineers embark on troubleshooting the issues and seek strategies to avert future network downtime and connectivity disruptions. Should the NOC engineer handling a specific problem level encounter difficulties in promptly resolving the matter, it escalates to the subsequent level and continues ascending until the ongoing issue attains full resolution. The amalgamation of robust equipment and profoundly skilled personnel, operating within meticulously delineated protocols, empowers the NOC to operate incessantly.

Why Companies Use NOC Services?

Why Companies Use NOC Services

A corporation’s network is the core of all its communication, data retention, and other day-to-day operations. Given this, ensuring minimal downtime for the company’s network is crucial. Some companies maintain an internal IT department, which can introduce additional costs, particularly for those with extensive networks. Most in-house technicians are trained to troubleshoot problems after they occur. They lack the training to detect malevolent network attacks. However, an alternative solution exists.

A Network Operations Center (NOC) can offer more services than typical in-house technicians. Furthermore, they can deliver continuous technical monitoring and support for a network system 24/7, 365 days a year. They provide various services to ensure the company’s network functions optimally. Here are a few factors underscoring the importance of having a NOC.

What are the critical roles within the NOC?

Inside the NOC, there exists a squad of specialists — NOC engineers, analysts, or operators — and probably multiple team leaders or supervisors for different shifts. NOC personnel necessitate distinct proficiencies in the domains of monitoring, upkeeping, and swift resolution of performance anomalies across the network. This level of expertise generally surpasses the realm of the non-specialized IT professional. NOC technicians usually possess extensive on-the-job familiarity, particularly in network surveillance and tools. A significant number also hold advanced credentials in this domain. Since assembling an extensive crew devoted to network performance proves unattainable for numerous smaller entities, alternative options such as third-party service providers proffer NOC services instead of an internally managed NOC.

Inside the NOC, there exists a squad of specialists — NOC engineers, analysts, or operators — and probably multiple team leaders or supervisors for different shifts. NOC personnel necessitate distinct proficiencies in the domains of monitoring, upkeeping, and swift resolution of performance anomalies across the network. This level of expertise generally surpasses the realm of the non-specialized IT professional. NOC technicians usually possess extensive on-the-job familiarity, particularly in network surveillance and tools. A significant number also hold advanced credentials in this domain.

Since assembling an extensive crew devoted to network performance proves unattainable for numerous smaller entities, alternative options such as third-party service providers proffer NOC services instead of an internally managed NOC.

What is the Purpose of NOC?

The purpose of a NOC boils down to upholding prime network performance and accessibility, guaranteeing uninterrupted uptime. The NOC administers an array of pivotal tasks, encompassing:

  • Surveillance of the network to identify issues necessitating specific attention, including those originating externally.
  • Management of servers, networks, and devices, entailing software installation, updates, debugging, and distribution across all devices.
  • Prompt response to incidents includes handling power outages and communication line glitches.
  • Safeguarding measures involving vigilance, analysis of threats, and deployment of tools, in collaboration with security operations.
  • Execution of backup and storage procedures alongside strategies for disaster recovery.
  • Supervision of email, voice, and video data management.
  • Facilitation of patch management.
  • Overseeing firewall and intrusion prevention system operations and offering antivirus assistance.
  • Enforcement of policies.
  • Advancement of services by collecting feedback and user suggestions.
  • Ensuring adherence to service level agreements.
  • Administration of vendors, freelancers, and contractors.

Network Operation Centers and AI

Network Operation Centers and AI
The surge of 5G, edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is exerting amplified pressures on the network services of telecommunication companies. A network comprising millions of endpoints can introduce challenges in overseeing the system and managing incidents. By 2024, Ericsson predicts there will be 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions for augmented mobile broadband and 4.1 billion worldwide cellular IoT connections. The sheer scale of usage and devices linked to the network tests the human capacity to address all incidents. Addressing millions of incoming alerts can result in issues that hinder response time and burden engineers. To address the intricacies of these novel offerings, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are enabling network operations to promptly analyze incoming data and rectify issues across numerous endpoints as they arise. Furthermore, AI’s advanced analytical and machine learning capabilities can shift a NOC’s approach from reactive to proactive operations. This application of AI is referred to as network observability. It transfers numerous low-level decision-making activities—such as problem-solving or capacity planning—from engineers to the network observability tool, where they are resolved. The outcome is diminished routine tasks for engineers, leading to reduced escalation of typical issues to higher levels and an increased ability to concentrate on more substantial concerns and network enhancement. A case in point is how communication service providers (CSPs) employ AI technology. AI supplies deeper insights into the overall functionality of a network system rather than analyzing each device individually. These tools are remodeling CSPs into more automated network operations, where complications are rectified before they impact customers.

Advantages of NOCs

Whether internally or outsourced through a third-party provider, NOCs provide companies with various benefits.

  • Enhanced efficiency within IT departments: By entrusting NOC responsibilities to an external entity, the internal IT team gains the capacity to concentrate on crucial projects and novel undertakings.
  • Flexibility: A NOC is adaptable to a company’s growth, aligning with expansions into fresh locations and markets. Additionally, it provides the flexibility required to accommodate fluctuations in traffic on a daily or seasonal basis.
  • Eradicates periods of inactivity: The constant availability of a NOC ensures a perpetual presence to oversee the proper functionality of all software, hardware, and networks.
  • Swift incident reaction: NOCs are engineered to continually supervise network systems, promptly identifying issues and even preemptively addressing them before they become major concerns. This unwavering setup leads to swift incident resolution.
  • Enhanced network optimization: NOCs furnish up-to-the-minute reports regarding network health, pinpointing areas for enhancement and implementing these improvements to forge a more resilient network.

Need Outsourced NOC Services?

Need Outsourced NOC Services?

Have inquiries? Interested in delving deeper into constructing, enhancing, or externalizing your NOC? Reach out to us to initiate the initial stride toward unlocking the complete capabilities of your IT framework and ensuring its continuous functionality around the clock.

Our NOC solutions empower you to fulfill demanding infrastructure support prerequisites and attain comprehensive command over your technology, assistance, and undertakings. Contact Advanced IT today and learn how our Managed IT Services in Chicago can help you shape your decision-making process. 

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