What Are Network Operation Centers (NOCs) and How Do NOC Teams Work?
In this article, we will explore what Network Operations Center teams are and why their role is important in keeping businesses functional.
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Modern-day markets are highly competitive, and in order to foster stronger customer relations, we see businesses striving hard to be always available and operational. Hence, businesses invest heavily to ensure higher uptime and to have dedicated teams that constantly monitor the performance of an organization’s IT resources. In this article, we will explore what NOC teams are and why they are important.
The following pointers are covered in this article:
- What are NOCs?
- What do NOC teams do?
- Benefits of NOC
- Choosing the right monitoring tools for your NOC teams
- How can incident management processes and tools help organizations that have NOC teams?
What Are NOCs?
A Network Operation Center (NOC), also called "knock," is a center where teams supervise, monitor, and maintain an enterprise’s resources like its IT services, databases, external services, firewalls, and networks. These centers support remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM) processes. You can think of NOCs as rooms with devices that let teams visualize data about the infrastructure being monitored.
What Do NOC Teams Do?
NOC team structure and their contribution changes from organization to organization. A NOC engineer must:
- Effectively collaborate and communicate with concerned team members
- Provide timely, relevant, and detailed incident alerts to the right members
- Keep track of key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Back up data and engage in disaster recovery
- Monitor and manage network security
- Do preventive maintenance and health reviews
Benefits of NOC
Organizations that have dedicated NOCs — be they in-house/on-premises or outsourced — can expect to reap some or all of the following benefits:
- With 24/7 monitoring, it helps identify system issues/threats and promotes quick incident response, thus reducing downtime.
- The IT teams are freed to work on things that are vital to the company, then just the routine maintenance or patching work.
- NOCs save organizations the trouble of manually troubleshooting, installing, and updating their hardware and software.
- With improved infrastructure, many organizations benefit from better administration and on-demand reporting.
- With their monitoring capabilities, NOCs help reduce unwanted alerts and reduce alert fatigue.
Choosing the Right Monitoring Tools for Your NOC Teams
While choosing NOC tools, looking for features that enhance or ease your NOC teams’ operations is important. Some common features an organization should look for are:
- Ease of incident tracking or ticketing
- Ability to monitor infrastructure and user experience
- Ease of automation
While choosing, an organization should consider the following factors:
- The nature of data being tracked (real-time, historical, or both)
- Time needed to manage your network and IT resources
- Complexity of your IT resources
- Need for 24/7 monitoring
- Tools and systems that you want to integrate with your IT services
Here is a list of popular NOC tools:
SolarWinds Orion is a scalable infrastructure monitoring and management platform. It is designed to simplify IT administration for on-premises, hybrid, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) environments, in a single pane of glass. SolarWinds Orion ensures you do not have to struggle with numerous incompatible point monitoring products, as it consolidates the full suite of monitoring capabilities into one platform with cross-stack integrated functionality.
LogicMonitor is a fully-automated, cloud-based infrastructure monitoring platform for enterprise IT and managed service providers giving full-stack visibility into networks, cloud, and servers with one unified view.
Zabbix is a mature, enterprise-level platform that allows you to monitor large-scale IT environments comprising servers, networks, applications, services, and the cloud.
Datadog is a monitoring platform for cloud applications that bring together data from servers, containers, databases, and third-party services, thus providing observability into the entire stack.
New Relic is an observability platform built to help engineers create more perfect software. From monoliths to serverless, you can instrument everything, and then analyze, troubleshoot, and optimize your entire software stack, all from one place.
How Do Incident Management Processes and Tools Help Organizations that Have NOC Teams?
Network Operations Center (NOC) teams are responsible for monitoring and managing IT resources. To ensure high availability, they need:
- Quick alerts for the incidents once they are noticed
- Tools for alert prioritization, management, and suppression
- Ability to monitor infrastructure in different environments
- Retrospectives and postmortems to prevent or limit future failures
Good incident management processes and tools can help organizations in:
- Automating manual tasks to reduce workload and toil
- Receiving timely alerts from various monitoring systems
- Automating ‘mapping and routing’ alerts to the right people
- Setting up effective on-call schedules
- Tagging incidents across all active integrations for a specific service
- Leveraging event intelligence for alert suppression
- Tracking the status of services with the status page
- Reducing response times with clear diagnosis
- Generating detailed postmortem reports
In recent times, traditional NOC teams have struggled with several aspects of infrastructure management. With organizations moving to the cloud, and the availability of monitoring and incident management tools, the operational processes have undergone several changes in recent years. There is a need to reduce manual work so smaller teams can manage larger infrastructures more efficiently. There is also a need for organizations to transform their static, manual-driven networks into dynamic, automated, software-defined networks to connect a wide range of users for effective monitoring and timely response. Setting up effective incident management practices can help organizations in:
- Reducing their dependency on NOC teams
- Reducing the NOC team’s workload so the team can be downsized
- Boost overall incident response and alerting efforts
It is essential to have NOCs as they help you increase efficiency and reduce operational costs by combining resources under one roof. They play a vital role in communicating important metrics and meeting tight SLAs. But with the right tools and resources, organizations/NOC teams can automate repetitive processes, lower errors, and leverage available bandwidth to increase productivity.
Published at DZone with permission of Vishal Padghan. See the original article here.
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