A network operations center (NOC) is a centralized hub where your IT provider monitors and supervises your network and systems.
Think of it as the control deck where your IT wizards work their magic, troubleshooting problems and protecting against disruptions and downtime. Some larger organizations have in-house NOCs, but most of the time it’s outsourced to an IT service and/or security provider.
The ultimate goal, for you, is to be able to rest easy knowing that eyes are on your network around the clock, enjoy optimal network performance, and know that you have a team in your corner to provide quick assistance and minimize risk.
Is a NOC the same as a helpdesk?
No, it’s not, and it’s important to understand the difference.
A helpdesk provides IT services and support, and has a thorough understanding of your networks, systems, and specific needs. They’re there when you need them, with a quick answer and helping hands. A NOC takes it a step further by providing proactive remote monitoring of client networks, management, and response, all as part of their service level agreements.
You call a helpdesk for help, but a NOC takes care of issues you may not even know are there in the effort to prevent network failures.
What services does a NOC provide?
Not exhaustive, but here’s a quick overview of what your NOC will help manage:
- Data backup and storage management, acting as a failsafe against corruption or loss
- Website and applications
- Wireless access points
- System software
- Pinpoint and repair network issues, minimizing downtime
- Software installation and updates
- Antivirus protection
- Holistic core network management and optimization
Should you create a NOC in-house or outsource?
If you have a large organization and the necessary resources, having an in-house NOC can feel like the best option.
After all, you’ll have a dedicated team completely at your disposal, with instant responses and deep familiarity with every network detail. Right? But that’s in a perfect world. Many businesses and organizations choose to have an outsourced network operations center, and not just because of budgetary considerations.
- Less overhead cost.
- Never worry about equipping your NOC team, or making expensive repairs or upgrades to their own suite of equipment, tools, and platform.
- No need to train, develop, and nurture a team and their set of standards/processes – outsourced professionals can be fully operational inside just a few weeks.
- An outsourced NOC team provides a prompt, individualized service experience, and specializes in the services you need.
- Take advantage of service agility that easily adapts to your evolving needs.
- The IT world is always changing. Do you really want to be responsible for providing an in-house team with the professional development and resources they need to work effectively?
What’s the difference between a NOC and SOC?
A network operations center (NOC) monitors and manages your network infrastructure, while a security operations center (SOC) focuses exclusively on identifying and preventing cyber attacks.
Your network operations center keeps your network and operations running smoothly and is equipped to handle normal bumps in the road: errors, outages, system failures, data loss/corruption, etc. A security operations center, on the other hand, specializes in working against invasive tactics and active cybersecurity threats. This is a completely different skillset, and requires a different set of tools as well.
In a perfect world, you would be supported by both types of teams: one for everyday optimization, and the other for protecting against threats.
NOC best practices
As we mentioned above, assembling and equipping an effective in-house network operations center is an uphill climb. A steep one. For our purposes here, we’re going to focus on what you should look for in an outsourced NOC, but the takeaways are very similar if you’re going to build one yourself.
An effective NOC offers overlapping strata of IT infrastructure, monitoring your performance, systems, network, and managing alerts. In other words, the right IT partner will get the big picture, and share with you exactly how they can add efficiencies, reduce technical issues/downtime, and let you reclaim headspace for your own daily work. They’re all about organizational productivity and helping you maintain normal operations.
Avoid the Break/Fix Model
Ask your prospective NOC provider how they will proactively protect and maintain your networks, rather than just fixing problems as they arise. An effective IT partner takes a proactive approach with real-time monitoring. You don’t want someone who just steps in when the alarm goes off, but knows how to keep the alarm from going off in the first place.
Find a NOC That Grows with You
Your business or organization may stay the same size, or you may have aspirations for growth. Make sure your NOC offers scalability, and can provide not just the services you need now, but the services you’ll need down the road too. This eliminates the hard work of finding a new IT provider and deepens the collaborative relationship.
Can Work within Your Environment
A NOC may offer suggestions for improvements and updates, but they also need to be able to operate within your existing network landscape, and manage your legacy equipment. Make sure that real solutions are presented during your initial conversations, and that an interest is shown in working with what you have (and what works).
Flexible Alert System
Around-the-clock monitoring doesn’t necessarily mean you need around-the-clock alerts. Your NOC should be flexible, alerting the people of your choosing within the times of your choosing.
Go Deeper Than Troubleshooting
The primary goal of your NOC is to prevent downtime and outages, right? But what if an unavoidable outage should occur? Ask your prospective IT professional about how they can help you get back online, fixing problems and making repairs in a timely fashion.
NOC Services for Businesses Throughout Maryland, DC, Southern Pennsylvania, and Eastern WV
Have additional questions about network operations centers, and how to protect your own infrastructure? Contact us at Teltek! It would be our pleasure to discuss your specific needs and options in more detail.