How to Build a NOC
A NOC or network operations center is a centralized location where IT management technicians directly support the efforts of remote monitoring and management. NOC services are heavily utilized in IT spaces and in-service delivery for many managed services providers which are also known as MSPs.
The primary purpose is to keep a watchful eye over the endpoints that they monitor and manage, independently resolving issues that arise and taking precautionary measures to prevent or manage any future problems. They are also involved in high-tech security actions such as backup and disaster recovery efforts. They are often seen as the management watchdogs which ensure stability in the managerial services.
The Functions of NOC
- The basic function of NOC is to monitor the infrastructural health, security, efficiency and the capacity on a client’s environment.
- They make decisions and adjustments to ensure optimal network performance and organizational productivity. This is needed for the maintenance and well-being of the organization as a whole.
- They make decisions in order to adjust network performance and ensure organizational productivity. When there is an intervention required by Managed Services Providers, NOC can notify the issue and categorize it based on its severity.
- The NOC and the MSP can then work together in order to resolve such problems. The NOC is based on levels that indicate the severity of the difficulty of the issues the organization handles. These levels are numbered from 1-10. Level 1, for example, deals with minor and easier problems to solve, whereas level 10 deals with much more extreme situations.
- If the problem goes beyond any level’s ability or capacity, it keeps going up. So, the NOC is basically like a chain, whose levels are interconnected. They cooperate with one another in order to deal with the situation. For example, if there is a problem at Level 1, if it escalates, it is immediately shifted to level 2, if level 2 fails to deal with it, it shifts to a level above.
What NOC Technicians Do
- The NOC technicians are always researching anonymous activities on the network. They keep making technical adjustments and can reach out to extensive resources such as the IT service provider in case the emergency situation escalates.
- They are also in charge of application software installations, troubleshooting, and updating of the network. This is one of the most important tasks of the NOC as the updating of the network is important for the growth of the organization.
- It is also important for the sanity of it. They even email management services, mostly about the progress of the organization’s network. They keep them updated with the constant new changes that they face technologically.
- They even store and back up the management services of the firm. This is super important, especially for cross-referencing and revision of the managerial services that are there.
- It is also beneficial for the assessment and discovery of the network used within the organization. This also helps in the formation of policy and the enforcement of it. An organization needs to be constantly updated with the changes it previously made and the ones it has made recently in order to maintain strategy or policy planning.
- The NOC also scans Antiviruses that are there within the network of the organization, this prevents any form of theft, cybercrime or any other such crimes which could harm the privacy or data collection of an organization.
- The NOC prevents such instances from happening. The NOC also helps in maintaining performance. As it keeps a track of everything within the network if the organization is responsible for the reporting of the performance and also for improving on various recommendations and suggestions.
- The NOC is also a form of silent partnership as assessed by many analysts. When operating at the efficiency with a managed IT service partner, an end-user isn’t even aware of the NOC’s presence.
- NOC technician coordinate only with the MSP or solution provider they’re supporting—never with an end client. This enhances the user experience.
Should A NOC be In-House or Outsourced?
There is a wide debate on whether to keep the NOC in-house or outsourced. The fixed labor and infrastructure costs of building an in-house NOC are typically too much to cover while maintaining a profitable, growing business. This does of course depend on the services required and hours of coverage selected. New automation tools can help somewhat in this regard as they reduce the need for individual oversight.
Even while fully staffed, it would not be able to shift to meet the peaks and troughs of demand while simultaneously preparing for the maintenance of everyday IT tasks that need to be carried out.
Instead, MSP should consider partnering with a third-party NOC who can take on most of the technical work that needs to be done in a growing MSP practice. Instead of an unwieldy in-house operation, a NOC acts as an extension of the MSP’s existing workforce.
Advantages of a NOC
- NOC has many advantages at many different levels.
- The NOC is best for solving the skills gap which is there in the workforce.
- There is a shortage of skilled, qualified and experienced technicians that are capable of handling their own levels. The NOC is a more efficient, cost-effective option than hiring technicians for each task which can be done by a group of people instead.
- Due to the skills gap that is where it is difficult or simply impossible for the MSP to find staff or workers for their businesses with enough technicians. It is not easy for them to find someone with the right skillsets to grow their business profitable.
- Even if they do find such staff of workers, there skillset and uniqueness make them demand more salaries. Organizations hire such people in higher wages or salaries which again puts a heavy strain on the profit margin of the organization. A large sum of the profits attained by the firm goes on the salaries of these business experts.
- This makes it difficult to even scale the staff of the organizations. Scaling puts a further strain as different levels of staff groups, want different salaries and other fringe benefits associated with their employment package.
- The duty of the NOC is to make sure this does not happen. The NOC eliminates the skills gap by offering all resources that are required by the management of a firm or organization.
- They can hire technical staff at a flat fee each month, unlike hiring someone who demands a huge sum of money as salaries. As a result, the management profit margins go up. Their business grows due to a fall in its costs.
- As their variable costs go down, more resources can be added to the organization. These resources can scale up and protect the margins set or rather earned by these businesses or organizations, improving upon their conditions.
Difference Between NOC and SOC
There is also a difference between the NOC and SOC which is often overlooked by many. While they may look and sound similar, there are major differences in the objectives of a network operations center and a security operations center, otherwise known as a SOC.
The key criteria that both a NOC and a SOC have in common are that they work with the MSP to solve IT-related issues, and never with the end user. However, where a NOC will focus on the remote monitoring and maintenance of a client’s IT environment to meet SLAs and ensure client uptime free of technical malfunction, a SOC is much more security focused. SOCs monitor for vulnerabilities, attack vectors and emerging threats on a client network and are prepared to detect anomalies and mitigate cyber-attacks as they arise.
Most SOCs employ security information and event management (SIEM) process that aggregates information from various security-focused systems data streams. Everything from network discovery and vulnerability assessment systems, governance, risk and compliance (GRC) systems, penetration testing tools, intrusion detection, and prevention systems, log management systems; network behavior analysis and much more is collected and parsed by SOC technicians, who are themselves trained security experts.
NOCs and SOCs perform many services—all of it mission-critical value to an MSP—but there is little overlap in their missions or objectives. Rather, by engaging these teams to offer a wider range of services, MSPs receive a greater benefit than attempting to merge the tasks associated with these groups into one hybrid team.
There are various tools which you can use to make your NOC better. For a customized NOC, it might be a good idea to look at the following.
Nagios is a very popular option among most companies. It was the very first NOC package to come into the market, making it the oldest and most reliable for companies to follow. In fact, it is not just Nagios’ reputation which causes companies to use it. When looking at building a custom NOC, it might be good to look at how Nagios has evolved over time. It is adaptable for almost every kind of business, making it very easy for companies to adapt it to their business model.
There are plenty of ready-made NOC in the market that has copied Nagios’ format but Pandora is not one of them. Its development is very different from Nagios. What makes it stand out, even more, is that it is actually very good for infrastructure monitoring of all kind. From performance applications all the way to business monitoring.
Like Pandora FMS, Zabbix too is made from scratch, making sure that it is unique in every way. Unlike the two mentioned above, Zabbix looks at performance in great detail, looking at everything from status to transaction history and monitoring as well. You can do a lot more with Zabbix compared to the other two. This is actually perfect for those businesses looking for a more in-depth update to the running of their company so if you’re interested in a system like this, it might be a good idea to look at this in detail.
NOC provides many services to a company. However, choosing an in-house or outsourced NOC is largely up to you. However, there are more benefits to building a NOC that is customized to your business. We hope that you learned why it’s a better idea to build a NOC with this article. Let us know if you found this article to be helpful!