Imagine stepping into a NASA command center, with engineers directing their attention at a wall-sized, HiDef screen—something you could only dream of having in your “man cave” or entertainment room.
Such rooms actually exists.
And, unless you’re actually taking a tour of NASA, they’re typically known as a Network Operations Center (NOC), which is where engineers, solutions architects and security analysts manage and monitor network connectivity, both domestically and worldwide.
If data traverses a network—whether its via voice, video or data—it can be monitored within a NOC. Is traffic bogging down between New York and Dallas? Are voice calls dropping or littered with latency issues?
The NOC engineers will know about it—probably long before the end user—and oftentimes can fix the issue before it affects your day-to-day operations.
The NOC (pronounced “knock”) provides multiple levels of service—everything from simple Level 1 help desk support and trouble ticketing, to higher, more granular levels, including automation to handle more mundane, repetitive tasks that free up time for customers to work on more pressing, business-driving initiatives.
There are three primary subcategories regarding NOC monitoring, management and maintenance:
- Telecommunications networks, along with WAN circuits, are generally at the core of NOC monitoring, whether it’s local, national, or spanning the globe via transoceanic fiber optic cables. NOC engineers monitor and manage everything from dropped calls and network outages, to general performance and latency issues.
- LAN and WAN networks are monitored by engineers to review all traffic traversing an organization’s backbone, which is at the heart of its communications infrastructure. Regardless of the hardware or network assets utilized—whether routers, switches or hubs, to name a few—it can be managed and monitored.
- Satellite connectivity is no stranger to NOC engineers and specialists. Again, if it involves network connectivity, it can be monitored through the NOC, even if the 1s and 0s are bouncing off satellites 25,000 feet above the planet.
It’s becoming more and more common for companies, regardless of size, to turn to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) whose sole responsibilities are to monitor and manage network connectivity. In addition, they’re equipped to handle a wide array of issues, including network asset upgrades, software licensing and distribution, domain name management, and more.
But in the event organizations utilize their own NOC, which depending on the size of the network could mean a single NOC engineer overseeing the entire network, they often employ the services of MSPs.
Relying on a limited staff to handle the wide variety of issues that can afflict a network and prevent an organization from moving and and monitoring mission critical data is a tremendous task. Some may offload certain tasks and responsibilities (such as trouble ticketing and help desk support) to the MSP, while handling more granular or widespread issues.
Regardless of the tasks they hand off to an MSP, IT organizations and MSPs work in lockstep to identify and fix root causes, then ensure they’re resolved with the least amount of user interference or network downtime.
It’s rare to find large enterprises, service providers or large government agencies that don’t utilize MSPs. When thousands of network assets are involved, going it alone can take on otherworldly proportions.
MSPs worth their weight employ specific skill sets to manage and monitor network connectivity, provide SLAs, and utilize best practices such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL. (ITIL is a framework that outlines best practices for the delivery of IT services and outlines the key IT services lifecycle: service strategy and design, the transition and operations of services, and the continuation of services.)