All you need to know about NOC in 2021

16 Sep 2021

A Network Operation Center, aka NOC, is an area in charge of monitoring 24x7x365 the activity, performance and health of a network infrastructure. It includes such things as alarm monitoring, fault detection, root cause identification and analysis, troubleshooting, support, configuration and maintenance, among other activities.

Unquestionably NOC is an area that ensures network availability, protects and maintains the network against downtimes and outages, assuring the proper functioning of the infrastructure.

Understanding how a NOC works. What does a network operations center really do?

The complexity of network management depends on the infrastructure to be monitored and its characteristics. The larger the network, the more complex it is. 

This diagram makes understanding  the concept of  NOC team work easy: 

Diagram makes understanding  the concept of  NOC team work easy

Network Operation Center Best Practices that need to be on your radar right now

Continuous monitoring & fault detection

The NOC team is responsible for ensuring that the network is running at its best. Therefore, a Network Operation Center monitors network faults, in order to detect issues as soon as they occur and troubleshoot them rapidly. Here are several things that it does:

  • Alarm and event monitoring. This requires an accurate event and alarm categorisation according to their severity. Also, the utilisation of a good notification system is essential to be able to notify any issue that requires the action of a field services team. 
  • Alert classification. There is a real need to classify alerts received to prioritise critical issues. Also, there are numerous repetitive alerts that can be reported and improve the efficiency of your team. 
  • Monitoring data traffic to ensure accurate performance and optimisation.
  • User experience and QoS monitoring (QoS means the quality of a service delivered to the customer). 
  • Performance monitoring. Ensuring network availability is also of utmost importance. Here a Business Continuity Plan comes into play, which can not be compromised. 
  • Power monitoring, in case of a system failure, it is necessary to guarantee backup systems supply. 

Incident response

Fixing issues quickly minimises costly downtime and avoids outages. That’s why fast troubleshooting is essential to operations whenever a fault is detected.  

For a fast and effective incident response it is necessary to define how to proceed in different situations. Therefore,  your network engineers always know what steps they need to follow to fix problems within the shortest possible time.

Analysis & reporting

  • Network behaviour analysis, including information about events, alarms, deviations, configuration changes… 
  • Troubleshooting and incident response activities. It is critical to know the way issues were fixed to define improvements to be implemented. 
  • Complete reporting covering aspects to improve the infrastructure and systems available in a network.
  • Network inventory. Here it is necessary to include information about circuits per department and/or per price, cards, spare parts and stock available to replace old equipment or the failed ones. 
  • Business Intelligence tools are a big plus. Usually, companies invest in a separate business intelligence tool. We advise you to use a NMS with BI capabilities incorporated already, allowing you to reduce costs. 

Configuration & maintenance

Assuring that the network is running properly and guaranteeing good conditions in order to meet business continuity goals are fundamental aspects of NOCs. 

Maintaining the infrastructure configured and updated is key. Your network must run smoothly, circuits must be configured and traced correctly, and each device installed, updated, and configured in a correct way. 

Supervision and maintenance 

  • HW and SW setup and implementation 
  • HW and SW updates, taking care of outdated equipment, firmware’s management… 
  • Backup and storage management.
  • Patch management.
  • Testing (script execution, configuration comparison, connections, etc.)
  • Using MIB Browser and MIB Compiler allows your team to manage all the devices.

If you are designing a NOC from zero

  1. Determine roles and professionals involved. Assign responsibilities for each area.
  2. Inventory of tools and systems is required, not only of current ones but also new ones, such as spare parts.
  3. Help desk ticketing system is utmost importance.
  4. Reports generation and other relevant documentation.
  5. Incident traceability determining root cause and correlation.
  6. Establishing processes, policies, and rules to figure out any issue that might occur.

What are the challenges facing Network Operation Centers (NOC)? 

Network Operation Center challenges can be divided into three categories:

  • Team challenges:
    • Lack of highly skilled staff and professionals capable of facing extremely stressful situations. 
    • Good coordination, collaboration, and communication.
    • A proper team organisation and structure.
  • Infrastructure challenges:
    • Numerous vendors in the same infrastructure.
    • Old and new equipment.
    • Spare parts management and inventory.
    • Scalability.
    • Root cause analysis.
  • Technological challenges:
    • Consolidated network management system with a comprehensive network view. 
    • Automation. 
    • Help desk and ticketing systems. 
    • Reporting tools. 
    • Field management system.

To conclude, digitalisation drives growth for infrastructures, incorporating multiple devices, technologies and systems making it more difficult to understand, to control and to get a complete view of the entire network.   

NOC is a complex area that requires a comprehensive tool to manage the network in the smartest way possible. Our NMS is already used by NOCs worldwide, moreover within critical infrastructures. Our system helps our clients effectively monitor issues, performance, security, as well as giving them incorporated BI to deliver the most exhaustive reports and dashboards.  

Contact us today and see what our NMS tool can do for your NOC!

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