Today’s IT organizations face incredible challenges. Customers, both internal and external, demand 24x7 uptime and availability. There are constant security threats, audit and certification requirements, cloud migrations, patching, upgrades and more projects than hours in the day or dollars in the budget. IT departments are stretched to the limit, trying to offer 24x7 support with a 9-to-5 staff. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
If you’re looking to deliver more value to your organization without breaking the bank and hiring additional staff, you might consider partnering with an outsourced NOC services provider. Here are eight benefits you should expect from a NOC partner:
1 — 24x7 Coverage
Your network infrastructure is a complex and evolving set of interconnected platforms. Automated monitoring platforms simply cannot compare to having an actual engineer’s eyes on your network. To offer 24x7 coverage internally, you’d need at least seven dedicated engineers on staff. We’re not talking about an on-call solution, but actual engineers keeping an eye on things days, nights, weekends, and holidays. Doing so, however, is both expensive and inefficient.
A NOC partner should bring both value and efficiency to your operations with dedicated, skilled staff available to monitor your networks and alert you to outages and impairments. More experienced NOC partners should also offer remediation of outages, insights, and expertise.
2 — Advanced Expertise
You are likely expert in many areas of IT, whether networking, server administration, database administration, applications, e-commerce, or some other specialty. A Network Operations Center must transcend these other areas to provide an integrated “single pane of glass” view into the health and operation of those critical systems. To do so, however, requires a different kind of expertise.
A background in network operations is key, but a NOC partner should also be expert in monitoring methodologies like SNMP, WMI, JSON, XML, Syslog, and other related protocols. They should be able to provide trend analysis and insight to provide proactive alerts, the ability to develop custom checks and balances, a way to silence alerts during maintenance windows, and the capability to specify a class of service to make sure the right people, at the right time, are alerted to problems. Experience leads to expertise, which ultimately manifests itself as focus.
3 — Focus
There are many components that are involved in providing reliable service to your customers—from network equipment and servers to the applications running on them. Unless you’re a NOC services provider yourself, it’s likely that infrastructure monitoring is less of a focus and more of an afterthought. That’s not an accusation, as much as an observation. For your NOC partner that is not the case. Monitoring and reliable service is their only focus, it’s what they do. Taking what may be an afterthought to a high-level focus to improve reliability and customer service will benefit both your IT staff and your customer satisfaction.
4 — Customized, Flexible Monitoring Solutions
Do you have critical processes that run every night? What happens if they don’t complete? Certain critical functions or devices cannot be properly monitored with standard off-the-shelf monitoring systems. These functions require custom scripts to properly detect a failure or impairment. NOC partners have the expertise and focus to develop custom scripts that take into account the unique requirements of your business. A NOC service partner can build scripts that check for completion of your critical processes at the appropriate time to determine if your functions succeeded. Alerting you of an issue within minutes of the failure allows your business to correct the issue before it affects your customers.
You may have a web application that you need to exercise to fully determine its availability. NOC partners can develop synthetic transactions that are capable of fully testing your websites and alert you if your sites are malfunctioning in any way. These types of tests can be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with off-the-shelf solutions. Fully testing your sites gives you the certainty that your customers are able to utilize all aspects of your web applications at all times.
5 — Eliminating Noise
Out-of-the-box monitoring solutions may seem easy, but what happens when the number of alarms being sent becomes overwhelming? The answer to that is simple. The alarms are ignored and outages are missed! Your NOC services partner can “dial down” the alarms to what is truly important so your staff does not become desensitized to alarms. Your NOC partner can go even further by setting up custom classes of service (COS) to only alert you when you need to be informed. Along with COS, your NOC partner can also verify whether the alarm is valid and ongoing, before notifying your IT staff. With all of these capabilities in place, your IT staff will not be distracted with false positives and bogus alarms. More importantly, they won’t miss the real ones.
6 — Eliminating Busy Work
Your computing environment is constantly changing and evolving. New equipment is added, networks are changed, and new websites are launched. All of these changes are good for your business and these changes need to be monitored. But who is updating your monitoring system? If it is your staff, what are they not doing while they are maintaining the monitoring system? There is always an opportunity cost. NOC services partners will keep their monitoring system up to date, freeing your staff from this busy work and allowing them to focus on the activities that generate value for your organization.
Often monitoring a new device or application is more involved than just adding an IP address and checking a few boxes on a webpage. It can involve researching how best to monitor the device. Does it support SNMP? Does it offer a REST API? What metrics should be gathered? Which ones can be ignored? What thresholds should be set? NOC services providers are experienced working with a wide variety of devices and applications. They have experts that can spend the time researching and determining which critical metrics are important, and developers to implement them. This allows your staff to focus on projects important to your business instead of developing expertise in how to monitor it.
7 — Added Value
A top-tier NOC partner operates as an extension of your staff, providing value to your organization by minimizing outages in your network and decreasing the mean time to repair (MTTR). You can expect increased uptime of your network and more staff hours dedicated to other projects, as their time will no longer be spent on the care and feeding of a monitoring platform. Your NOC partner will maintain the monitoring platform 24x7, keep eyes on your network around the clock, and allow you to leverage their expertise for a fraction of the cost of monitoring in-house.
8 — Peace of Mind
The ultimate benefit of partnering with a NOC services provider is peace of mind. Knowing your network is under constant watch by a highly skilled NOC is invaluable. No matter what time of day or day of the week, you can expect your NOC partner to be on duty, focusing on your network, and responding to all alerts. No more missed alerts while someone sleeps through a page or misses an email. Can it get any better? Yes it can! It’s nice to be alerted of an outage in your network at two in the morning, but it’s GREAT to sleep through it and find out the next morning your NOC partner fixed the issue, following a specific set of steps that you want followed, while you had a good night’s rest.