NOCs Explained: How A Network Operations Center Works & Why It’s Useful

As a computer network grows, so does the potential for glitches, crashes, and even hackers trying to break into your system. Integrating a network operations center to monitor your system is one of the most modern forms of defense system administrators have against potential glitches and prevent hackers from infiltrating your Internet before they happen.

With a Network Operations Center (NOC), IT specialists and engineers will work 24/7 to maintain your network to ensure it's securely operating at full capacity. If you're considering installing or upgrading a network operations center, your first step will be to ensure your network infrastructure is up to the task. Keep reading to learn more about how network operations centers work and if your network could benefit from one.

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What is a Network Operations Center?

A network operations center (NOC) is a centralized location where IT experts manage and monitor an organization’s network 24/7. NOCs function like your body’s central nervous system, ensuring that every component works efficiently and at optimal performance levels.

NOC technicians can be part of an internal IT department or based in a third-party location. NOC teams consist of engineers and specialists who take care of the network. They each play vital roles in maintaining your IT infrastructure, keeping it secure for everyone who uses it, and preventing hackers from infiltrating your network.

What Is a NOC Engineer?

Network operations center engineers are the muscle behind every robust network. A NOC engineer helps maintain and protect computer systems by analyzing and monitoring them constantly, identifying problems as they arise, and implementing resolution tactics to prevent those issues from spreading further. The NOC engineer’s job is to be proactive and reactive in monitoring systems.

What Is a NOC Specialist?

NOC specialists collect and analyze data from the organization’s IT infrastructure. The specialists can identify problems before they occur by keeping track of critical data. They then use this information to develop strategies for resolving network issues as they arise.

In addition to monitoring network performance and fixing problems, NOC specialists can configure the network to meet your needs. To do this, specialists will monitor system settings and configuration changes constantly to fine-tune adjustments as necessary.

Network operations center specialists typically work under the NOC engineering staff. When an engineer identifies network performance issues and develops a solution or designs operations to help the network run better, the specialists implement those changes.

The Ideal Design Layout for a Network Operations Center

Network operations centers aren’t designed with a “one size fits all” approach. Many factors contribute to designing a NOC, and the ideal format varies from business to business and network to network. As you consider the best design layout for your property’s NOC, consider the following factors:

  • The network’s size: A small organization may need only one server, while a larger organization may require hundreds. The more servers you have, the more critical it is to create separate areas within your NOC for each one. This allows you to focus on every aspect of your network independently without distractions from other areas.
  • The NOC team size: If you plan to have just two employees in an area, there’s no need for multiple workstations. However, if more than two people will be working at a single workstation or desk, adequate space should be allocated for everyone. A network operations center should provide enough room for everyone to sit while they work comfortably.
  • The amount of equipment: When determining the ideal design layout for a NOC, consider where the equipment will go. For example, servers that house all your customer data and ones that store sensitive financial information (such as credit card numbers) will require designated space within the NOC.

What All a NOC Can Offer

There’s no reason one person should burn out trying to manage a network alone. A network operations center will deal with network management and monitoring for your company, so you can issue money to other aspects of your company where it’s needed most. Besides freeing up time, implementing a NOC team provides your company with a world of benefits.

Increased Company Productivity

A NOC can make network and business operations more productive. NOC engineers can identify issues with the network before the end users notice them, avoiding time-consuming tech support calls and online chats. Instead of monitoring and resolving problems yourself, NOC specialists can implement solutions for you.

A network operations center gives you and your team more time for other business operations. Having more time means getting things done more productively and growing your organization.

Antivirus Support

With a NOC in place, you don’t have to worry about security notifications in the middle of the night or network alerts during dinnertime. Your dedicated IT team will take care of antivirus support for you, keeping your network safe and secure around the clock. This means fewer headaches for you and your team and more protection for those using the network.

Updated Hardware and Software

One thing that can make or break a business is having a network with outdated hardware or software. Even if the network doesn’t crash, it can still cause significant problems if it’s not updated regularly. A good NOC will keep your software and hardware up to date, ensure that the network functions at optimal performance, and doesn’t face constant glitches.

Internal IT Support

An added benefit of a NOC is their flexibility in their performance input. A NOC can reach out and handle select assistance cases if your company has an in-house IT team. They can be designated to handle outsourced issues, or they can be in charge of handling specific employee network cases, big or small.

Your internal IT department can focus on significant matters while outsourcing menial problems to the NOC group.

All-inclusive Services

A NOC can offer all the services you need in one centralized location. Network operations centers provide a one-stop shop with comprehensive services like security, helpdesk, and patch management. With a NOC, you won’t need to worry about juggling multiple vendors or working with various teams to maintain a robust IT infrastructure.

Network Performance Reports

With a NOC, you’ll receive comprehensive reports on your network’s performance and areas requiring special attention. When something goes haywire, you’ll know what caused it and what solutions are available. NOC technicians will also provide a comprehensive list of ways to improve your network using insights and analysis reports.

Is There a Difference Between a NOC and a SOC?

If you’re unfamiliar with the intricacies of network operations centers, you may not be aware of the difference between a network operations center (NOC) and a security operations center (SOC). While they hold many similarities, a NOC and a SOC do differ.

  • Responsibilities: A network operations center is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the network, including patching, monitoring, and responding to issues as they arise. On the other hand, a security operations center focuses more on security threats and incident response. While NOCs provide network security, that’s not their primary or sole emphasis.
  • Staff: A NOC staff typically consists of network engineers or technicians who maintain network devices and monitor performance. A SOC staff consists of analysts who regularly check for any malicious activity, such as hackers trying to break into your system or malware attempting to infect your computers. They’ll also respond to any incidents they discover.

What About the Differences between a NOC and a Help Desk?

A network operations center is wildly different from a help desk. The NOC is responsible for the overall health of your network, while the help desk focuses on individual user issues. A NOC team concentrates solely on internal network matters.

NOC responsibilities focus on monitoring your network and infrastructure to ensure that everything runs smoothly, from hardware to software to the applications that run on top of them. If an issue arises, NOC technicians resolve it as quickly as possible so you can continue business as usual. They also monitor for potential security issues and threats that may affect your business continuity.

The help desk is responsible for dealing with customer-based issues related to their computers or mobile devices—things like lost passwords or trouble connecting to Wi-Fi. A help desk will work with customers via email, phone call, or online chat until they resolve the issue.

How To Establish a Network Operations Center

Establishing a network operations center on your property might initially seem overwhelming. However, it’s not as daunting once you understand the steps involved. Following the steps below can make building a team easier.

Delegate Responsibilities

In a NOC environment, different individuals are responsible for various tasks. With an in-house network operations center, you’ll need to delegate responsibilities among the team so everyone is in charge of something.

For example, one employee may monitor your Internet connection’s bandwidth usage. Another employee may monitor all incoming phone calls from clients who have system performance issues.

Track Performance

If you’re planning to establish a NOC, you’ll need to track your network’s performance. Analyzing your network and saving metrics reports will help you understand how your network functions and what steps you can take to improve it. It’s always best to track as much of your network’s performance as possible, including things like:

  • Response time
  • Availability
  • Uptime
  • Error reports

Communicate With External Employees

Another step to set up your insourced NOC is establishing a communication channel between your company’s IT department and employees outside the office. Most NOC teams work externally from companies, and communicating network information with company employees helps everyone stay updated on the network’s performance.

By communicating with external employees, all parties know what to do if issues arise and the steps that need to be taken to rectify them.

Use the Correct and Applicable Tools

Using the correct tools for monitoring your network can help your NOC team identify potential problems before they become severe and negatively affect user productivity and customer satisfaction. When used properly, these tools will mediate issues quickly before critical data becomes inaccessible due to lost connections with other devices in the network.

Contact Us Today To Discuss A Network Operations Center Installation

Network operations centers are integral in maintaining functionality and security for enterprise networks. While not every organization may benefit from implementing a NOC, if you’re operating a network that is used for business operations or accessed by a large number of people daily, chances are a network operations center will streamline your processes and improve your overall efficiency.

If you’re interested in learning more about NOCs, our installation process, or any other low-voltage electrical services, don’t hesitate to call us at (754) 200-5872. Our representatives are standing by to answer any questions you may have and schedule your initial consultation today!