4 Outsourced NOC Services Questions to Ask Service Providers

Are you considering outsourced NOC services? It’s a big decision. On the one hand, NOC outsourcing can significantly reduce costs and free up resources to drive strategic projects. However, it can also carry a significant risk – particularly if you choose the wrong service provider. How do you assess an MSP’s capabilities and whether they will deliver the level of service you expect?

Here are four critical questions you need to ask:

Is the MSP Experienced with Your Applications and Infrastructure?

Let’s assume you want to rewire your house. Would you hire a plumber or an electrician? The answer is obvious. A good electrician has the qualifications and experience needed to make a success of the job. A plumber? Highly unlikely – in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster.

So, why would you hire an MSP that knows nothing about your IT environment? You want a NOC service provider who will hit the ground running, rather than struggling to learn on the job. Otherwise, you’ll waste the first year or more while they come up to speed – and you’ll spend even more time firefighting service outages along the way.

Here’s the bottom line: look for an MSP with a proven track record of managing your types of applications and infrastructure – whether that’s a Cisco contact center or a VMware private cloud. Don’t just be tempted by the lowest cost and empty promises – otherwise, you’ll end up paying the price.

Can Your Outsourced NOC Services Scale to Support Your Business?

There are literally hundreds of MSPs out there – and they’re not all created equal. Before you choose an MSP to provide outsourced NOC services, ask yourself whether they have the capacity to effectively support your business. Even if your business is relatively small, you want to choose an MSP that has enough skilled resources to stay abreast of the latest technology developments – and that can offer responsive 24×7 service even when they’re dealing with high incident levels.

If your IT organization supports a large business, finding an MSP that scales is even more important. It’s not just about resources. It’s also about finding an MSP that knows how to work with large organizations – and that will invest to understand your specific needs. Industry-specific experience is also crucial – for example, if you are in the banking sector, then look for an MSP that already works with major financial institutions. Similarly, if you are a retailer with a large, distributed call center environment, choose an MSP that already supports major retail contact centers.

Does Your Outsourced NOC Services Follow Best Practice ITIL Processes?

ITIL is more than an acronym. It’s a proven way of delivering vastly increased visibility and control of IT processes. In a NOC environment, ITIL incident management provides a structured, formalized framework for managing service issues – delivering a range of key benefits including more timely resolution of service outages, increased operational efficiency, enhanced visibility for business stakeholders and consistent capture of incident information to support ongoing process optimization.

However, ITIL isn’t just a process framework. It’s also an indicator of the maturity level of the MSP. When an MSP follows ITIL best practices, it’s an indicator that they have kept pace with the industry power curve and that they are serious about investing in delivering high-quality services. On the other hand, MSPs who don’t offer ITIL typically struggle with outdated, unstructured processes – and that translates into much poorer business outcomes.

How Quickly Can Your Outsourced Noc Services Diagnose and Remediate Service Issues?

Organizations typically work with outsourced noc services for a number of reasons – for example, to reduce costs, to free up resources for strategic initiatives, or to provide out-of-hours coverage. However, the ultimate goal of a NOC is to keep critical business services up and running. Unless your NOC service provider can reliably restore service within a well-defined and acceptable period of time, you’re putting your business at risk.

Ask about your MSP’s NOC platform. If they are using a disconnected set of tools, then the chances are that it will take them a long time to restore service. For example, if they have to manually correlate data from multiple monitoring systems, this can easily add several hours – or more – to the incident investigation process. On the other hand, some NOC platforms offer automated root cause analysis – which can shorten this root cause analysis time to 30 seconds or less. At Optanix, we’ve seen this type of intelligent technology reduce overall fix times by up to 50%.

The Bottom Line

Outsourced NOC services are a major business decision. While they can reduce costs and free up resources, they also pose a significant risk if you don’t choose the right service provider. Look for a NOC service provider that:

  • Has a proven track record with your particular type of IT environment and technologies
  • Possesses the skills and resources needed to support your business – and can grow as you grow
  • Offers best-practice ITIL processes – and has the maturity to use these effectively
  • Leverages intelligent technology to quickly diagnose and remediate service issues
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