Should You Build a Network Operations Center?

A network operations center (NOC) is at the heart of any effort to manage your IT infrastructure. It provides a centralized location where the performance and health of the infrastructure are continuously monitored. 

Outsourcing or building a NOC allows IT operations teams to see the full picture of infrastructure activity at all times. By constantly monitoring alerts and the status of devices, applications, and connections, the NOC helps IT operations teams to quickly remediate any issues as they occur. In fact, in many cases, it addresses symptoms proactively before they cause service degradation.

At the end of the day, the NOC provides a core function for delivering the services your business relies upon and meeting the needs of your end customers and employees.

NOCs were traditionally on-premise in a data center. But as technology has evolved, today’s NOCs can be located pretty much anywhere, assuming there is secure, reliable access to the infrastructure estate under management. This had made possible the ability to reliably outsource the entire NOC function to a managed service provider (MSP). 

So, let’s answer the question: Should you build your own NOC from scratch, or rely upon an MSP to provide the service?

Need insight on evaluating a managed service provider for your organization? Download this MSP Evaluation Checklist to ensure you select the best partner.

The Financial Considerations of Building a Network Operations Center

Simply put, NOCs are expensive. They are costly to set up, to staff, and to run. Building a NOC from scratch involves a significant up-front outlay before any benefits can be realized. 

It is not just a matter of setting up the tools and technologies needed. A NOC needs to constantly stay on top of the technology curve to match the evolving nature of the infrastructure it is managing. This means that, in addition to the upfront costs, there are ongoing expenses to retool and upgrade as you go.

Then, of course, there is the people factor. All tools in the NOC need to be operated and maintained by technicians with very specific skill sets. Staffing and managing these resources is a non-trivial activity. There needs to be constant training to keep skills current. Hiring also becomes an issue, when operations personnel leave the organization and need to be replaced.

MSPs are focused on running the NOC as their primary business. Their core consideration is optimizing the delivery of NOC services to their customers. They take on the onus of maintaining the tools, staffing, and procedural aspects to deliver superior infrastructure uptime.

Since they bear the cost of initial setup and maintenance, an engagement with an MSP frees you up from the capital expense of the setup costs – and enables you to budget for a steadier operational expense over time.

The Business Angles of Building a NOC

Let’s face it – you are in the business of delivering the services and needs that your customers demand. This requires a digital infrastructure suited to the delivery of your business services.

The question becomes: if you are a mid-sized or large organization, do you want to spend the time and effort to operate a NOC to maintain this infrastructure? Or, would you rather focus on your core business and hand this function off to a trusted vendor?

When it comes to reliability, you need assurances that guarantee the uptime and availability of any outsourced NOC services. This is manageable with the use of a service level agreement (SLA), which clearly outlines the roles, responsibilities, response times, and expectations between your organization and the MSP providing the NOC function.

Another key aspect is to consider the evolving nature of your business. As your customer needs change and new channels to conduct commerce emerge, you need your service-delivery infrastructure and your NOC to scale and adapt with you. 

MSPs are particularly adept at rapidly scaling up (and down) based on your needs. They can even provide a short-term ramp-up. For example, they can plan to accommodate the additional load if you are expecting a large volume of calls or online orders for a sale or promotional event.

Should You Build Your Own NOC?

In this era of everything-as-a-service, the financial and business benefits of going it alone and building your own NOC are increasingly diminished. 

Managed service providers (MSPs) free you up to focus on what you truly need to do – run your core business and count on your NOC and infrastructure needs to be reliably catered.

MSPs provide a variety of engagement models to suit your needs. Most likely there are suites of options that can address any concerns that you may have.

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