Building a NOC or Outsourcing

This post was initially published on CX Expert. It has been updated and revised based on current technology and changing business requirements.

Regardless of which side of the issue you are, there are a few people who would dispute the fact that the managed services model of facilities offers the most control and security for the client. The reason behind building a NOC should be evident.

If the NOC is built and operated correctly, it will provide a secure and enclosed space for the managed service provider (MSP) to be able to view its managed services operations. You can think of it as a mission control center where managed service providers can view the IT network of the client and manage all the activities that take place across an MSP’s entire network of clientele. The NOC has come to represent one of the characteristics of MSPs for many years. Companies can still rely on software such as Freshdesk CRM to ensure good results.

For the NOC to be effective, it must possess certain features. The features tend to be similar when you compare them side by side. For the MSPs who are starting out, there are cost-effective methods to help them achieve each of these essential features.

Security

It is necessary for a NOC to be secure. However, most people might find it difficult to understand what this means. A lot of smaller MSPs have visions of expensive and large NOCs. These preconceived notions cause smaller businesses concern and many never undertake to build their NOC.

A NOC does not have to be expensive and cost millions of dollars for it to be effective. It is essential to have a NOC enclosed. It should be limited to the employees who can access client networks. Also, the facility should have security controls to ensure that only the authorized employees can enter the NOC. This simply means that you must have locked in place and have systems or people to watch the technicians who come in, work and leave the facility.

If a business is or deals with credit cards for example, the requirement is quite similar and the PCI or PA DSS certifications require a secure facility.

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Redundancy and Backups

It is worthless to build a NOC on the sand. The NOC represents the security, stability, and integrity for those MSPs who possess one as well as the clients who rely on them. The NOC should be well-built.

This means that it should take into consideration the natural order of things. This includes how unforeseen problems can happen to throw an MSP’s entire world into problems. Some natural occurrences such as storms, earthquakes and power disruptions can cause havoc on an unsuspecting managed service provider.

Backup power and redundant internet connectivity are just a few of the features that will make a NOC effective and viable.

Sharing of the minds

A good NOC should be able to do more than provide physical and network security. It can offer a managed service provider with something more important than the technological benefits. This means that the MSP’s technicians working in a central place should collaborate to solve problems.

Physically proximate technicians to one another can work together and solve issues concerning client and share information that can help in educating the MSP. As a managed service provider, one of the most important traits is expertise and education related to business and technology. Being in the same room is more superior to sharing information through the email.

Building a virtual NOC

A lot of MSPs choose to forgo building a NOC that is physical in favor of building a virtual NOC. Maybe you don’t know what is involved in constructing a virtual NOC because it is very natural. For you to answer this crucial question, it is important to consult with the UCS which is the Unified Certification Standard because this is the template that exists and addresses how the MSPs should employ a virtual NOC in an environment of managed services.

The certifications of managed services and audits outline the use of virtual NOC and the operation guidelines for technicians as they travel. Operating a virtual NOC and MSP comes with the challenge of maintaining adequate security. As the virtual NOC technicians leave or enter the office, traveling to client sites and going to other locations, keeping physical security, accurate logs and maintaining managed services of high standards can be difficult. Therefore, the MSP should implement certain protocols that will ensure the integrity of client data. Using encryption technologies, poison pill technology, strong authentication and other forms of common sense should be cheap and small MSPs should be able to afford them.

This means that a technician who takes a laptop that was used to monitor a client should be guarded both outside the MSPs office and inside. The managed service provider should, therefore, have a mechanism for auditing the work done by its technicians irrespective of their location. In short, audit procedures and security employed in running a NOC that is physical should also be used to operate a virtual NOC. The redundancy backups and physical security are the only things missing which only a physical NOC can offer.

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Partner vs. Build

This is an important issue that consumes the attention of a lot of young entrants to the managed services profession. There is the opportunity to build a virtual NOC that is robust although there are some MSPs who still decide to partner with existing managed service providers in order to leverage that manage services provider’s NOC. Partnering with another MSP to access a physical NOC should not be taken lightly. It is important to know all the facts and make informed decisions for your practices.

Young MSPs come into the partnerships for the reason of having nothing to do with the availability of a physical NOC. It is normally a reason for lack of confidence and business process. However, MSPs should weigh the decision because the wrong choice can lead to unwanted repercussions. It is difficult to advise everyone on the right path in the long run because companies have unique situations. However, if a business decides to partner with a managed service provider who has a NOC, then it is important to choose a partner that has passed the audits.

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Hutch Morzaria

I am an ITIL Expert and extremely passionate about customer service, customer experience, best practices and process improvement. I have led support, service, help desk and IT teams as well as quality and call center teams in Canada and the UK. I know how to motivate my teams to ensure that they are putting the customer first.

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