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Will NOC Automation Eliminate the Need for Human Personnel?

Will NOC Automation Eliminate the Need for Human Personnel?Whether you work in a dedicated Network Operations Center (NOC) or operate something similar as part of a team that processes incoming tickets, you’ve probably already heard rumblings about the concept of NOC automation. Perhaps you’ve bought into the idea that this technology will all but eliminate the need for human workers. Maybe you’ve already started brushing up your resume, looked into going back to school or are even thinking of changing career paths. Will NOC automation really replace human personnel? Not quite. In fact, to the contrary, here are five ways it will actually make your job even better.

Avoid Alert Fatigue

NOCs and their smaller counterparts handle an incredibly high number of tickets on a daily basis. Logic predicts that the greater the volume of tickets, the more challenging it becomes to do your job effectively. This is why so many in this field experience burnout, sometimes known as alert fatigue. Furthermore, with so many minor issues being fielded, it can be difficult to focus the appropriate amount of attention on critical situations, which means the entire organization can potentially suffer.

With NOC automation, much of the repetitive day-to-day tasks can be shifted to machine and the entire alert process can be streamlined and optimized. Add in the option of self-service automation, which allows the end-user to handle many of their own simple requests, like password resets, and the skilled IT pros are suddenly freed up to apply their time and talent to more important tasks.

Improve Communications

When an incident occurs in a busy NOC environment, it’s alarmingly easy for the process to hit a bottleneck or become lost in the shuffle. This is especially the case for situations in which escalation is required. The front-line employee may initiate a request immediately, but if that process isn’t managed properly, there’s no telling where it will go from there. NOC automation is specifically designed to streamline the notification and escalation process so that everything moves through the pipeline in a smooth, timely manner.

When IT staff responds to a notification, an automatic follow-up message can be triggered after a pre-defined timeframe. When the problem is resolved, the incident is closed and a recovery notification is distributed. If the problem remains open, an alert is automatically sent to the system administrator for further review and attention. This ensures that the lines of communication always remain open and flowing freely to eliminate costly delays.

Greater Incident Management

When an incident is triggered and a NOC employee is available to handle it, there’s usually no issue. But what happens if that person isn’t available, or doesn’t have the capacity to respond in a timely manner? The risk of a ticket sitting in limbo is greatly increased without some type of automated strategy in place. When NOC automation is implemented, the incident management process is much more efficient.

When an incident is triggered, the appropriate representative is notified. Here’s where technology really makes a difference. Should that person fail to respond in a specified amount of time, the system automatically escalates the incident to the next person in line, and so on. Furthermore, notifications and responses can be sent in a variety of ways, including email and SMS, which makes the entire process easier.

Gain Better Insight for Best Practices

NOC teams that perform best know that it requires continuous process improvement to stay a step ahead of the game. This is achieved through detailed, strategic reporting and analysis. Done manually, this can be a bear to perform and is probably at the top of the list of the least enjoyable tasks. The good news is, NOC automation is capable of enhanced tracking and reporting, which means that the necessary data will be available ad-hoc at the click of a button. Advanced analytics can then be performed to help identify and develop best practices for ongoing success and future improvement.

Escalation to Management or Clients

Depending on the type of service your NOC provides, keeping customers in the loop on the status of incidents may be a requirement. Furthermore, those in leadership roles within your organization, including executive management and possibly even specified shareholders, should be kept abreast of the status of things like significant outages. In either of these cases, figuring out who needs to know what, who will be in charge of spearheading this communication and executing an open dialogue can be a challenging and time-consuming task.

With NOC automation, alerts can be automatically sent to designated parties so they are kept in the loop and workflows can be set up to notify other business stakeholders about critical incidents. Additionally, in-depth reports on incident resolution performance and mean time to repair (MTTR) can be generated to satiate management and keep them in-the-know, reducing the need for follow-ups and manual status reports.

In conclusion, NOC automation is not poised to take over and replace human workers, but rather it is designed to enhance and complement the skilled personnel working within.

Want to see for yourself just how these benefits can play out in your NOC? Start a free trial of eyeShare today by clicking here.





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Is Your NOC Bullying Your SOC?

Is Your NOC Bullying Your SOC?Without question there are marked similarities between the Network Operation Center (NOC) and the Security Operation Center (SOC). Unfortunately, these similarities often lead to the misconception that the duties of each role are interchangeable. Couple this with the widespread opinion that having a NOC in place negates the need for a formal SOC and you’ve got a scenario wrought with tension, resentment and, often times, downright bullying. In reality, the NOC and SOC both provide unique value to the organization, but only if they are able to cohesively work together.

Key Differences

The first step in marrying the NOC and SOC in a harmonious relationship involves recognizing and understanding the key, fundamental differences between both roles. Yes, both teams may be responsible to some degree for identifying, evaluating, resolving and/or escalating issues, however it is the type of issues and their subsequent impact that ultimately separate these two groups. For example, the NOC is typically tasked with handling incidents that affect availability and/or performance while the SOC focuses mainly on incidents that could potentially impact the security of assets. Both are working toward a shared goal of managing risk, however, how they approach and achieve that goal varies greatly.

Measuring Performance

NOCs and SOCs are also measured differently in terms of performance. The job of the Network Operations Center is to manage, maintain and meet service level agreements (SLAs) as well as handle incidents in such a way that limits any potential downtime as much as possible. In other words, NOC technicians are measured on how well they optimize system availability and performance. The Security Operations Center, on the other hand, is measured primarily on how well they protect sensitive data, hence the “security” title.

Both of these tasks are of critical importance to the success and ongoing profitability of an organization and should therefore be handled as separate but equal functions. Unfortunately, many organizations fall into the trap of believing that both can be combined into one universal operation. This can spell disaster, not necessarily because either is incapable of handling the other’s duties, but rather because of the stark contrast with which each approaches their role.

Separate But Together

Another key reason the NOC and SOC should be operated individually but in conjunction with one another is because of the specific skillsets technicians of each specialty possess. For example, a NOC analyst must possess proficiency in network, systems and application engineering. This extensive experience and educational requirement has occasionally led to the mistaken opinion that NOC team members are somehow smarter or more skilled.

In reality, SOC analysts must exhibit a similarly complex skillsets specific to security engineering, thereby debunking the notion that NOC representatives are somehow superior. Driving home these distinct yet equally important differences can help mend fences and create a more cohesive interdepartmental relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

Further complicating the situation is the very nature of the adversaries each group must deal with on a daily basis. The NOC focuses on naturally occurring system events while the SOC faces vastly different “intelligent adversaries,” such as hackers and other cyber-criminals. As such, the solutions and strategies each group must develop, implement and maintain will also vary significantly. Expecting one group to adapt to the other’s policies, processes and priorities is a recipe for disaster.

Greater Demands = Higher Turnover

Lastly, there is the reality of the many demands and pressures placed on each of these groups and the subsequent way they respond. Security Operation Centers tend to have a much higher turnover rate than that of NOCs, with the average length of employment of a level 1 SOC topping out around 2 years or less. This is due in large part to the volatile and ever-changing nature of security operations. The tenure of NOC representatives tends to be significantly longer. It would therefore only stand to reason that expecting a NOC analyst to also take on the duties of a SOC would result in greater attrition and subsequently higher turnover rates across the board. It’s a costly price to pay for most businesses.

A Match Made in Heaven

Ultimately, the ideal solution to avoiding issues between the NOC and SOC is to recognize, understand and respect the subtle yet fundamental differences and find a way to foster collaboration and cooperation between the two. One way to accomplish this goal is to employ technological tools, such as automation, to connect both teams, promote the sharing of data and systems and facilitate a close working relationship through which each department complements the other. The SOC can focus on identifying and analyzing security incidents and use the data they gather to propose fixes to the NOC, which can then evaluate and implement those fixes accordingly, improving operations as a whole.

Get started with automation for your NOC, SOC or both by downloading your free trial of eyeShare today.





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What is “Zero Level Support” and How Your NOC can Benefit from It?

Network Operation Center NOC LEVEL ZERORunning a successful IT operations requires achieving as much efficiency as possible. Most organizations do this by employing multi-level Network Operation Center (NOC) personnel. But that comes at a cost. What if there was a way to accomplish the majority of the work of lower-level NOC operations without requiring the additional personnel? With IT Process Automation, this is more than just a possibility – it’s completely achievable! It’s called zero-level support and it’s something that could potentially revolutionize your IT operations. Here’s how.

Level 1 NOC operations is typically the first line of contact for the end-user when an IT problem arises. As a result, this team handles many tasks that become routine and repetitive, which ultimately takes up a great deal of time that could be more effectively allocated elsewhere. IT Process Automation eliminates this waste of time and resources by taking these repetitive manual tasks and automating them, essentially freeing up the level 1 NOC personnel to be able to focus on other tasks that cannot be automated. In fact, up to 80% of first level NOC operations can be automated.

Some of the level 1 tasks that can be automated include:

  • Monitoring tickets, notifications and alerts and escalating issues
  • Ticket Troubleshooting
  • Restart Services, Password Resets, disk space cleanup
  • Updates and Documentation

When these routine tasks are no longer required to be handled manually, level 1 employees become empowered to do more complex tasks normally handled by level 2 NOC, which in turn allows higher level teams to take on more responsibility. This can significantly improve employee morale for your entire IT operations as a whole. Statistics have shown, time and time again, that satisfied employees are more productive and produce better output, so everyone benefits – from internal teams to end-users to external customers.

For NOC managers, IT Process Automation also makes the important job of staffing their departments much easier. When an organization has the right IT process automation tool in place, hiring a team of IT professionals no longer requires the presence of all the skills and capabilities as it would if the jobs were to be completed manually. Because so many of the manual tasks are handled by the software, the employees don’t necessarily have to possess the lengthy list of skills and experience they once may have in order to qualify.

Essentially, technology tools can replace the need to find employees that possess many of the skills previously required for these types of jobs. This allows managers to seek candidates that have other important business skills, creating a more robust team of professionals.

What all of this basically boils down to is the fact that withIT Process Automation, technology can essentially become your foundation of support – otherwise known as zero level. This makes the jobs of the other levels – from the 1st level up – as well as the management responsible for assembling highly effective, talented teams, much easier and much more efficient. This can ultimately benefit your entire organization as a whole.





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