The Virtual NOC Operator, Part III – Using Automation to Resolve the Top 5 NOC Issues

The Virtual NOC Operator, Part III – Using Automation to Resolve the Top 5 NOC IssuesMaintaining a 24/7 well-functioning Network Operation Center (NOC) is not an easy task to accomplish under normal circumstances. Add in the complexity of doing so during a global pandemic while simultaneously minimizing disruption and maximizing efficiency, and you’ve got quite the challenge on your hands. In the last of our three-part blog series, we’d like to help you rise to that challenge by identifying the five biggest issues NOC’s face and how you can use automation to resolve them.

Busy shifts and short-staffed situations

The NOC is typically a pretty chaotic place: there is always an incident to escalate, a service to restore or a report to produce, and all that while having to continuously monitor other services. Unfortunately, there’s not always enough manpower to accomplish all of these tasks successfully (especially given the current pandemic situation). With IT process automation, you can quickly and easily build automated workflows that will help carry a significant portion of the daily workload, even with limited staff.

Take for example a situation of a critical application that crashes twice a week and the solution is to remotely connect to a server and restart a service. The NOC operator has to open the procedure every time, check the server name, verify the service name and then start connecting to the server. This process can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, and that’s assuming that the operator noticed the alert right away. With automation, the entire process could be carried out autonomously in less than a minute, including sending an email to the application’s manager and updating a ticket.

Time-consuming daily tasks

The NOC is responsible for carrying out many day-to-day tasks – reports production, manual monitoring, or preventative activities, such as disk space cleanup and service resets. Naturally, executing all of these tasks is very time consuming and prevents NOC team members from getting ahead with other projects that could potentially advance the team. Alternatively, you can map out all tasks that have to be executed every shift, daily or weekly, and take the load off of your people by automating them.

Lack of technical knowledge

Not all NOC members necessarily have the same technical skills and knowledge. Therefore, some people might have more difficulties while handling an incident with a solution that requires advanced troubleshooting skills. The best solution in these cases is to have an expert to solve the problem for you: an expert can identify all troubleshooting steps and all possible options, and create an automated workflow that solves the problem perfectly every time.

Incidents not solved within the NOC

Many times the NOC is required to escalate incidents to other teams who are more qualified to handle them, or who possess the necessary permissions to solve them. When you automate such solutions, you can save the valuable time of a higher-tier team, or to avoid contacting on-calls in the middle of the night (which is always an unpleasant task). Another option is to semi-automate the workflow, meaning, that it can communicate with whoever is on-call while making important decisions.

Escalation process is unclear or complicated to follow

The point at which an escalation is required can get confusing due to the complexity of the escalation procedure, or the fact that each service/system requires a different procedure. During a busy shift, or when staff is short-handed, it can be quite difficult to keep track of the time that has passed from the previous step of the escalation, and which steps were already executed. This is especially the case when there are several open incidents at the same time.

Automating the escalation processes of frequent incidents or top services will prevent the confusion and ensure that your customers get their information correctly and on time – every time.

These are certainly trying times indeed. But as we rise up to face these evolving challenges, technology is at the helm to help us weather the storm. Don’t go it alone. Download your free trial of Ayehu and get your NOC on the path to a brighter, more successful future.