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.
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.