Why Companies are Choosing to Outsource Their NOC
Outsourcing. It’s a “thing.” And it’s proving to be highly advantageous to businesses that need access to a variety of top talent sans the hiring hassle. Outsourcing app/web development, business processes (BPO) and/or infrastructure maintenance has become ‘business as usual’ for a lot of companies. But there’s a newer acronym in the outsourcing space – NOC outsourcing.
What is NOC?
NOC stands for Network Operating Center – a typically internal IT function that comprises all of the activities, aimed at maintaining smooth infrastructure, systems, and networks operations.
For managed IT services providers (MSPs) ensuring top NOC performance is non-optional. Otherwise, you risk losing your business due to breached SLAs. But as we all know, things can go awry with remote monitoring and management (RMM) software at any time of day or night. This often means placing your team members “on-call” during non-working hours – not the best ‘perk’ for employees, right? Besides, ensuring seamless NOC services provisioning 24/7/365 is costly.
Source: TF NOC Survey Report
As a result, a lot of businesses are now engaging with dedicated NOCaaS providers. And this outsourcing trend makes perfect sense for several other reasons beyond continuous support.
The Benefits of Adopting NOCaaS
First and foremost, all businesses, no matter what the size, understand the key role that their NOC plays in all of their functions. Proper operations mean stability, solid and consistent functionality, and security through continuous monitoring and maintenance of IT infrastructure.
But when that infrastructure is moving to the cloud, even in increments, the monitoring and maintenance must change too. It’s not that you are giving up control, so much as it is you need to put into place a NOC that is compatible with that migration. And outsourcing that function has some clear advantages:
1. Financial Considerations
There is a continuous flow of new monitoring tools that are developed in response to new potential threats and issues. Such tools can be a big budget expense, not to mention the training that in-house tech staff must take to use them. Especially for small to mid-sized companies, these costs cannot often be anticipated and are hard to budget for. Outlays for setting up an initial in-house NOC environment is a big cost too. Outsourced NOC, on the other hand, is a known expense that can be budgeted for in advance.
And if you hire new employees for your NOC functions, you understand the cost. If you don’t increase staff, then you are training existing staff and pulling them from other work. And, of course, when an issue arises, it’s “all hands on deck,” if it is a big event. And there really is no choice here. IT functions have to operate smoothly if everyone in the organization is to be able to perform their tasks.
2. Better Business Focus
You run a business. You want to grow and develop new products and services. This means that you have projects that will necessarily involve your in-house IT staff. If they have to spend time chasing issues, they must take their focus off business functions and solve problems instead.
When you decide to use a managed service provider that focuses only on NOC, then it has the tools, expertise, and the processes to deliver what you need. It’s the only thing they do, and that’s a big plus for you. Their alerts, their response times, and proactive support that they have in place to serve you all mean reductions in downtime when issues do arise.
3. Improved Security and Compliance
Engaging an experienced NOC as a service provider means that all the security liabilities become their primary concern. That’s a good thing, they already have the talent, tools and technologies to maintain the highest security standards. You, on the other hand, will not have to continuously allocate time and resources to day-to-day security ‘housekeeping’, and re-assign your staff to more important matters.
The same goes for ensuring compliance with the ever-changing regulations in terms of customer data privacy and storage rules. You won’t need to invest in staff training and infrastructure changes to tick all the regulatory boxes.
4. Higher SLA Levels and Less Downtime
Network monitoring is a complex, multi-facet process that often has plenty of uncharted loops. For businesses, this means that their attention constantly must be spanned across various ends. Otherwise, they risk missing a major issue, resulting in costly downtime and breaches service levels.
When you choose to outsource network infrastructure monitoring you gain several advantages at once:
- Scalable access to resources
- On-demand access to an expert team with NOC skill sets, who can automate and orchestrate your NOC setup.
- Round-the-clock support, ensuring that your operations are smooth at any time.
How to Get Started with Outsourcing NOC Services
One of the biggest concerns as businesses consider NOC outsourcing is a certain loss of control. This is a natural reaction, especially when proprietary infrastructure is in place that must be securely protected. And you are turning over a key business function to an “outsider.”
Obviously, your key task will be finding the right outsourced NOC provider who can meet all of your current and projected future needs. You will need to contact several and interview them. When assessing a potential managed services provider, ensure that they:
- Use the latest RMM tools for NOC services delivery. Ensure that those integrate with your proprietory Professional Services Automation (PSA) platform.
- Provide regular reports (including in real-time).
- Possess relevant certifications and regularly host upskilling programs for employees.
- Have robust security practices in place.
- Have high SLA levels.
Speaking of the latter…
Get a Service Level Agreement Early On
You need to have some key discussions among your IT staff related to the types of NOC services that will be most critical, the response times you need, and all of the specific services that an outsourced NOC provider must promise. When you get a solid SLA, the expectations are spelled out upfront, and there will be little “wiggle room” down the road. This serves to mitigate any potential issues that could arise.
Level of Control
This can all be negotiated, of course. How much control do you want to give your NOC provider and how much information do you want to receive as issues are identified and resolved? An experienced and professional provider will be flexible and offer an array of shared responsibility options, according to what you want. You have desired levels of involvement – make sure these are honored. And as you scale, and as your level of trust in your NOC provider grows, these things may easily be re-negotiated.
Consider Your Options
NOC and NOCaaS are great options for businesses that have limited in-house IT resources and need those resources for business functions and growth. And just like many other services are now being outsourced, it makes sense to look seriously at outsourcing NOC too. If you find the right provider, you can determine the level and control you want and develop a partnership that will relieve your internal IT staff of a function that can be both time-consuming and stressful.