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Network Operation Center Best Practices

Top 10 Network Operation Center Best Practices

In this free ebook you'll find tips
and best practices related to:
5 Essential tools NOC must have:
1. How to develop and maintain team knowledge and skills
2. Training new NOC Team
3. Improving communication and collaboration within and outside the NOC
4. Escalating, prioritizing, and handling problems

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Network Operation Center Best Practices

  1. 1. Network Operations CenterBest PracticesBy Gabby Nizri April 2012 Edition© 2012 Ayehu Software Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. Table of ContentsIntroduction 15 essential NOC tools 4Knowledge and skills 9Clearly defined roles 10NOC employee training 13Communication & collaboration 15Escalation processes 18Prioritization 19Incident handling 20 Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 2
  3. 3. IntroductionNetwork Operation Centers (NOCs) are always under a great pressureto meet both technical and business services demands. In the pastseveral years NOCs have become a more crucial part of theorganization, taking on more tasks and responsibilities.In NOCs, technological challenges arrive at unexpected times, andunforeseen problems always pop up. In fact, the only part you cancount on is shrinking resources.So what’s the best you can do? Make sure you’re employing the bestpractices, using the most appropriate tools, and optimizing yourprocesses and knowledge.This is what this e-book is all about. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 3
  4. 4. Part 1: ToolsYou know tools are an essential elementin NOC management. But they are also akey element for improvement. So whatare the tools that will give you the topreturn of investment? How do you keepyour team aligned with the most updatedinformation? And how can tools help yourteam gain control over all tasks, whilepositioning the NOC as an exclusive ITresource? Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 4
  5. 5. Ticketing system Tools5 essential toolsTicketing systemA ticketing system will enable you to keep track of all open issues,according to severity, urgency and the person assigned to handle eachtask. Knowing all pending issues will help you to prioritize the shift’stasks and provide the best service to your customers.Knowledge baseKeep one centralized source for all knowledge and documentation thatis accessible to your entire team. This knowledge base should be afluid information source, so make sure you continuously update it withexperiences and lessons learned for future reference andimprovements. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 5
  6. 6. Reporting ToolsReporting and measurementsCreate reports on a daily and monthlybasis. A daily report should include allmajor incidents of the past 24 hours anda root cause for every resolved incident.This report is useful and essential for theshift leaders and NOC managers.It also keeps the rest of the IT departmentinformed about the NOC activities and ofmajor incidents. Compiling the dailyreports into a monthly report will helpmeasure the team’s progress. It will alsoshow areas where improvements can bemade or indicate any positive or negativetrends in performance. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 6
  7. 7. Monitoring ToolsMonitoringThere are two types of monitoring processes relevant to NOC:• Infrastructure monitoring, which can consist of the servers, the network or the data center environment.• User experience monitoring, which simulates user behavior and activities in order to replicate problems and find the most effective solutions.Implementing a service tree model that connects the infrastructuremonitoring with an affected service will allow your team to handleother areas that may be affected by the problems experienced. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 7
  8. 8. IT process automation ToolsIT Process AutomationIT Process Automation can save significanttime on repetitive, daily tasks, and frees uptime for more strategic projects.It empowers a Level-one team to deal withtasks that otherwise may require aLevel-two team. Some examples includepassword reset, disk space clean-up, restart services etc.IT Process Automation also helps reducing mean time to recovery(MTTR) in case of critical incidents. For example, specific workflowscan be triggered during off hours for handling critical system events. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 8
  9. 9. Part 2: Knowledge & skillsBy ‘knowledge and skills’ we don’t meanthe obvious technical knowledge andnetwork ‘know-how’ your team membersmust hold to run day-to-day operations,but rather –How you can ensure your team’s skillsare used to their best potential, and howto keep those skills up to date over time. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 9
  10. 10. Roles Knowledge & SkillsClearly defined rolesDefinition of roles may vary between data centers and willdepend on team size, the IT environment and tasks. Still, thereshould be a clear distinction between the roles andresponsibilities of operators vs. shift supervisors in the NOC.Why does it matter?Mostly because it affects decisions making. Without clearlydefined roles and responsibilities, disagreements betweenoperators lead to late decisions and actions, or to no decisionstaken at all. This can affect customers, critical business services,and urgent requests during off hours.It should be clearly defined, therefore, that a shift managermakes the final decisions. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 10
  11. 11. Tasks & responsibilities Knowledge & SkillsTasks & responsibilitiesAnother potential problem caused by the absence of a clear roledefinition is the division of tasks between operators and the shift leader.A shift manager should be responsible for: prioritizing tasks, assigningwork to operators based on their skills, verifying that tickets are openedproperly and that relevant personnel are notified when required,escalating problems, communicating with management duringimportant NOC events, sending notifications to the entire organization,preparing reports, and making critical decisions that impact manyservices, such as shutting down the data center in case of anemergency. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 11
  12. 12. Tasks & responsibilities Knowledge & SkillsOperators, on the other hand, should beresponsible for handling the technicalaspect of incidents – either independentlyor by escalating to another team memberwith the required skills. Operators are alsoresponsible for following up and keepingtickets up to date.While it might sound as if operators lack independence andresponsibility, this is not the case. When faced with technicalchallenges, operators’ input and skills are probably the most criticalfor resolution and smooth NOC operation. Operators provideadditional insights into problems, and can provide creative solutionswhen the standard procedures fail to work. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 12
  13. 13. NOC Training Knowledge & SkillsNOC employee trainingHow often have you started a new job, without receiving anyorientation, mentoring or guided training?A new NOC operator may not know where to find a procedure orhow to execute it, or in a more severe case - take a decision thatcauses equipment damage or results in critical downtime.Make sure to put in place an extensive training program for newNOC employees. Ideally, such a program would consist of oneweek of classroom training followed by three weeks of hands-ontraining under the supervision of a designated trainer. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 13
  14. 14. NOC Training Knowledge & SkillsMake sure experienced NOC members, preferably shift leaders, trainnew employees. Release trainers from all other duties to ensure thatthe training does not gradually fade between all the urgent tasks.Update the training program on an ongoing basis, and make sure itincludes topics such as required users and permissions, knownproblems, troubleshooting, teams and important contacts. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 14
  15. 15. Communication Knowledge & SkillsCommunication &CollaborationA good communication flow between NOC members and otherIT teams has many advantages. It propels professional growth,provides opportunities for advancement in the organization, andmakes it easier to approach other teams when requiringassistance. But most importantly – it allows NOC personnel tosee the larger picture. NOC members that are aware of projects,services and customers’ needs, simply provide better service.How can you improve communication? Here are a few ideas:• Make sure a member of the NOC attends weekly change management meetings and communicate issues or upcoming activities, such as planned downtime, to the rest of the team. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 15
  16. 16. Communication Knowledge & Skills• Define NOC members as focal points for important IT areas, such as NT, UNIX, Network, or a specific project. These members attend the meetings of the relevant teams, deliver new information and knowledge to the rest of the NOC, and handle specific professional challenges.• Encourage and promote collaboration between NOC team members. When your team members are willing to help each other, information is shared more easily, and problems are resolved more quickly and efficiently. If the NOC team is geographically spread out or is located in different countries, you should spend even more efforts on communication and collaboration, to overcome cultural and language barriers. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 16
  17. 17. Part 3: ProcessesWhat are the operational, structuredprocesses that you should implementfor effective and repeatable results?Here are our top ones. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 17
  18. 18. Escalation ProcessesEscalationYou want to establish a clear cut escalation process. One method is anescalation table, which outlines the protocol, channels for escalatingissues and contact personnel with the appropriate expertise.For example, see the table below defining the escalation procedures forDB related problems. Time Frame Escalate To Method 0+15 min DB on call SMS 0+30 min DB on call Phone 0+60 min DB Group Leader Phone UNIX & DB Project 0+90 min SMS Manager 0+120 min UNIX & DB Director SMS Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 18
  19. 19. Prioritization ProcessesPrioritizationThe process of prioritizing incidents is different in each NOC, andtherefore should be clearly defined. Incidents should never be handledon a first come, first served basis. Instead, the shift manager shouldprioritize incidents and cases based on the importance and impact onthe business.The entire team should be familiar with the NOC “Top 10” projects, andhave an understanding of what signifies a critical incident – whether it isthe temperature rising in the data center, a major network cablebreaking, service ‘x’ going down, or anything else. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 19
  20. 20. Incident handling ProcessesIncident HandlingBoth NOC operators and shift managers should be familiar with thespecific process of handling incidents.The incident handling process should cover issues such as:• Full technical solution, if available.• Escalation to appropriate personnel.• Notification of other users who may be directly or indirectly affected.• ‘Quick solution’ procedures or temporary workarounds for complex problems that may take longer to be resolved.• Incident reporting. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 20
  21. 21. ConclusionEmploying the proper tools, skills and processes inyour NOC will allow you to run more efficient networkoperations and ensure smooth day to day operations.The purpose of these NOC best practices is not only toenable smooth ongoing operations. It is also toadvance your team with a better understandingbusiness needs, the IT department and the customers;it is to encourage progress and growth among teammembers; and most important, it is to make a healthyand supporting work environment that will enableproviding superior service. Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 21
  22. 22. Learn more about AyehueyeShare for NOC Tweet This Guide Share on facebook Share on LinkedIn 22