Key Challenges that Global Network Operations Center Face
Global Network Operations Center: An Overview
Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) is a central site where multiple networks are being monitored and managed by technicians and IT-professionals to maintain network performance across different channels. It is the same as a Network Operations Center (NOC) but GNOC operates in a relatively tremendous scale. Big companies with equally great networks (e.g. internet and telecommunication service provider) have a network operation center, typically in a room with visualization of network performance and status, as well as network and software troubleshooting & distribution.
GNOC follows the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Incident and Problem Management (IPM) to ensure that IT services are aligned with end-users. AT&T for example, an American network service provider, has a Global Network Operations Center in New Jersey which serves as a command-and-control center where data and voice traffic of the network is being supervised 24/7.
Functions of a Network Operations Center
GNOC goes beyond network monitoring and maintenance. Round the clock management of hundreds of thousands of networks is its core function. Similarly, GNOC is also responsible for:
- 24/7 monitoring of networks according to the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and identifying the root cause of any major problem that may occur. Monitoring comes in 2 levels:
Infrastructure monitoring which focuses on the servers and data centers
User experience monitoring which focuses on the activities of a user and used to determine the problem and find ways to resolve it.
- Ensuring that all networks remain seamless, servers aren’t overwhelmed, and its services to people end-users remain uninterrupted
- Analyze the network and how every system operates primarily since they are exposed to a considerably large volume of anomalous activities
- Monitor the status of the network including power failures, circuit downfalls, interference, uptime and downtime of a site, low/high RSSI, etc.
- Router updates and configuration of switches
- Manage operational risks and provide accurate response to end-users’ demands
- Identify complication/s of the network or site and execute troubleshooting to resolve issue
- Aside from the aforementioned, GNOC also takes action when incongruity transpires:
GNOC not only monitors the performance and operations of a network, but also activities that goes on in the system, especially dubious actions, because any network can be a target of threats or attacks. It also understands the network’s assets, operations, and procedures including its volume, flow, and risks to determine setbacks in the network as well as distinguishing peculiar activities. Moreover, GNOC recognizes and perceives irregularities and corruption a network can be susceptible to or can take place.
Manifestation of anomalies in a network is inevitable and sometimes come in different shape and form that can be pretty arduous to put a finger on. But GNOC is capable of identifying and tracking any activities that is deemed absurd and perform necessary diagnosis and investigation to determine whether activities can be presumed as threat of attack or an actual attack.
Once the anomaly GNOC detected is confirmed to be a threat of attack or an actual attack, the imminent companies that may be affected will be notified in order to foresee repercussions that will surface as well as the damages it will cost. GNOC will then strategize how to mitigate the attack depending on the severity of it and action deemed imperative to eliminate the threat. Both the GNOC and the company will concede a strategy that will subsequently be implemented and used as reference to avert any incursion that may emanate in the course of time.
Key Challenges in Global Network Operations
- Hefty Cost of GNOC
Since GNOC operates 24 hours a day, its day-to-day maintenance can get excessive, as well the number of unrecognized and unresolved issues which can be an addition to an already extravagant expense. Owning, managing, and maintaining a GNOC requires a great amount of investment both time and financial. And while GNOC is ideal to every company, not all have the necessary resources
- Monitoring Networks can be Overwhelming
GNOC functions in a global scale which can get staggering since a considerably large amount of data flows into a network every single day. In 2003, AT&T have experienced sudden upsurge in network traffic when a Northeast blackout hit 8 states of the USA, affecting $45 million people. This certain events gives technician a hard time in balancing the load while preventing disturbance of network service. Apart from that, they have to understand each of the company’s network and technical operations to be able to easily detect and resolve any issues. Also, they are catering to conglomerate of networks, and attend to specific routers and WAN connectivity. Finally, it is difficult to prioritize which issues to attend to first and strategy to be used to resolve them. GNOC only have limited time to diagnose and address the problems because time converts to money; and the more time they spend on fixing the issue, the more money a company is losing. Stakes are high if issues aren’t resolved following the time frame and significant information as well as data security and integrity is put at high risk.
- Remote Data Centers
Network management and monitoring that are remotely controlled poses a great problem in cases of interruption of network service. Some network operations center are located from different parts of the globe or from another location and when a problem occurs and the necessary equipments are in another operations center, not only does it waste time, but the money to be spent in travelling from one location to another. Not to mention, network operations remain disrupted until the proper equipments needed to resolve the issues are in place. The time supposed to be spent in addressing the issues are spent in transferring important equipments to another location through a cart because NOC equipments are not small in scale. Besides moving the equipments, cables have to be moved which relatively takes longer time. These lead to unidentified and neglected issues because the time allotted for it is being spent in moving equipments.
Overcoming NOC Challenges
Obstacles NOC faces are great in number but are slowly dwindling because of the continuous development of technology. NOC may be expensive but it’s worth the investment as long as it is managed in an effective and cost-efficient way. And in order to maximize your network operations center, one must know the process, management procedure, and the work flow an NOC needs.
Implementation of Recovery Strategies
Location of the data center is also important not just for security purposes, as well as recovery strategies once mishap affects the operations. Highly-trained IT professionals must also be employed in order to cope up with the overwhelming work surrounding an NOC as well as extensive knowledge in threats and anomalous activities any network can be susceptible to.
Finally, to save time managing and controlling data center, even from remote location, NOCs must incorporate modern technologies and do upgrades such as multi-port technologies, monitoring switches and analytical tools so any problem that may surface can be identified, diagnosed, and fixed through a desktop screen, or even a mobile device.
Global Network Operations Center can be of great help and can serve a valuable purpose but only if its potentials are fully maximized. It requires a lot time, work, and money but it is the most dynamic and cost-effective way of controlling, as well as protecting networks.