A command and control center - also called a network operations center (NOC) - is a vital part of any company that maintains reliable service. This is especially true if the company operates 24/7/365 or covers a geographic area more than 70 miles in diameter. It is in the command control center that important decisions are made in real-time regarding the infrastructure management, status and performance of the equipment that keeps your customers happy and the money flowing.
These decisions help protect your equipment and provide reliable service to your customers. Today's customers are expecting ever shorter response times to incidents. Today's operations are requiring the command center to play a larger role in facility access and security.
In terms of remote site monitoring, a tetwork operations center forms a central location for a data center of any medium or large-scale network monitoring effort. In it, your NOC engineers will monitor for and respond to network problems. Your NOC services form the vital link between the detection of a network problem and the implementation of a solution (usually in the form of a technician dispatched to the remote site).
Your command and control server center set up will depend on your scenario. So, predictably, building a network operations center varies widely in cost. A basic command center in an existing facility with a single command and control system console monitoring a dozen or so pieces of equipment that are already connected to some kind of communication backbone can be built for well under $20K.
A center with dozens of command and control tools to monitor and manage hundreds of equipment pieces in a new data center with some communication infrastructure improvements required can approach $1M or more. The easiest way to narrow in on how much you need to pay is to work with multiple companies that offer NOC services to develop your plan.
If a company doesn't have a low-end solution for their infrastructure management services, you can pretty much bet that your application will be more advanced than you expected and need a much more 'powerful' tool than you imagined. If a company doesn't have a high-end solution, an initial low cost can mask a sizable upgrade down the road.
If your NOC doesn't have the right equipment, you can't even begin to do your job well. You need the most advanced monitoring gear to provide you with detailed alarm notifications.
Companies that quickly offer 'customization' solutions often have a product that is simply too complex for a typical NOC technician to install and configure themselves. In some cases, you might even be encouraged to think in terms of having multiple-month on-site support or training with the purchase of these kinds of command and control systems.
Good companies are able to offer you customization, but every one of their solutions shouldn't require expensive on-site programmers (the best companies offer free customization to make an off-the-shelf product a perfect-fit solution for you).
A big advantage of modular systems is that you don't buy more than you need. The danger of modular systems is that the core system functionality is so small that you can't seem to get anything done without an additional module. Every time you introduce a new piece of equipment or cross some threshold count or want to implement some new report, ka-ching... you need another module. Pretty soon the module cost becomes as much or more than the base cost and continues to grow as you do.
Equipment trap involves separate status interfaces for each class of equipment. When provisioning, you clearly need to be trained on multiple versions (including the always latest) of equipment. But day-to-day status network monitoring should not require training for every equipment class or new version you manage. Removing this unnecessary training can easily save in excess of $100K.
Make sure your interface offers you a war-room display right on your PC desktop, giving an immediate bird's-eye view of your entire network. It should use maps, icons, and photos to create a graphic display of your entire network. At the top-level view, you have an at-a-glance indication of the state of your entire territory; multi-layer graphics let you zoom down to the site, building, equipment rack, device, and alarm point to view specific alarm information.
Also, ensure that your interface screens feature Text Message windows that provide the user with additional information about each alarm. The Text Message window can display an explanation of the alarm or specific instructions for appropriate action. System operators, even without extra training, will know precisely what to do and who to call in case of an alarm.
For maximum visibility of your network, your NOC personnel must have access to all of the following capabilities.
Power failure monitoring
Root cause analysis
Problem alerts for your key personnel
Alarm monitoring is an integral component of your NOC. Without it, you won't know about problems in your network until it's too late, and by that time your customers have already lost service (and a good deal of patience with your service levels).A good alarm monitoring system provides staff in your NOC with all of the important info they need about problems throughout your network. NOC staff will be able to look at this alarm info in a variety of ways, enabling them to dispatch technicians to your various remote sites.
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