The Winning Move: From NOC to SOC

Are you making the move to a Service Operation Center? You might be – and not even realize it yet.

Why move from a NOC to a SOC?

Well here’s the story.

I, like many folks who get their start in telecoms, used to take a low end role in the Network Operations Center. People like me, we learn the technologies that our business depends on and work our way up the ladder. Typically, while burning the midnight oil, we take it upon ourselves to find new ways to be more efficient at our job.

Back in the day, a light would come on, an annoying noise would go off, or you would get paged indicating that some piece of network equipment had a problem. Today, our networks have evolved to include a plethora of devices and applications working together to create services.

Geolocation, Video On Demand, WebRTC, Rich Communication Services, IMS application servers and multiple messaging platforms are just a few of the services taking over our networks. Multiservice offerings are bundled together to provide a great experience for the customer. A majority of these services are driven by user interaction, and moving an explosive amount of data onto the networks. This presents some new challenges in today’s environment.

Read: WebRTC: Knocking Down the Boundaries of the Web

In the past, if a circuit or hardware filled up, we just added more physical resources. That’s not so much the case anymore.

Today’s Complex Environment

There are so many devices, network components and different software-based services that are required for to ensure an end-to-end quality customer experience. To assure this level of customer experience, service providers need to take a proactive approach based on business intelligence derived from their networks. These tools need to be able to collect, extrapolate and correlate the key data. This data will guide cross organizational teams into being more productive, by arming them with the right data about their customers’ experience.

In other words, because so many components comprise the service, we are no longer NOC-centric, we are SOC folks now (Service Operation Center).

Making the NOC to SOC Move

Most migrations are well underway, but for those who aren’t already migrating, you may be on the path but just not realize it yet. If you sharpen your pencil and write down the answers to the following questions, you will be well on your way to creating your SOC path:

  • What are my key business objectives?
  • What metrics can be used to measure my objectives?
  • Where in the service path is the data most critical to the success of my service?
  • How is my data valid?
  • What is the migration path I would take from a technical trial through a commercial launch?

The challenge with creating a SOC is mostly cultural. If you can reduce the impact to your services by measuring the performance of your applications and satisfaction of your customers, then you have already cleared the highest hurdle.

Say so long to unmanageable data stores, because a SOC will aggregate and centralize the service data from multiple sources into a single platform. This also creates a company-wide data resource, making the organization even more productive.

A new breed of engineer is putting together tomorrow’s vision of a Service Operation Center. They are creating environments that are efficient, reducing service issues more quickly, and driving the overall business by making decisions based on data. They are the folks that are having the biggest impact on reducing operational expenditures, reducing churn and driving productivity for the entire business. They’re the ones with all the right moves.

Are you moving from a NOC to a SOC? Let me know your thoughts on the subject in the comments below.

Read more about the relevance of the NOC to SOC move in NOC to SOC: A Next-Gen Approach to Understanding and Assuring Customer Experience.

Written by Jason Miller – Jason on Twitter | Posts by Jason
Jason is Empirix’s expert on predictive analytics, big data, and cutting edge technologies like WebRTC and VoLTE. He has lived on both the customer and the vendor side of things so he has a unique perspective of the market. In his free time he also coaches Little League.

photo credit: karpidis via photopin cc

6 thoughts on “The Winning Move: From NOC to SOC

  1. Robert Hubbard says:

    Nice article Jason. In my experience, a SOC is a Security Operations Center which is a subset of the NOC. The bi-directional data paths of the NOC and SOC ensure triggers, traps and alerts are directed to the appropriate screens for pro-active enterprise management. Your description of a SOC (Service Operations Center) as I would describe it is more related to an ITIL model of Service Support and Service Delivery. On the Service Support side, what are the systems and applications that are needed to meet the requirement to provide appropriate services needed for the customer. On the Service Delivery side, am I delivering the tools, products and services that meet the needs of my customers in a manner that ensures these services are available to my customers. Having several patents pending in predicting human behavior for mobile advertising, I think you are providing a useful framework for Service Delivery with your SOC model.

  2. Jason Miller says:

    Robert, Thank you for the awesome comments and questions. In this example, a Service Operation Center is aligned primarily with a Communication Service Provider, i.e., Telephone Company. Traditionally, customers of the phone company had a phone and a circuit, and when something went wrong a buzzing light would alert a repair man who would find out the problem in the circuit. I’m dating myself, but some people even shared the circuit (otherwise known as a party line). However, when you look at today’s telecommunication providers, you have lots of different services you can subscribe to. Each one of these services may be delivered in a different fashion, depending on many different types of variables. A good example might be a Collaborative Voice/Video Chat. As a subscriber, this enables the services on several devices. The subscriber may open it up to his friends, who are on another set of different devices. Depending on which devices they are using, the quality could be optimized or prioritized to deliver the best customer experience. All of that changes when the service isn’t provided by a traditional communications service provider, because then you have different access mechanisms like home Wi-Fi from CSP1 and wireless service from CSP2. On each of these different mechanisms, data is created before the Collaborative Voice/Video Chat session has started. In other words, you have all these devices, with different capabilities, each accessing the service in a different way. As a service provider, I want to ensure that each person participating in that Collaborative Voice/Video chat has the best experience ever. So your assertion is correct, and the Empirix SOC model considers service delivery one of the key measurements behind a successful customer experience. That’s why we care so much about ensuring that the collected data is valid. Without that, it would be difficult to get into system dimensioning and application requirements, as these would largerly be driven by traffic models and organization skillsets. At the very least, you would need some very robust components from the Empirix Service Architecture. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. If you want to continue the conversation via email or phone, let me know.

    1. Peter says:

      I would agree with Robert’s note – SOC is already a well-established term in the industry and is limited to security-related functions. I don’t think it’s a good idea to confuse the issue by reusing the acronym in a services context. It may be fine for people who are already very familiar with standard NOC and SOC functions, but for novices who are seeing this services-related form of SOC usage, I think you’ll do a disservice, leaving them thinking they know what a SOC is when they really won’t. The services review is important though also, so I’d encourage you to just use a new term to communicate this key concept.

      1. Jason Miller says:

        “Robert & Peter you both raise a good point. Your suggestion becomes more relevant as Service Providers and Information Technology groups within organizations start to merge (SPIT). Thanks for pointing out the potential confusion, and rest assured that we will definitely be discussing this further.“

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