Network Operations Centers in VS .NET

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Network operations centers vary from company to company, but they generally include:
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Carrier Facilities: Getting Physical
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The telephone help desk Technical escalation (staff members who actually do troubleshooting and provisioning) Network health monitoring, capacity planning, and network engineering This function often is outside the NOC proper but available to it for advanced support
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Operations staff can do rather little in isolation They need flexible, comfortable, efficient voice and data communications
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Room Layout
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There are mixed opinions on whether or not wall-sized status displays are really helpful to operations I worked with one quite competent carrier who freely admitted that its main displays were intended primarily to impress VIP visitors, and that the Star Fleet Technical Manual had indeed been used as the design guide Multiple monitors at individual technicians workstations were the day-to-day tools While it can be debated whether wall-sized displays of network topology are really that useful, several ISPs have found wall-mounted displays of open problems, color-coded for criticality and duration, to be quite helpful in managing problems
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Communications for Your People
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Having more than one screen at an operations workstation or at the very least a large screen monitor with excellent multiple-window capability is quite important It is quite common, for example, to want to be able to go back and forth among a trouble ticket, a router or other device configuration, an error log, and perhaps some topology displays Another reason why you may want multiple monitors is that the equipment controlled may have mixed interfaces asynchronous terminal interfaces for router consoles, UNIX workstations for operations support equipment, and Microsoft workstations for administrative systems (For the record, this book is being written on my Macintosh G4)
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DISPLAYS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO HAVE The aforementioned Star Fleet Technical Manual shows details of the set that are too fine to be seen on television, but do amuse the cast and crew You may remember that the medical bed on Star Trek: The Next Generation has a set of bar graphs over the head of the bed, but the legends are not quite readable on a television set The bottom bar actually is labeled Medical Insurance Remaining I leave it as an exercise for the reader to consider what you would really like to measure in your network or your upper management
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Not necessarily at each operator position, but certainly well visible in the network operations centers, should be at least one or two television sets tuned to CNN and a local news station These can give you excellent information on large-scale disasters that might be affecting your network Weather-band radios with automatic alarms also are appropriate You will need to think carefully about telephone services, especially if your services involve international connectivity North American 800 numbers frequently cannot be dialed from other countries; a toll number should be available in appropriate intercarrier documentation and in such places as routing registries If you have a PBX, consider what happens if it breaks or if the local telephone company has a problem It makes extremely good sense to have at least some cellular phones in the NOC as backup Anyone who gives telephone support needs hands-free capability, which is usually more practical with a headset than a speakerphone It can be useful, however, to have a small conference room adjacent to the NOC, equipped with good-quality speakerphones, when several people need to collaborate on resolving a problem Wireless headsets, while more expensive, tend to be less fatiguing and indeed may pay for themselves after a few occasions where a corded set pulls expensive equipment crashing to the floor Be aware of the fact that they broadcast: Eavesdropping on wireless headsets is becoming a popular form of industrial espionage, and can be done from a surprising distance There is a good deal of opinion, although no real consensus, about non-voice but near-real-time communications for the operations staff A good e-mail system is essential Pay a great deal of attention, with consulting as needed, to the human factors of operator workstations: appropriately ergonomic furniture, lighting that does not glare off screens, and so on Fatigued people make more mistakes While I tend to agree that beverages have little place in equipment rooms, having coffee, tea, and soft drinks available to the staff in the network operations center (perhaps with cup/can holders built into the work areas) helps morale and concentration Require beverages to be in covered containers (no open cups of coffee or glasses of water)
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