Is humanised NOC Inevitable? Five cases where human interaction perfects NOC automation.

In today’s cloud-based economy, businesses and startups are producing apps in impressive speed. Unfortunately, while most companies design the apps or software with the appropriate infrastructure, many do not realise that deploying apps is only half the battle. More important to the success of the product delivery is the ongoing monitoring, remediation, and infrastructure management, often lacking in the service that most cloud companies offer. Even the ones that do use monitoring services, the limited range of services proves to be inadequate to meet the needs of today’s businesses.

For most companies operating in the cloud, Network Operations Centres (NOC) are used to monitor and control occurrences of the delivered platform. Generally, the Operations Centre is the operational hub or main location, from which all other operations stem.

To date, every Operations Centre requires sophisticated machinery and is limited in their automated functions. In other words, machines cannot run on autopilot, they require the complex problem solving knowledge of a human for ongoing support. Human input for NOC operations bridges the complex data transfer and meta information of a network with the flexibility and real-time intelligence required to assess and respond to technical glitches or errors.

While technology offers the capability of streamlining efficiency, it cannot replace the human instinct and intelligence, despite every effort to increase automation by reducing human involvement, the level of agility necessary to resolve all potential system errors, still requires human interaction. In fact, it is the human aptitude that enables the holistic approach to technology cultivating the optimal environment to learn specific behaviour patterns of a system and then apply the trends to reduce and solve future problems.

For the sake of clarification, network monitoring is the basic, more surface level review of the network activities. Uptime management , however, is the ongoing, review and evaluation of the data to address and respond to the errors in a strategic manner, with the ultimate goal of optimising the functionality of the service. Most companies rely on the network monitoring style and lose the valuable data that may offer insights and crucial information necessary to responding to future issues.

To solve this passive style of monitoring, on-demand NOC services provide the added value of transforming the more passive network monitoring style into a hands-on, continuous, solution focused monitoring approach. Collecting the data is only valuable if the company is willing to invest in human capital to identify, review and resolve the data trends.

Here are 5 cases to better portray the importance of the human component in on-demand NOC monitoring. The cases will also highlight how human interactions compliments, rather than detract, from complete automation of NOC tools.

Five Cases of Human/Automation

1. Auto-Scaling in the Cloud
The most basic example of where human interaction is necessary is cloud performance that is automated by a scheduler. While the scheduler automatically scales the networks resources at peak times, monitoring the scheduler, at all times, requires human involvement. For example, there are a variety of ways to modify the scheduler to account for increasing or decreasing traffic patterns.

Applying these methodologies, however, require ongoing changes and evaluation at the application and business levels that can only be executed by real-time monitoring. Granted, some preemptive solutions can be front ended in the event of expected increase of traffic. Even with expected spikes in traffic patterns, the changes require management that are in line with user demand. Otherwise, the business is liable to suffer unnecessary financial consequences.

Building a comprehensive NOC team can modify a system to provide both synchronised front-end with back-end performance, while managing all levels of traffic. Essentially, this human involvement protects the SaaS user from experiencing unwanted downtime or performance disruptions.

2. On-Demand Monitoring and Application Updates
Every cloud-based application is hypersensitive to major upgrades. NOC’s can serve a secondary function as a monitoring service to detect possible problematic areas. Searching for the most appropriate monitoring solution may be unrealistic; using the NOC can be an efficient means to preserving the system prior to implementing any additional monitoring or automation procedures. Again, a flexible NOC team, offers a faster time-to-market solution and maintains customer satisfaction.

3. Behavioural Learning as a Predictor for Future Errors
The ideal NOC team is constantly observing, learning and measuring system behaviours. By studying the regular patterns of behaviour, the team will sense and, often, foresee possible problematic scenarios. A keen sense of understanding these trends, enables the NOC team to take the necessary actions to avoid or quickly resolve situations of disruption. By identifying and familiarising themselves with the system’s behaviour, the NOC team can intelligently assess the risk levels and determine which issues require concrete engagement.

4. Cross-Platform Monitoring and Holistic Approach
The multi-dimensional capabilities of the NOC offer a broader, overarching analysis of the entire system. With this information, critical decisions can be approached in a proactive manner rather than a temporary, reactive response which often results in compounded difficulties down the line.

As an example, graphs can depict a reduction in site searches and an increase in errors, normally this would be attributed to a component being down. With NOC analysis, the team is able to analyse various parameters over time. By observing dependencies between various components of the cross-platform NOC, the team is able to address the issue at hand, to target the cause as well as to solve the problem with a relevant longer-lasting and appropriate solution.

5. Documenting Repeating Events
With the information garnered and recorded from various events and errors, the NOC team is properly equipped with material to build structured operations reports. These reports offer the valuable baseline of information to identify problems and generate relevant solutions. The documentation can also be used to avoid future situations. Outcomes should be based on predefined protocols to avoid recurring events without adding unnecessary strain on the development team to produce another automated action.

These are only five of the many possible scenarios that require human interaction in NOC operations. The optimal, continuous performance of such a sophisticated system is only viable with the ongoing critical thinking of the human potential. To date, humans are still critical in today’s technologically advanced world to strengthen our modern IT world.

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