Like BTAS Connect, the Network Operations Centre (NOC) is one of the newer additions to BTAS’ portfolio. Opened in 2014, the NOC provides BTAS’ service team with a holistic view of clients’ network and infrastructure.
The key driver for establishing the NOC was to change the way BTAS does business. Up to that point, BTAS’ business core business was reactive, where a customer rings up with a fault and the support team would deal with it.
Although the traditional business continues to be a big part of what BTAS does, the NOC was put together in order to provide a proactive service to customers. In that way BTAS could provide additional value to customers by knowing things before they do.
To that end, BTAS invested in infrastructure to monitor customers’ network and infrastructure. Not only does the NOC monitor outside networks, it also has insights into BTAS’ own WAN and carriage used in BTAS Connect.
The importance of knowing
The NOC was originally designed for BTAS Snapshot, and over time it was extended to BTAS Optima and the company’s legacy business, such as telephony. More recently the NOC became able to monitor BTAS Connect.
The way the NOC works is that the staff manning it can see if there is an outage or something breaks. The alerts comes via email, text, or visually on screens to ensure the NOC staff are informed no matter what they are doing.
Although the NOC cannot predict outages or breakage, it can assist with forecasting and informing. If a customer rings BTAS to say their network has gone down, the NOC staff will know the nature of the issue and provide an estimated restore time.
Some clients may not even notice an issue until the NOC staff call to inform them about it. In addition to explaining the nature of the issue to the customer, the NOC staff can also find a solution to the issue.
Open for business
The NOC is open business hours from 8:30am to 5:00pm on Monday to Friday, though there are people on standby outside of business hours. Even though the NOC itself may be unmanned outside of regular hours, engineers are always on-hand to field customer calls.
BTAS also offers additional support should the customer need it. Dulux, Nestle, and Sydney Trains are some customers that have opted in for 24/7 support, while the University of Tasmania has extended support to 6:00pm.
Instead of keeping the NOC as an idea on paper, BTAS went ahead and built a fully functional NOC that was ready for customers. That meant BTAS Optima product demonstration could be in real time, as opposed to theoretical discussions.
The short term benefit of the NOC has been the ability for BTAS to showcase something tangible to customers. Over time, it has also helped reduced the number of calls coming in by customers and replaced them with calls going out to customers.
Security at the forefront
The NOC was designed with customer’s security and privacy in mind. The interior of the NOC is not visible from neighbouring rooms, and even some of the NOC staff do not have access to the room outside of work hours.
An encrypted connection is used between BTAS and customers, ensuring that all network monitoring is done securely and discreetly. The NOC’s functionality and data is not stored on-site at BTAS, but on a private Cloud powered by an external Tier 1 datacentre, ensuring the highest possible levels of uptime.
BTAS has Service Level Agreements (SLA) with customers that determine priorities and response times of the NOC. While the NOC does support customers that do not have contracts with BTAS, but they will get lesser SLAs, though some non-customers have chosen to pay for priority service.
Working in the background
Some companies may be worried about the NOC constantly finding issues with their current setup, but the reality is most of the problems will likely be dealt with the initial BTAS Snapshot. The NOC was designed to proactively manage sites with robust, and not poor, infrastructure.
For most customers, the NOC’s monitoring will be no different to that of a security guard patrolling. Most of the time the experience will be seamless and in the background, but it will react to and investigate an issue.
Monthly reports are generated by the NOC for the customers, outlining what happened in the four weeks and where the infrastructure is headed for the future. For legacy customers, reports outline what the NOC did for them in the month and what may happen in the next one.
An ongoing commitment
For BTAS as a company, the transition from a reactive to a proactive approach has been a relatively easy one. Most of the NOC staff joined the company soon after the facility itself was established, so they were not set in a reactive mindset.
The NOC has allowed BTAS as company to go from a break-fix reactive service model to proactive management of infrastructure. It has also provided BTAS with the ability to forecast capacity and plan for it with the click of a mouse button.
Sales staff and engineers also see value in knowing something about a customer’s network before they do. They are now able to act on a warning as opposed to a failure, as well as suggest further improvements using all of the information gathered by the NOC.
Even with all of the investment made so far, the NOC is expected to continue expanding with technology and staff, particularly with the addition of BTAS Connect to its monitoring. Sales training and management support is ongoing, ensuring the NOC is here to stay to provide better insight into customers’ networks.
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