Jun 16, 2022

How to build a NOC or SOC that analysts will love

NETWORKING 5 min read

Trained Network Operations Center (NOC) or Security Operations Center (SOC) analysts are much sought after today. One thing that NOC and SOC organizations can do to attract and retain motivated employees is to offer analysts a comfortable working environment in which they can thrive and work in physically and mentally healthy conditions. So, how do you do create a NOC or SOC environment that analysts will love? Here are a few ideas.

#1 Help analysts cope with information overload

NOCs and SOCs are essential for the continuity and security of a business. The impact of downtime can be huge and therefore the pressure on your control room staff is high. Since there is so much variety in different industries, it’s difficult to calculate the cost of downtime, but a few years ago, Gartner attempted to do the math and came up with an average of $5,600 per minute, which extrapolates to well over $300K per hour.

network operations center security operations center worker in stress

With so many network and security applications to be monitored, it’s almost astonishing that analysts can keep a cool head. There is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), intrusion detection, user and entity behavior analytics, and a growing list of other analytics tools.

Sometimes, operators are overwhelmed by the number of screens alone. In 2021, 1&1 Versatel, a B2B provider for fiber gigabit connections and network-related services, approached Barco to help them redesign their entire control room. Before Barco came in, some of the analysts were looking at no less than 20 screens in order to monitor some 40 management systems.

Fortunately, there is a better way. Today, the idea is no longer to put more data or more context in front of the operator to make the job easier. Instead, modern operator workspaces aim at putting only the right data in front of the analyst and allow them to better control their view with less stress. With a solution like Barco’s OpSpace, analysts can do exactly that. OpSpace allows them to have all applications on a single integrated workspace, and call them into view with a minimum of navigation time.

#2 Facilitate collaboration across facilities

Whether they are working at an in-house NOC or SOC, or for a third-party Managed Service Provider (MSP), the job of an analyst has become more and more centered around collaboration. Today, analysts are no longer chained to their workspace or single area of expertise. They also require problem-solving skills and need to be creative and collaborative.

Today’s NOCs and SOCs increasingly need to be able to work with content collaboratively and remotely:

  • NOC and SOC teams need to share resources and collaborate to ensure business continuity and security.
  • MSP teams need to collaborate with their clients’ IT teams to speed up problem solving.
  • During incidents, analysts in the main control room need to be able to share content securely to a breakout room.
  • NOCs and SOCs need to be able to smoothly transition their operations to a backup center in case of crisis.

Barco enables NOCs and SOCs to present their content wherever they need it across their organization, from control room to a breakout room, or with remote stakeholders. Features like the ‘Follow me’ function in Barco’s OpSpace allow analysts to load their personal workspace and presets on any connected workstation without having to adjust settings.

#3 Make home office possible
Especially younger generations of analysts have growing expectations about the possibility of regularly working from home or remotely.

During the pandemic, control rooms in general were obliged to make home office arrangements. Now that we may have seen the worst of the pandemic, home office has become an established right. Especially younger generations of analysts have growing expectations about the possibility of regularly working from home or remotely. NOCs and SOCs too see the benefits of granting home office to their employees, among which are productivity, cost efficiency, and flexible desk space allocation.

All of this can only become reality on one important condition: working from home needs to be secure. Visualization and collaboration technology for NOCs and SOCs therefore needs to have security built in on every level. Analysts and decision-makers need easy network access from home to video, images and data. They need to be able to connect to various systems easily, configure how and where they are displayed, and collaborate efficiently. At the same time, this flexibility cannot come at the cost of security.

With a solution like Barco’s SecureStream, NOC and SOC operators can share content from the control room to external stakeholders, including home office workers, in a secure way. By simply dragging and dropping video or data sources into a channel that can be pushed beyond the control room facility, home office workers can also view critical content (and even send back relevant content), all the while meeting the high security standards that are required in a NOC or SOC.

#4 Enjoy a pleasant, noise-free work area

With so many applications that need to be monitored, it’s not a good idea to have all system hardware close to the operator desk. Nobody likes to work in a noisy and hot environment, caused by humming, heat-generating servers and storage devices.

Fortunately, today’s workstations can be virtualized and hosted in an external data center or in a server room away from the operator’s desk. This contributes to an operator-friendly environment, where there is less equipment at the workspace cluttering the desk, generating heat and noise, and taking up floor space.

#5 Allow for comfortable growth

With a network and security technology landscape that is changing so fast, it’s not unthinkable that NOCs and SOCs will need to adapt and scale their workflows in the future. Just think of the impact that the introduction of 5G networks will have on workflows. Changes like these should be possible to carry out with the least discomfort to existing workflows.

control room it introducing technology in network operations center or security operations center

Introducing new technologies and applications often forces a transition from one system to another. Networked visualization solutions, like Barco’s Transform N CMS make this transition much easier and enable operators to work with different systems at the same time. By adding a visual layer on top of the control system, operators do not interact with the system data itself, but with the visual representation layer (user interface) on top of it, making it easier for them to work with different data types and systems. Also, with OpSpace, Barco’s operator workspace, it is easy to expand the number of content sources and to route sources and layouts across the entire enterprise, wherever analyst seats need to be added.

More comfort for NOC/SOC analysts

NOC and SOC analysts have a highly demanding job, and therefore they deserve an ergonomic and comfortable workplace. Barco has the technology to reduce operator stress levels and to make the life and workflows of the NOC and SOC analyst much more comfortable.

Want to know more? Then discover our solutions for NOCs and SOCs or get in touch with a Barco expert.

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