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What is a network operations center (NOC)? | #itsecurity | #infosec | #hacking | #aihp

NOC (pronounced “knock,”) stands for a network operations center, and if the term conjures up images of a NASA-like control room, you would not be too far off from reality – at least at some organizations.

While the role of a NOC can vary, the general idea is to create a room or centralized facility where information technology (IT) professionals can constantly monitor, maintain and troubleshoot all aspects of a network. The NOC must also be equipped with all of the technology required in order to support those operations, including monitors, computers, telecommunications equipment and a fast connection to network resources.

NOCs were created for two main reasons. The first was to give IT staffers a central location to work from, instead of having them run around trying to fix problems or perform preventative maintenance, like patching systems, from different locations.

The second, and probably more critical reason, was to allow the constant monitoring of a network. While not all NOCs are directly involved in security operations (those duties are sometimes offloaded to a SOC, or Security Operations Center), those working in a NOC are often the first to get an indication that something is wrong with the network, whether that is because of a security issue, a hardware failure or something else.

How Are NOCs Designed and Organized?

There is no single answer or standard blueprint about how a NOC should be configured, or how the people working there are organized. A smaller organization’s NOC might be a single office or small conference type room with a couple workstations for technicians to monitor the network and troubleshoot problems.

Larger groups, especially those that are using their NOC to monitor an entire data center, might instead build out huge control centers with large central monitors or even projection screens showing overall network health, and then have workstations scattered all around for technicians who are responsible for individual subsets of network operations. Those individual workstations normally also have multiple monitors themselves, so the entire facility does start to resemble something like you would see at NASA during a space launch.

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