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Network Operations Center (NOC)

What is a Network Operations Center?

A network operations center (NOC) is a centralized physical location from which specialized teams of IT personnel or NOC engineers can monitor, manage, and maintain an enterprise network.


The goal of a network operations center is to ensure business continuity and operational success by safeguarding the network’s health and security posture while maximizing network performance and availability. By centralizing network monitoring and IT infrastructure management through a network operations center, organizations can enhance their network monitoring capabilities, improve network performance and availability, and reduce IT costs.

How Does a Network Operations Center Work?

IT personnel in a network operations center use purpose-built software tools to monitor the health and performance of enterprise networks, identify and address network performance issues, manage IT infrastructure, analyze security threats, and perform data back-ups in compliance with the IT organization’s disaster recovery and business continuity objectives.


Enterprises that manage their own data centers often decide to staff and manage their own network operations center. The NOC is usually located in close proximity to the data center and staffed with NOC engineers or other IT personnel dedicated to network operations and maintenance.


Some enterprises host their IT infrastructure in hyperscale data centers owned by 3rd-party managed service providers (MSPs), a practice known as Colocation. Colocation providers allow enterprises to rent space for servers and other network infrastructure within their data centers, staff and manage a NOC within the data center to ensure network availability, and provide data center security services (e.g. access provisioning, physical security, device management, business continuity and disaster recovery, etc.).


A NOC often contains display screens or a video wall showing visualizations of data from the network, as well as computer workstations for NOC engineers and other IT personnel.

What Does a Network Operations Center Do?

Network Monitoring

NOCs use network monitoring and observability tools to monitor network devices, servers, and applications in real time. Proactive network monitoring allows IT personnel to detect performance issues, errors, anomalous behavior, or other events that could indicate a potential network issue. From there, IT personnel can investigate and remediate potential issues before they develop into larger problems that cause downtime or negatively impact end users.

IT Infrastructure and Equipment Management

Network operations centers are often responsible for managing an organization’s IT infrastructure, including its facilities, data centers, network components, endpoint devices, public cloud infrastructure and services, software, data, and other equipment. Centralizing IT infrastructure management through the NOC simplifies device administration and facilitates efficient allocation of IT resources.

Installing, Updating, and Patching Software

Modern enterprises deploy tens or hundreds of software applications on their networks. Network operations centers are responsible for installing software on the enterprise network, scheduling and executing software updates when needed, and patching known software vulnerabilities to safeguard the organization’s security posture.

Deploying and Monitoring Security Tools

Modern enterprises deploy a range of security tools to safeguard network infrastructure against cyber threats. Network operations centers often cooperate with security operations teams to deploy and monitor security tools and technology on the network, including firewalls, antivirus, intrusion detections systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), data loss prevention (DLP), and security information/event management (SIEM) tools.

Threat Analysis

Network operations centers often play a role in analyzing potential threats against the network. NOCs that are involved in network security monitoring will receive alerts and incident reports from security tools, analyze or investigate those reports to better understand the threat, share information with enterprise security teams, and take steps to contain the threat before it can negatively impact network availability or performance.

Incident Management and Response

Network operations centers typically own the incident management and response process with respect to network performance and availability issues. Network issues or incidents are reported directly to the NOC where they will be investigated and triaged based on the urgency/severity of the issue. From there, the appropriate teams will take action to minimize the impact of the incident, restore normal operations, and implement changes to prevent the incident from recurring.

Network Configuration Management

Network operations centers are responsible for managing the network configuration and maintaining information about all components in the network. This includes keeping track of devices and their IP/network addresses, along with details about the default settings, programs, and updates installed on them. Consulting this information can help network administrators determine the best ways to repair, expand, or upgrade the network.

Change Management

Network operations centers follow IT change management practices designed to avoid unplanned downtime and minimize business disruption when rolling out new services, modifying existing ones, or resolving network issues. Change management involves communicating effectively with stakeholders, prioritizing the right changes from a resource management perspective, testing changes before widespread implementation, and planning changes to minimize business disruption.

Data Back-up

Enterprises regularly back up data from mission-critical applications to avoid data loss and ensure business continuity in case of an unplanned service disruption. The network operations center is often responsible for enforcing data policies and performing scheduled data back-up tasks in compliance with the organization’s business continuity plan.

Disaster Recovery

Natural disasters, cyber attacks, hardware and software failures, and accidental data loss are all examples of disasters that can disrupt the performance and availability of an enterprise network. When a disaster occurs, network operations centers play a crucial role in implementing the organization’s disaster recovery protocols and restoring the functionality of critical IT infrastructure.

Network Performance Reporting and Optimization

NOCs capture huge amounts of data about network health, performance, and availability. This data may be included in reporting that informs IT and executive managers about the health or performance of the network. IT personnel also analyze network performance data to identify the best opportunities for optimizing network health, performance, and availability.

NOC vs. Security Operations Center (SOC) - What’s the Difference?

NOCs and security operation centers (SOCs) can both play a critical role in maximizing network availability, so it’s important for enterprises to understand the difference.


Both NOCs and SOCs are centralized physical locations from which dedicated teams of IT personnel can monitor an enterprise network. But while NOCs focus on identifying network issues and maximizing network performance and availability, SOCs focus on identifying cyber threats and optimizing the organization’s security posture against digital adversaries.


Routine tasks for SOCs can include reviewing threat intelligence, monitoring network security tools and firewalls, analyzing threats, responding to security incidents, and patching software vulnerabilities. 


Just like with NOCs, some organizations choose to staff and manage an in-house SOC located near the data center while others may choose to outsource the SOC function to an MSP. Many organizations choose to operate an SOC that works in tandem with their NOC, allowing the two teams to collaborate on network monitoring and share data to accelerate the incident response process. A less popular option is to absorb the security functions of a SOC into the NOC, creating a single team that responds to both network availability and security challenges.

NOC vs. IT Helpdesk - What’s the Difference?

While NOCs focus on monitoring the network to detect issues and improve performance, an IT helpdesk is a separate team that provides IT assistance and technical support services to employees of the business. 


IT helpdesk services often include deploying new hardware and devices, fixing or troubleshooting hardware issues, assisting with software installation or updates, email support, and account management tasks like resetting passwords or configuring 2FA.

Key Benefits of a Network Operations Center

Improved Network Performance

NOCs play a critical role in optimizing network performance and availability. NOCs collect and analyze data from the network to help optimize network configuration, reduce latency, maximize availability, and enhance overall network performance.

Reduced Operational Downtime

For large organizations that depend on enterprise network infrastructure for mission-critical applications and workloads, unplanned operational downtime can quickly result in unacceptable revenue losses, SLA breaches, and/or upset customers.

NOCs play a crucial role in reducing operational downtime by responding quickly to incidents that could impact network availability and implementing disaster recovery protocols as needed to keep critical systems online and accessible.

Enhanced Cybersecurity Posture

NOCs collaborate with SOCs to safeguard the organization’s cybersecurity posture, including by deploying enterprise security tools, monitoring antivirus and security alerts, triaging potential security incidents, and responding to security incidents or alerts.

Enhanced Business Continuity 

A business continuity plan describes the specific steps that enterprises must take to continue operating during a disaster or unforeseen event. NOCs contribute to enterprise business continuity objectives by:


Time, Labor, and Cost Savings

Centralizing network operations within a single NOC team helps streamline IT operations and reduce administration costs. The ability to proactively improve network performance and resolve network issues helps drive productivity and efficiency while minimizing or avoiding revenue loss associated with unplanned downtime.

TierPoint Data Centers are Supported by High-Performance Network Operations Centers

TierPoint operates 40 state-of-the-art data centers across the United States, providing secure and reliable Colocation and Data Center Services to our enterprise clients.

Hosting your IT infrastructure with TierPoint can help you better secure mission-critical systems, improve network/service availability, and optimize workloads across complex multi cloud environments. Our carrier-neutral data centers are backed by industry-leading SLAs of up to 100% for network uptime and availability, and supported around the clock by our high-performance network operations center with robust network monitoring and disaster recovery capabilities.

Ready to Learn More?

Book an intro call with TierPoint to learn more about enhancing your network availability and security with our colocation and data center services.