Incident response in a Network Operations Center (NOC) is cumbersome and time-consuming. There are many steps, many sources where incidents come from, and a long, long list of complexities involved.
For instance, for incident response with a NOC, there’s the initial monitoring – Tier 1 functions of “eyes on glass” work of looking at alerts coming in and what they’re for, such as a security breach, performance issue, a hardware failure, among others. Then comes triaging these events and determining their priority, as well as where to start, based on severities. In the initial detection step, when looking at incidents, the NOC has to check for what’s real and what’s false.
Even the early steps of incident response indicate that without automation, the challenges of incident response really limit what NOCs and their organizations can accomplish.
Resolve sat down with one of our Telco customers whose incident response had become overwhelming. We talked about the problems they were having, including an unreasonably high alarm volume, ineffective alarm rationalization, and excessive mean time to resolution (MTTR), an unideal outage identification rate, and outdated process documents for handling alarms and events.
Additionally, the company had its eyes set on two business goals, including advancements in scripting and reducing alert volume to 10,000 per week.
Together, the challenges and goals created an ideal opportunity to bring in automation. So, Resolve helped the Telco along an automation journey for fast improvements and sustained positive change. Ultimately, the top reasons for automating incident response emerged. We unpack each one below.
Speed and Efficiency
No matter what IT tools humans have today, they cannot get faster than automation. Automation will always win the race for processing events quicky by producing results such as reduced false positives, less chance of burnout, and diminished noise – ultimately dropping an organization’s mean time to resolution (MTTR) and minimizing potential harm to the business.
Incident response automation multiplies efficiency compared to that of human IT teams. From automated incident detection and notification, to resolution, IT teams find themselves in a better, more proactive place when automating these processes.
They get freed up to work on complex projects that make a big difference in overall business performance. Automation also means IT teams are no longer held back from managing the design and triggering of automated actions from root cause identification, troubleshooting, and remediation.
Above all, things just move faster, and they’re done so in a more reliable way when automated. Automation streamlines the steps of incident response, including incident acknowledgement, finding its root cause, discovering why it happened, and then taking action to resolve the problem.
Consistency is absolutely key for automated incident response, although sometimes, it’s overlooked and maybe even taken for granted.
Let’s take a NOC employee who works the day shift, for example, who uses a particular way to work through a problem. And let’s say they were trained by “Trainer A.” Then someone who works the night shift was trained by “Trainer B” who does things, and trains employees, a little differently. That means the trainers’ notes are different, the fields they choose are different, they way they problem solve is different, and so forth.
What’s the right way?
That answer is easy: When you automate incident response, the process will run the same way every time, thereby avoiding variations. Automation enables strategies for solving problems to mirror each other because it performs tasks and processes consistently.
Consistency is a piece that provides opportunities to identify your next automation, or how to take that automation further. You can notice patterns, which consistently allow you to determine your next automation step.
Consistency also starts to provide opportunities to identify your next automation and learn how to take it further. Once automation has everyone doing things the same way, then patterns emerge to indicate the next task or process to automate.
Consider a NOC employee who’s tasked with manual, “eyes on glass” monitoring. If this person has to leave their desk, even for just a minute or two, a fire alarm could come in while they’re away. Plus, even tapping a neighbor for help doesn’t guarantee the alarm will be noticed. After all, that neighbor has their own work to pay attention to. Too much time passes before the alarm is seen.
Automation; however, would be ready to jump on the alarm and prevent it from being missed, and do so around the clock and more efficiently alleviate problems.
A manual “eyes on glass” work style, for example, isn’t ideal if an IT employee needs to leave their screen. If an alarm comes in while they’re away, too much time has likely passed during which it wasn’t noticed. The nonstop availability of automation helps keep IT teams in control of unexpected events and issues.
NOC teams, when they have an event, scale with processing and computers, which is much more feasible than increasing your workforce.
This Telco for example, have to handle a severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, blizzards, and more at any given moment, and sometimes, they come out of nowhere. These weather events can produce thousands of power outages and major problems for customers. And that means IT has their own event storm to manage.
Let’s say this severe weather hits at 6 p.m. on a Saturday when there’s minimal staff in the NOC.
How do you scale to that and instantly meet your customers’ expectations?
Automation can do just that. Scaling and managing events with automation allows events to be handled immediately, in real time.
As it’s the core of any telco’s business network operations that monitors and manages network systems, NOC’s role is only growing along with that of the digital era. Some might say the digital explosion made efficiency and effectiveness much harder to come by and so human IT teams fell behind, and then failed to keep up.
Automation for network operations not only allows NOC teams to once again, get ahead of incident response, but empowers NOCs to use their resources toward high-strategy operations, improved network performance, and better customer experiences.
Resolve can guide your NOC with the transformative power and benefits of automation. Watch our
on-demand webinar to learn more:
“Incident Management Reinvented: 5 Ways to Pioneer NOC Success Through Automation.”