Running a network operations center has never been simple, yet the scale and complexity that digital transformation has added makes the future of automated network operations look downright dizzying.
As a result of communication service providers (CSPs) adopting next-generation technologies like NFV, SD-WAN, IPv6, 5G, and soon 6G, network engineers get hit with mounting obstacles on a daily basis. That was true even before COVID-19 radically reshaped every aspect of life as we know it, spotlighting the need for lightning-fast, bullet proof networks. With new network traffic patterns and shifting workforces adding pressure, NetOps teams are feeling the heat when it comes to safeguarding business continuity, ensuring security best practices, and delivering the highest caliber services to customers.
So how exactly does the NOC keep up in this ever-more demanding environment?
Enter the Dark NOC as the Future Network Operations
Some service providers point to the future of automated network operations as the "Dark NOC," which is a bit of a misnomer. The Dark NOC does not mean computers are taking over and displacing humans to run network operations. The Dark NOC results from leveraging intelligent network automation and artificial intelligence together to perform mundane, repetitive tasks, effectively freeing up network operators for more critical-thinking tasks.
These new, more rewarding responsibilities involve synthesizing data into thoughtful decisions. So, instead of asking questions like, “how can I troubleshoot this outage, or reduce the number of alarms coming in,” network engineers and operators can take a more innovative approach, asking, “how can I harness the data to improve this process or service.” They can expect more direct collaboration with business stakeholders in the process, carving out a more strategic trajectory in their professional development.
People Are Still Needed in the Future Network Operations Center
It's absolutely imperative to effectively communicate that people are still needed in the future network operations center; they’re just needed for different purposes. The resulting new roles are not only more rewarding, but they also help drive the organization’s continuous evolution along the digital transformation journey.
That’s one reason that repurposing skillsets and upskilling network engineers are fundamental to support the transition to the future of network operations. We’re already seeing network operators, network engineers, and managers shift from their traditional responsibilities to focus more on data-driven customer service, identifying automation candidates, validating automations, and building automation runbooks. These are just a few examples, and there are many different ways service providers are already adapting their workforces to foster these underlying changes.
Automating key NOC processes has delivered impressive ROI for our customers. Here are our takeaways.
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