North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Building a NOC

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Sat Mar 21 23:17:40 1998

Both good ideas.  But be sure to learn and understand when, where and why
the operational experiences given in these sources apply to building a NOC.

One difficulty in designing a NOC for an ISP is they operate across
several different problem domains, telecommunications, data processing,
lan, wan, etc.  Be careful if you hire a consultant with expertise in
one particular area.  NEBS and the like have several good ideas, but
they also have a built-in set of assumptions.  If you, or your consultant,
don't understand when the assumptions apply and don't apply, when you
apply the solutions to a different problem domain, you can actually
make things worse.  For example, the National Electrical Code doesn't
apply to communications equipment located inside a communication utility
building.  But the building inspector will get very grouchy if an ISP's
electrical wiring doesn't meet NEC standards.

Also, there have been changes in 'standard' practices in the last 5 years.
If your sources for designing data processing centers were written prior
to 1990, I would look for a second source.  The military has been updating
its standards to reflect revised commercial practices, but the civilian
sellers of the MILSTDs don't always show when an old practice has been

My basic problem with the original question is I don't really understand
what kind of NOC the person is trying to build.  Are we talking about
how build a NOC staff, or a NOC building to monitor a network of 70,000
nodes?  Are we talking about building a NOC theatre so management/customers
can view CNN on the projection TV wall when they visit, or a lights-out
server/equipment room designed for limited human occupation?  Are we
trying to manage 70,000 remote systems, or just the core network connecting
the sites.

>Excellent observation.  There was a text, _Engineering and Operations in
>the Bell System_, that gave some good operational experience.  With
>divestiture, I'm not sure who took it over.  I vaguely remember that
>_Transmission Systems for Communications_ went to AT&T Bell Labs, and E&O
>went to Bellcore.
>I'd also consider looking through some of the military communications
>manuals.  Unfortunately, I'm in the midst of a computer conversion and have
>to recover some bookmark files, but you can search for Army Field Manuals
>online -- they are at the TRADOC site at Ft. Monroe.
Sean Donelan, Data Research Associates, Inc, St. Louis, MO
  Affiliation given for identification not representation