North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Operations: where are you going to sit?

  • From: Sam Thomas
  • Date: Thu Dec 07 07:33:07 2000

as someone (else) who's worked in, and helped build a NOC, I'll
throw in $0.015

> Key features for a NOC:
>    1) Good chairs

while good chairs are important, it's also quite important to design 
a useful work space. reasonable desk space for keyboard,
mouse, notepad, coffee cup, redundant coffee cup, and a paper plate with
2 slices of pizza should be the minimum standard per person. and like
your network, don't build it before you design it. :-)

remember that the "nasa look" is cool, but NASA spent their money designing
rockets, not useful/comfortable workstations for mission control.
try to keep in mind that people actually have to work there the 99% of
the time they aren't just blocking the view of the cool furniture.

>    2) Quiet

NOCs aren't quiet, make sure that all of the NOCheads in your NOC have
stereo headsets (i.e. 2 ear pieces) for their phones. providing headphones
for the computers (in place of desktop speakers) is a good idea if the
computers are going to be generating sound.

some day some genius will figure out a way to design a headset that can
be used to listen to music/computer beepage *AND* switch to a telephone
headset at the push of a button and lowering of a boom microphone.

>    3) Adequate ice maker

adequate == large, and at least as reliable as your most sickly router.
bottled/filtered water is also preferred where tap-water taste is
undesirable or unreliable.

>    4) Lots of bookshelves, file cabinets, and personel storage

and pens/notepads. every week, open the door and throw in a couple boxes of
pens and some notepads. NOC geeks like to scribble illegible notes on
notepads while fixing stuff. and they like to doodle while waiting on
hold to talk to $big_evil_telco.

>    5) Lots of phone lines (including conference and analog)
>    6) Some direct phone(s) (not through PBX, i.e. Red Phones)

this has been discussed ad nauseum, but different formats are nice.
(i.e. PBX, POTS, cell, perhaps gsm)
OH!!! don't give the alternate numbers to anyone but NOC manglement
and engineers.

>    7) Multiple PCs/Workstations per operator

multiple monitors are far easier to deal with than multiple computers,
and flat-panel LCDs are the only way to go for screens people have
to look at 8 (or more) hours straight. give your geeks their choice of
platform/OS as much as possible. geeks are more productive in an environment
they're comfortable with.

>    8) Private tunes (cd player & headset)

give the geeks what they want, a private streaming mp3 server. an old
throaway peecee from your IT department + $peecee_nix does really well
el freebo.

>    9) CNN and The Weather Channel (really ESPN)

there's nothing a NOC likes better on Sundays than football, except maybe
free beer and pizza while watching football.

>   10) Drapes across the glass window

a soundproof window would be very nice. you want your customers to see the
NOC, not hear the NOC making fun of salespeople. :-)

 11) give the NOC their own network, that they can manage themselves. do not
     put them at the mercy of your other departments for *anything* to the
     greatest extent possible. NOCs have special needs because of the
     demands that most companies put on them, and they need a handful of
     people dedicated to their needs.

 12) toys. legos, lincoln logs, k'nex, anything with blinking lights, 
     assorted sci-fi action figures with kung-fu grip.

 12.5) a toy-box where they can put the toys when the suits come to visit

 13) a BIG whiteboard. I just always liked them, and they're great for
     impromptu mentoring.

 14) a coffee maker. the type that brews into an insulated caraf/thermos is

 15) coffee fit for human consumption. it may become traditional for
     engineers to buy coffee for their NOC. (uhm, HINT ;)

 16) useful procedures. a room full of people moving in different directions
     is a mosh pit, not a NOC.

 17) a door that locks. don't give salespeople the key. don't even mark
     the door. put the door at the end of a long, dark, cold hallway.

 18) a location near physiological needs facilities. figure that one out
     on your own.

Sam Thomas
Geek Mercenary