6 Key Ingredients for Successful 24/7 Cloud Business Operations

Effective NOC management in today’s fast-paced cloud-first world is challenging, but it is possible without having to drastically increase budgets. We’ve identified 6 key ingredients for successful NOC operations to support business strategies and goals.

  1. Observability: Balancing Real-Time Data and the Big Picture A successful observability system works as an added layer to monitoring, where management can understand the status easily any time and developers can access a consolidated “big picture” of an application and production issues. This is done by aggregating and displaying logs, analytics, alerts, and traces in one place, propelling the ability to fix issues, identify and understand the problems at hand, and improve services overall. Observability allows IT Ops to make the best-informed decision each time, and provides the big picture as well as in-depth information into each issue and the data surrounding it. An efficient observability system is proactive, predicts issues before they occur, reduces friction to identify and solve production issues, and increases the velocity of processes, releases, and the ability to update and track changes. Observability done right provides full transparency to all operations teams and developers of any domain, allowing access and tools in a user-friendly manner, instantly increasing the number of eyes and hands available at any given time to solve bugs and issues. Check out our blog for more information and insights about effective observability and controllability in cloud environments.
  2. Centralized Runbook Management The need for runbooks is clear, but many times companies manage multiple runbooks in each department instead of one centralized runbook for effective knowledge retention and management. Centralized runbooks enable teams to work more efficiently thanks to clear and defined processes that are recorded and can be easily accessed when needed. By employing a runbook mechanism with a centralized dashboard, companies can establish reliable and smooth knowledge flow within and between their different departments. The centralized dashboard provides each authorized person with a unified status view at all times, according to predefined and easily customizable key performance indicators and parameters. By adding RBA (runbook automation), malfunctions are solved even faster using human-monitored automation, which is crucial to NOC management success. This means that some steps can be run automatically to save time, but may need human intelligence and knowledge from time to time to ensure that the right decision is made. Effective runbook management ensures all knowledge is kept and updated in one place, reducing the dependency on any single employee and increasing response and resolution times while reducing manpower and potential downtime.
  3. Automation and Human Intelligence: The Ultimate Hybrid Companies will always aim to automate everything possible in order to increase efficiency and ease the human workload. While automation can do just that, it is only truly efficient when combined with human intelligence and monitoring. For automation to function properly and reliably, it must be monitored in order to ensure the right course of action in cases not covered by the automation system, and if a bug occurs preventing the system from running properly. A NOC essentially acts as a process of QA for the automation system, ensuring that problems are resolved by the automation, and if not, the NOC engineer can escalate it to avoid damage or downtime. As a result, companies gain uptime and the ability to make sure automation algorithms are updated and improved accordingly.
  4. NOC as a Hub for Production Management and Efficient Collaboration between Departments Communication is a key ingredient to succeed in almost every aspect of business, and NOC management is no exception. Today, in many organizations, the NOC is at the edge of the company’s hierarchy and processes. This means that development and maintenance teams manage their processes, and when a service is needed, they create data in a format of their choosing before sending it to the NOC to work on. Internal teams sometimes define work processes, dashboards, and alerts without ever updating or communicating with the NOC team, which increases their workload and reduces efficiency. The more players there are within a company, the more critical it is to ensure everyone is in sync with one another, and there is efficient knowledge transfer between all involved parties. By placing the NOC at the center of all of these activities and departments and using a platform like XiteiT, NOC managers can set standards for receiving data and how it’s displayed. It can provide one central place where all processes are managed and communicated properly, both internally and externally when relevant. The result is increased productivity, more efficient work processes, better work environments, and faster problem solving while preventing duplications and managing proper knowledge retention.
  5. 24/7 NOC Management The NOC offers a broad overarching analysis of the entire system operation, and provides information so that critical decisions can be approached in a proactive manner. NOC teams are always looking at the system 24/7, so they know the health of the system better than anyone. Efficient 24/7 NOC management is extremely demanding, and companies must invest in creating comfortable working environments and taking necessary measures to ensure their employees are comfortable and motivated throughout their shifts. A tiered IT support structure enables a company to maximize its staff resources by allowing NOC engineers to address routine activities, freeing up higher-level support engineers to focus on more advanced issues and implement strategic initiatives for the company. In a 24/7 proactive support environment, events or incidents reported by servers, applications, or networks can be detected, classified, and recorded via the monitoring tools, and consequently solved. For the sake of improving efficiency, customized monitoring dashboards are then used to filter out any irrelevant events or false positives.
  6. Real-Time Monitoring for Effective Uptime Management A crucial part of uptime management is real-time monitoring. Uptime management provides a unified view of the entire cloud operation aspects, which renders confidence and stability, and enables decision makers to allocate skillful resources to other tasks and assignments within the company. There are four layers of monitoring required for effective real-time monitoring, and each should be carried out in a precise and centralized manner:
  7. Resource monitoring (bare metal, network, VM, etc.)
  8. User experienced (internal and external) monitoring availability and performance
  9. Infrastructure application monitoring in which the behavior of the application is monitored within the installed environment (e.g., log monitoring, microservice monitoring, database monitoring, etc.)
  10. Application monitoring (APM)

Effective NOC management is made up of all six of these key ingredients working together to enhance their effectiveness and the success of a business’ operations. Each “ingredient” can be analyzed and approached on its own, but by combining them, companies can truly benefit from round-the-clock and reliable operations, reducing downtime, costs, and manpower time so that they can focus on their business strategies and developments.

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