NOC Services for Managed Service Providers (MSPs): A Complete Guide

Everything the modern MSP and system integrator needs to know to cost-effectively access 24x7 NOC services and unlock new revenue in 2022 and beyond.

Unlocking the NOC: An Introduction

Forward-thinking MSPs and SIs are standing before expansive market opportunities. The technologies making their way into the enterprise and the mid-market require experts who can integrate complicated multi-vendor systems and navigate the sometimes dizzying and fraught reality of digital transformation.

As the steady migration to the cloud continues, the explosion of demand for Managed Services has driven a healthy ecosystem of vendors and strategic partners eager to integrate with SIs and MSPs to meet that demand. But despite the rise in vendors and partners, there’s a notable lack of options in a critical area: high-quality 24x7 Network Operations Center (NOC) capability.

An effective, operationally mature NOC is the foundation of any MSP successfully serving enterprise and mid-market customers today. But earning the description of “effective” and “operationally mature” is neither easy nor cheap. For most MSPs, the high costs, operational experience, long lead times, and practical challenges that stand in the way of delivering efficient enterprise-level support feel frustrated at what otherwise could be a competitive value-add for customers.

MSPs therefore need a NOC partner that brings the experience of implementing and integrating monitoring and ITSM tools, advanced technical support capabilities, and deep operational expertise to handle these heavy customer support workloads better and at a fraction of the cost of utilizing their internal technical resources. Whether you call it “NOC outsourcing,” “NOC white-labeling,” “managed NOC services,” or “NOC-as-a-Service,” accessing NOC services through a dedicated, mature NOC provider simply makes the most business and practical sense given the costs, complexity, and lead-time involved with standing up a NOC internally.

This guide briefly lays out:

  • The obstacles MSPs, SIs (and value-added resellers more broadly) face in delivering NOC support themselves;
  • Why effective NOC partners are hard to find; and
  • How our NOC support model fills the gap and a few scenarios perfect fit for partnership.

If you prefer to download a PDF copy of this guide, you can request one here.


If you’re interested in learning more about joining other MSPs accessing 24x7 services through the INOC VISION Partner Program, we’d love to talk. Get in touch with us using the partner form on our website.

1 The Challenges MSPs and SIs Face in Delivering 24x7 NOC Support Themselves

NOC engineer smiling


It’s challenging and often cost-prohibitive to hire the niche NOC expertise needed to stand up a NOC, let alone operationalize it to efficiently handle the torrent of support issues customers will bring to it.

Any enterprise MSP that attempts to take on 24x7 NOC support as part of their offering without this requisite expertise and operational maturity ends up in a predictable scenario: Customer support activities steal valuable time from their company’s technical resources and cost the business both financially and in lost opportunities. Rather than focusing on the strategic, revenue-generating projects those resources should be devoted to, they stay distracted with mostly Tier 1 customer support work.

In time, these over-utilized resources turn into burned-out resources. Instead of celebrating the launch of profitable new growth projects, the organization is plunged into a state of constant stress as they deal with the daily anxieties of employee turnover, chronic operational headaches, and dissatisfied customers.

To enable 24x7 NOC support for your managed service offering while avoiding this all-too-common scenario, you need a NOC that’s both capable of delivering advanced 24x7 enterprise and mid-market support and efficient enough to handle a high volume of support activities across multiple customers—all without burdening your own technical team.

Given the costs, lead time, and operational challenges of acquiring the talent and tools—and reaching the operational maturity needed to deliver high-quality 24x7 NOC support consistently—it makes practical sense to approach NOC services like any other integrated sub-system; that is, partnering with a NOC services provider already armed with the expertise and operational maturity to unlock the full potential of your Managed Services offering without the added expenses, risks, and round-the-clock operational headaches of going it alone.

Read our other guide that de-tangles the terms "NOC managed services" and "outsourced NOC support": NOC Managed Services vs. Outsourced NOC Support

2The Difficulty in Finding a Worthy NOC Partner

NOC engineer working

Despite such high demand for enterprise-level NOC support out in the market, many SIs and MSPs struggle to find a NOC partner that can bring the operational chops needed to deliver the support enterprise customers need. Building a NOC can be hard enough. Refining its operation and super-charging its capabilities to take on multiple enterprise customers is simply beyond the scope of investment for most savvy MSPs.

Consider, for a moment, the typical NOC’s capabilities and operational sophistication relative to the needs your enterprise customers would place on it.

  • How many prospective NOCs have implemented cutting-edge machine learning and automation (AIOps) at strategic points in their workflow to correlate alarm and incident data across customers’ multi-vendor and multi-technology stacks?
  • How many prospective NOCs are really prepared to meet the support demands of a modern enterprise by correlating data across the three, four, or five different monitoring platforms your customers might be using?

Or consider the second component we mentioned: eliminating the burden on your staff.

  • How many prospective NOCs have a multi-tier operational support framework that would enable your managers to leverage the NOC partner’s Tier 1 team to handle the lower-level support activities and free up your higher-level technical team to focus only on the far fewer advanced support issues that genuinely deserve their attention?

Without a reliable NOC partner that can rise to these and all the other challenges of enterprise support, service providers not interested in the chaos of delivering 24x7 NOC support find themselves shut off from otherwise addressable markets and locked out of significant revenue opportunities with existing clients.

We launched the INOC VISION Partner Program to solve this very problem. Partnering SIs and MSPs are accessing and deploying those high-demand NOC services and finally seizing the opportunities that had been frustratingly out of reach.

Rather than burdening their technical resources with important but distracting NOC support work, they’re simply integrating our world-class NOC operation as a kind of “operational sub-system” into their Managed Services offering—seamlessly delivering world-class NOC support with practically limitless resources.

Access the INOC service catalog and overcome virtually any customer support challenge.

  • Event Monitoring & Management
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Capacity Management
  • On-Demand NOC Support
  • Service Transition
    • Planning & Support
    • New Service Onboarding
    • Change Management
    • Service Asset & Configuration Management
  • Service Reporting & Service Analysis
  • Complementary Support Services
    • Platform Integration Services
    • Client Runbook Development
    • Client Infrastructure Management Setup
    • Custom Functionality
    • Provisioning
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3A Better NOC Partner Model

Working in the NOC

As mentioned before, many MSPs just don’t have the bandwidth to distract their technical team with 24x7 NOC support activities. They also don’t have years to search for rare NOC talent, build out a sophisticated platform to support a large and diverse client book, and develop niche competencies themselves—nor should they most of the time.

Our VISION Partner Program offers a way to circumvent these challenges entirely. It condenses months or years of lead time into weeks. Service providers side-step enormous expenses to simply integrate and deploy our industry-leading NOC platform and the rare operational expertise it has spent over 20 years developing and refining—just like any other sub-system.

Rather than burdening technical staff in the short term—and taking on significant CAPEX and spending months or years operationalizing a NOC in the long term—VISION Partners quickly tap into our service catalog and deep operational expertise, getting all of the training, tools, and support they need to meet customers’ technology support challenges and accelerate profitability right now.

To paint an even more complete picture of the opportunities partnership offers to MSPs, consider just a few areas of expertise we’ve developed over the years to deliver successful NOC support to some of the most demanding enterprises worldwide.

For each, ask yourself what the smarter business decision for your organization would be: invest in developing these competencies and capabilities in-house or simply partner with an existing NOC to start deploying them immediately.

 

NOC Support Framework

Without a tiered support framework to properly manage workflow, a NOC taking on support for multiple enterprise clients will almost certainly be overwhelmed by the “wall of red.” The NOC should prioritize and organize issues into a set of queues, each of which can be handled by the appropriate group.

We’ve spent years developing and refining a robust support framework around ITIL best practices. Our approach to NOC operations is so effective at organizing and enhancing support that we typically reduce high-tier support activities by 60% or more, often as much as 90%.

 

ino-Graphic-SupportFramework

 

Our structured NOC radically transforms where and how support activities are managed—both by tier and category.

In a matter of months, the value of an effective support framework becomes abundantly clear as support activities steadily migrate to their appropriate tiers, lightening the load on your advanced engineers while working and resolving issues faster and more effectively.

The tiered IT support structure can effectively resolve 65% of incidents at the Tier 1 level and escalate advanced issues to specialized IT staff. This enables the support group to handle the events, service requests, and incidents at the appropriate tier while achieving resolution as quickly as possible. Learn more »

 

AIOps

Especially in enterprise environments where incidents and events need to be correlated across perhaps three, four, or five different monitoring platforms, successfully supporting multiple enterprise clients requires the advanced analysis and interpretation capabilities only AIOps can offer.

We’re so far the only NOC support provider applying powerful AIOps capabilities to the NOC operations environment—consolidating and correlating data from disparate systems and providing remarkable intelligence for better, faster support. Learn more »

 

Operation & Tools Integration

The INOC Platform offers a wide array of existing system integrations developed over many years, as well as the flexibility to integrate with virtually anything your customers may use.

Building a homegrown platform that’s integrable enough to connect to multiple enterprise environments is an incredibly difficult feat that would require extremely rare operational and technical expertise.

From monitoring tools to ticketing systems (and everything in between), we have the knowledge, procedural flexibility, and platform capability to integrate with your customers’ operations and toolsets right now. Learn more »

 

Service Level Management

Being able to assemble service level packages that are genuinely reflective of the services needed by various enterprise customers is no easy task.

With our SLM model, customers decide which service levels are meaningful to their business and receive SLAs to fit. We combine critical KPI reporting with a broader, often more meaningful set of objectives that bring additional data and context into view. Learn more »

 

Customer Experience Management

Enterprise customers demand the highest standards for quality support. Are you prepared to build out not just a NOC, but a support operation to continually improve it?

Our dedicated quality control and assurance programs maintain proactive and reactive checks on virtually every service component we provide. These quality measures come together with next-level reporting capabilities to deliver the comprehensive Continual Service Improvement only an operationally mature IT organization can deliver on. Learn more »

Want to go deeper? Explore all our areas of NOC expertise.

4Find Your NOC Challenge

NOC engineer in red shirt

Wondering if VISION Partnership is a fit for your organization? Below, we highlight four common NOC challenges MSPs contend with and explain how partnering with us can help you close those gaps, capture new business, and hit your business goals.

If you find yourself nodding along with any of these challenges, we’re likely a fit! Express your interest using our partner form. We'll schedule a time to explore your challenges more in-depth and discuss how our partner program can be configured to provide a NOC solution.

 

Challenge #1:

“We’re struggling to support our customers’ increasingly complex multi-technology, multi-vendor networks, and infrastructures.”

 

The Problem

If you serve enterprise customers, this may be a familiar situation: Customers continue to add new technologies and vendors to their already complex and interconnected IT infrastructures. The bigger and more complex their environments get, the more your organization is challenged to support them. Your valuable technical resources are increasingly pulled away from critical projects to deal with customer support activities.

At some point, you may face a problem: It’s simply too costly to hire, train, and manage additional high-end resources to support all your clients’ potential technology manufacturers—especially if for only one particular manufacturer or to satisfy one customer’s specific needs.

 

The Solution

The INOC VISION partnership provides immediate access to a deep bench of experienced technical resources that enable you to meet your current customers’ growing support demands while expanding your addressable market without burdening your existing technical staff or taking on additional capital expense and overhead of additional personnel.

What would otherwise be a major up-front capital investment to expand your managed services offering becomes an operational expense that can be managed flexibly as you grow.

With INOC’s advanced support resources as a direct extension of your own services, you can confidently address any of your current or prospective customers’ support needs—a level of service that puts many SIs and MSPs far ahead of their competitors in the particularly high-growth markets.

 

Challenge #2:

“Simply monitoring our customers’ networks isn’t enough. We need comprehensive technical support capabilities 24x7.”

 

The Problem

These days, enterprise companies expect a comprehensive support service that goes well beyond monitoring. They need efficient, real-time support management to keep IT operations up and running at peak performance around the clock. SIs are increasingly expected to understand the complex operational challenges that are keeping teams up at night and come prepared with a service catalog that takes on all or some of that work to meet service level requirements.

Supporting clients at this level, 24x7 requires a team of costly resources that must be available overnight and on weekends.

 

The Solution

Partnering with INOC, you get access to dedicated experienced technical resources 24x7 to resolve technical issues—all backed by SLAs that you can trust to provide you (and your customers) with peace of mind.

 

Challenge #3:

“We need access to senior technical resources who aren’t typically available after business hours or during peak times.”

 

The Problem

Until recently, you may not have seen the advanced Tier 2 or 3 utilization rates at a point that justified a larger team. But if you’re like other service providers, that’s changing. Higher resource utilization or a shift in when resources are needed can necessitate a larger team working more hours throughout the week.

But finding and hiring senior support experts is hard (and expensive) enough. Accessing these resources after business hours simply isn’t financially or practically feasible unless the support required is the majority of your business.

 

The Solution

Because we designed and built INOC specifically as a 24x7 NOC, it has abundant access to technical resources no matter what time of day. We’ve structured and operationalized our NOC specifically to accommodate all types of support, even specialized support during off-hours.

VISION Partners circumvent enormous hiring challenges and get convenient access to whoever they need—whenever and wherever they need them.

 

Challenge #4:

“Our customers are asking us to help them improve their existing NOC operations and/or provide that 24x7 support for them.”

 

The Problem

Enterprise customers that already have a NOC frequently look to an SI for help improving it operationally. They may want to improve its efficiency and effectiveness by, for example, giving it structure and improving its processes. Other times, there is no NOC, but one is sorely needed.

Many SIs and MSPs struggle to address both of these customer requests. Assessing and improving a NOC operation takes a level of expertise many service providers simply don’t have. Since it’s not a core competency, there’s simply no need to bring such a resource in-house. In the latter case, service providers may simply lack the NOC support capabilities customers need.

 

The Solution

INOC’s services—and their extension through partnerships—address both needs. Our NOC experts can provide consulting services to assess support requirements, analyze gaps, and draw on operational best practices to provide structure, define workflows, and provide full operational visibility for an existing NOC.

We also step in to fill the 24x7 NOC support gap—providing comprehensive outsourced NOC services, from initial setup to 24×7 support to post-event analysis and reporting. Partnering SIs and MSPs can address customers’ end-to-end needs, from equipment supply to maintenance/field support to 24x7 monitoring and problem resolution along with help desk services.

5A Few Partner Success Stories

Man working an ITSM issue

Check out the client case study and partner use cases below to see how VISION Partners are achieving meaningful results for themselves and their customers.

 

Client Case Study: Financial Services Company

 

Client:
Environment:
  • $2.2 billion revenue
  • $700 billion assets
  • 4,300 employees
  • 21,000 customers
  • 450 Applications
  • Windows, Unix, VMware (4500 servers)
  • MS SQL, Oracle
  • Cisco, Palo Alto, F5…
  • Dynatrace, LogicMonitor, ServiceNow...

Problems:


  • Service interruptions
  • MTTR (and Support team coordination and collaboration)
  • Shift and resources management
  • Limited operational visibility

Solutions:


  • Consolidated tools and alarm view, correlation, ticketing integration
  • ITIL process framework, NOC Runbooks, tiered support structure
  • Operational metrics, KPIs, QC/QA analysis, reporting, CSI

Results:


  • 45% Reduction in time to action
  • 70% of incidents resolved by Tier 1 Team
  • Visibility into challenge areas of infrastructure and support teams

Partner Use Case: Multi-Vendor Support

MID-SIZE SYSTEM INTEGRATOR


Situational challenge:


  • A system integrator faced with the challenge of supporting advanced network technologies from multiple vendors 24x7, including solutions they sell and those they don’t.

How INOC provided a solution:


  • Adding a structured 24x7 NOC framework has opened the door to new revenue opportunities. INOC and partner put together a Hybrid NOC solution to support multi-vendor/multi-technology client environments:
    • Tier 1 INOC + Partner Tier 2-3 (on tech that partner has resources for)
    • Tier 1-3 INOC (on tech that partner does not have resources for)
    • Vendors supported: Juniper, Cisco, Extreme, Aruba, Palo Alto, Ciena, ADVA

Results:


  • Drives new revenue opportunities as the Partner can essentially go to any client (almost) in the larger addressable market with a 24x7 support solution that provides event aggregation, problem isolation, and remediation across a multi-vendor network/architecture designed to meet the clients’ end-to-end support requirements.

Partner Use Case: NOC Operations Consulting

LARGE SYSTEM INTEGRATOR


Situational challenge:


  • A large system integrator frequently being asked by their enterprise clients to help improve the client’s own existing NOC operations and/or provide 24x7 support.

How INOC provided a solution:


  • Partner added the following service capabilities with INOC solutions:
    • NOC Assessment and Operations consulting services
    • 24x7 Shared NOC support
    • 24x7 and off-hours/weekends Dedicated NOC support
    • 24x7 Service Desk support
    • Tech supported: Network, compute, database, storage, applications

Results:


  • Partner has been addressing clients’ end-to-end needs from equipment supply to maintenance/field support to 24x7 monitoring and problem resolution along with help desk services.

Partner Use Case: Alliance (OEM) Services

NETWORK EQUIPMENT COMPANY


Situational challenge:


  • The network equipment manufacturer was working with a large telecom company who was providing NOC services on the manufacturer’s behalf. The telecom company had limited flexibility in their service features and was unable to fulfill all the requirements from a number of customers. The manufacturer then issued an RFP for NOC services.

How INOC provided a solution:


  • INOC provided a structured and secure but flexible NOC solution for the manufacturer’s customers with highly demanding SLOs, quality controls, and custom dashboards and reporting requirements.

Results:


  • The OEM increased its sales of maintenance and managed services from 20 to 85 clients in three years with substantial growth in recurring revenue.

6Final Thoughts and Next Steps

A comprehensive, operationally mature NOC is central to scaling up IT service management to the level required to meet the demands of today’s enterprise companies.

With such a massive investment required to gain the infrastructure, resources, skill sets, and management capabilities internally, integrating NOC services through a partnership enables SIs and MSPs to gain those capabilities within weeks rather than months or years—all while remaining competitive, controlling costs, and maintaining profit margins as they grow.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the top ten reasons why it makes sense for MSPs and SIs to partner with a NOC service provider:

  1. Immediate access to the INOC Platform—a single pane of glass, AIOps-based correlation and automation, issue isolation, and remediation across multi-vendor products and technologies.
  2. Immediate access to an expert team with the skill sets to address customers’ advanced support needs. Hyper-focused on NOC services for over 20 years, INOC has an ITIL-based operational framework that delivers consistent, high-quality NOC support 24x7 to organizations worldwide.
  3. The ability to provide your customers with all levels of technical resources 24x7, from Tier 1 to Tier 3 specializing in Optical, Data Center, Telco, Subsea, Wireless, Compute, Database, and Cloud.
  4. The ability to free your staff to focus on core, revenue-generating activities.
  5. A competitive advantage over competitors when it comes to providing around-the-clock NOC support.
  6. A service model designed to integrate and scale like any other sub-system.
  7. An optimized pricing model for standardized and custom support flexibility.
  8. No capital outlay compared to an in-house build.
  9. Reduced maintenance, training, and overhead costs.
  10. Predictable, controlled operational expenses.

Join other managed service providers unlocking the NOC and hitting their revenue targets with INOC.

Connect with us to schedule a partner discussion at your convenience and learn how we can add value, accelerate profitability, and grow together.

Connect with us and schedule a partner discussion

No matter where our discussion takes us, you’ll leave with clear, actionable takeaways that inform decisions and move you forward. Here are some common topics we might discuss:

  • Your support goals and challenges
  • Assessing and aligning NOC support with broader business needs
  • NOC operations design and tech review
  • Guidance on new NOC operations
  • Questions on what INOC offers and if it’s a fit for your organization
  • Opportunities to partner with INOC to reach more customers and accelerate business together
  • Turning up outsourced support on our 24x7 NOC
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