What is a Network Operations Center (NOC): A Complete Guide for MSPs

Written by Michelle Pierce Michelle Pierce | July 31, 2023 | Read Time: 7 mins

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You can’t sell Network as a Service if you can’t provide 24x7x365 monitoring and support for your customer’s network infrastructure.  

Just like internet service, your customers expect someone to be available at all hours should something happen, and this is where a Network Operations Center (NOC) comes into play. 

For most IT service providers adding a NOC is not easy. There are personnel and infrastructure costs, as well as business risks that you might not be ready or willing to solve.

Let's take a closer look at NOC services to better understand what's involved when offering this additional service to your customers.

What is a Network Operations Center?  

A Network Operations Center, commonly known as a NOC, is a centralized facility or team responsible for monitoring, managing, and maintaining an organization's network infrastructure.

It serves as a nerve center, overseeing the network's performance, addressing issues, and ensuring uninterrupted connectivity.  

NOCs employ advanced monitoring tools, skilled personnel, and established protocols to monitor network devices, systems, and applications. 

How do NOCs Work? 

NOCs operate by leveraging a combination of network monitoring tools, skilled personnel, and established procedures.  

They monitor network devices, traffic patterns, system health, and application performance in real-time.  

Alerts and notifications are generated when anomalies or issues are detected.  

The NOC team investigates these alerts, performs root cause analysis, and initiates appropriate actions to resolve the issues promptly.  

NOCs also maintain comprehensive documentation and use it to facilitate troubleshooting and future optimization.

different functions that a NOC performs

NOC vs SOC  

While NOCs and Security Operations Centers (SOCs) share some similarities, they have distinct focuses.  

NOCs primarily concentrate on monitoring network infrastructure, performance management, and incident response.  

On the other hand, SOCs specialize in cybersecurity, threat detection, and incident response related to information security.  

Both play crucial roles in ensuring the overall stability and security of an organization's operations. 

Why Offer NOC Services?

As an MSP, offering Network Operations Center (NOC) services can bring immense value to your customers.

Adding stickiness through value

With NOCs, you can provide proactive network monitoring, performance optimization, and enhanced security to businesses.  

By proactively detecting and addressing network issues, you can ensure uninterrupted operations and boost your customers' productivity.  

NOCs also allow you to optimize network performance by identifying bottlenecks and fine-tuning configurations for improved speed and seamless connectivity.  

Furthermore, by continuously monitoring network traffic and swiftly responding to threats and vulnerabilities, you can offer robust security measures to protect your customers' valuable data. 

The output of offering NOC services is you empower your customers with reliable and secure network infrastructure, allowing them to focus on their core operations. In turn, they rely on your expertise and added services creating a sticky relationship where the customer can't operate without you.

Ability to offer NaaS

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, we believe offering a 24x7x365 network operations center is a prerequisite for Network as a Service. 

With a NOC, you can now deliver on your SLAs and provide anytime, anywhere response, just like other utilities i.e. internet and power.

With NaaS you can:

  • Unlock monthly MRR and annual ARR recurring revenue.
  • Create a predictable refresh cycle
  • Offer a more complete solution for your customers with a lower cost of entry
  • Increase in value to your customers


Adding NOC services to your portfolio of offerings is not only great for your customers but it will set you apart from the vast majority of your competitors. It's a major value add that most IT service providers either can't or don't know how to include.

Customers want to focus less and less on day-to-day management tasks so they can focus on more business-critical challenges. However, they also want always-on, always-available support should something happen.

Being able to give them this capability and package it into a comprehensive solution is a big strategic advantage for the service providers that are ready. 

Whether you're a VAR focused on selling products or an MSP with a deep engineering bench, adding a NOC increases your capabilities, especially if you use a third-party partner—more on that next.

In-House vs. Outsourced NOC 

When it comes to setting up a Network Operations Center (NOC), organizations have two options: establishing an in-house NOC or outsourcing the services to a specialized provider.  

In-house NOCs offer greater control and customization, allowing direct access to the organization's network and systems.  

However, they require substantial investments in infrastructure, personnel, and ongoing training.  

On the other hand, outsourcing NOC services to a specialized provider, for example, Global Linking Solutions (GLS) brings benefits such as expertise, scalability, and cost-efficiency.  

Outsourced NOCs have the experience and dedicated resources to handle network operations effectively. 

They offer scalability to accommodate business growth and can be more cost-effective than building an in-house NOC. 

Not to mention it’s their primary focus while it would just be one of many services you offer. 

However, organizations must consider potential challenges, including data privacy, control, and communication gaps.  

Choosing a reputable NOC partner is crucial to address these concerns and ensure the best possible experience for your customers.  

Ultimately, the decision between in-house and outsourced NOCs depends on the organization's specific needs, resources, and long-term goals.

Pros and cons comparing an in house NOC vs a third-party NOC

Benefits of a NOC Partner

How can a NOC partner help grow your MSP business? Let's explore:

1. Expanded Service Offerings:

With a NOC partner, you can offer comprehensive NOC services to your customers. This includes proactive network monitoring, incident response, performance optimization, and security management.

By expanding your service portfolio, you attract new customers and have more upselling opportunities with existing ones.

2. Increased Customer Satisfaction:

Partnering with a NOC means you can deliver exceptional support and service quality. The NOC's round-the-clock monitoring, rapid incident response, and proactive network management ensure your customers' networks are in good hands.

Happy customers lead to improved retention rates and referrals, ultimately driving revenue growth.

3. Scalability and Flexibility:

As your customer base grows, a NOC partner provides the scalability and flexibility you need. They can handle the increased monitoring and management workload without you having to invest in additional infrastructure or hire more personnel.

This scalability enables you to serve more customers efficiently and generate more revenue.

4. Cost Optimization:

By partnering with a NOC, you eliminate the need to build and maintain an in-house NOC infrastructure. This saves you significant costs on hardware, software, monitoring tools, and ongoing maintenance.

Leveraging the expertise and resources of your NOC partner allows you to optimize costs and improve profitability.

5. Competitive Edge:

Offering NOC services through a trusted partner gives you a competitive edge in the market. It positions you as a leading managed service provider with a comprehensive offering typically only seen by the largest providers.

Businesses value these services, and by aligning with a NOC partner, you can stand out from the competition and attract more customers.

5 benefits of using a third party NOC Partner

So, if you're looking to enhance your service offerings, increase customer satisfaction, achieve scalability, optimize costs, and gain a competitive edge, partnering with a NOC provider is a clear choice. It opens up new revenue streams and positions your MSP business for growth and success.

Best Practices for NOCs

Whether in-house or outsourced, what should your NOC provide?

1. Ability to track all policies and protocols:

Maintain comprehensive documentation of policies, procedures, and protocols to facilitate smooth operations, troubleshooting, and knowledge sharing within the NOC team.

2. Comprehensive and regular training:

Provide ongoing training to NOC personnel to keep them updated with the latest network technologies, monitoring tools, and incident management best practices. This ensures a skilled and knowledgeable team capable of handling various network challenges.

3. Prioritize quick and 24/7 response times:

Establish clear escalation procedures, response time targets, and on-call rotations to ensure round-the-clock availability and prompt incident response.

4. Consistent Communication:

Foster effective communication channels within the NOC team and with other stakeholders. Regular team meetings, status updates, and incident reporting promote collaboration, information sharing, and alignment.

5. Regular maintenance and testing of systems:

Perform regular maintenance activities, such as patch management, firmware updates, and system backups. Additionally, conduct periodic tests and simulations to evaluate the resilience and effectiveness of the NOC's incident response processes.

6. Deep dives into performance analyses and reviews:

Regularly analyze performance metrics, network trends, and incident reports. Identify areas for improvement, optimize network configurations, and plan future infrastructure upgrades based on data-driven insights.

Final Thoughts

Understanding what a NOC is and the array of services it offers can be a game-changer for your MSP business.  

Whether you choose to invest in NOC services or partner with a reliable NOC provider, you unlock expanded service offerings — which increases your ROI and your overall customer satisfaction.  

By ensuring the stability, efficiency, and security of your customer’s network infrastructure, your business enables them to focus on their core business objectives.  

If you’re interested in offering NOC services or exploring Network as a Service, the best way to get started is with Central Office, which has NOC services embedded right into the operating system. You can book a demo today to see how it works.  

We highly recommend embracing the possibilities of NOC services with a certified NOC partner to propel your business toward seamless network operations and greater success! 

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