Without an onsite Network Operations Centre, colocation can be a headache waiting to happen
You already know colocation is a great way to save yourself the headaches of providing top-tier communications, cooling, power conditioning and the other things that a modern data centre needs. But what do you do when you need to reroute a network cable, physically restart a server or hot-swap a failed hard drive?
Such requirements are quickly addressed when a server is in your building. When the server is across town in someone else’s data centre, however, that simple configuration change could involve a half-hour drive and – if it involves waking up a slumbering network engineer – a whole lot of sweet-talking.
For this reason, many companies are choosing colocation providers that have gone to the effort of installing on-premises network operations centres (NOCs) that are physically located right next to their customers’ server.
Onsite NOCs have direct access to all servers, storage, and networking equipment, backed by staff who are available 24x7 to handle any type of request on behalf of their client. NOC staff can be standing in front of any rack in the building within minutes, resolving problems faster and more effectively than if companies rely on their own staff to travel to the hosting site.
Despite their clear value, NOCs are few and far between – mostly due to the small amount of extra space available in most colocation facilities. The footprint of a NOC, after all, consumes space that might otherwise be filled with servers.
NTT, however, knows there is always buttons to be pressed, remote access to be enabled, or network connections to be done in the background of any server environment. We recognised the importance of a NOC early on, and moved to establish such a facility in two of the data centre sites where we offer colocation space in Australia.
We are the only colocation provider to offer a NOC presence within the Global Switch Sydney facility, and one of just two companies to do so within NEXTDC M1 Melbourne premises.
While its convenience is a major benefit, having a NOC helps colocation customers in one other very significant way: access to skilled managed services. NTT’s engineers are highly skilled in areas around network and server administration; new and emerging technologies like software defined networking (SDN) and public cloud interconnection; and management of enterprise-grade information systems in high-pressure environments.
That makes our engineers particularly valuable for businesses that have been hit by the ICT skills gap and are already struggling to find enough qualified engineers to support their data-centre environments.
That situation is unlikely to improve soon: the latest Hays Quarterly Report identified hotspots of demand for skills including data and solutions data architects, service desk, IT support, AWS/Azure/GCP and hybrid cloud solutions, DevOps and automation, infrastructure engineers and more.
Staff with those qualities have their pick of the job market and individual companies may struggle to attract and retain them. This puts pressure on the day-to-day administration of data centre equipment.
Even in companies that have enough staff, there are usually enough tasks to be done to keep other equipment running smoothly – without having to send their skilled engineers to a colocation data centre on a regular basis. Finding additional staff with the right skills is extremely difficult and contractors are expensive to source and keep on-call after hours.
For these and other reasons, choosing a provider with its own on-premises NOC makes good business sense for any company looking seriously at colocation. The ability to rely on other people to manage infrastructure is a key reason that many companies pursue colocation in the first place – so when things go wrong, why not have someone qualified on the ground to take care of that as well?