Performance and capacity management in a Network Operations Centre (NOC) can often be a daunting task. As Opie, the most senior NOC engineer knows all too well, identifying capacity needs before they impact network performance and service delivery can be a constant challenge. However, with the assistance of automation, NOCs can effectively manage performance and capacity, enhancing service delivery and customer satisfaction.
Understanding what ‘normal’ looks like for the network is a crucial first step. With the vast amounts of data flowing through a network, it’s important to establish a baseline to compare subsequent performance. Automation can assist in creating this baseline for critical devices and interfaces, such as primary WAN links to core sites and data centres.
From this established baseline, thresholds for key metrics like CPU utilisation, memory utilisation, bandwidth utilisation, and dropped packets can be set. Automated systems can monitor these metrics in real-time, alerting NOC personnel when thresholds are breached. This proactive approach can help identify potential issues before they escalate and impact network performance.
In the event of recurring or consistent breaches, automation can also support the generation of proactive incident tickets, supplying relevant information for initial triage. This could include the number of threshold breaches that occurred, the historical trend of the captured KPI/metric, the current state, and top-N traffic flows or top talkers for interface utilisation. NetFlow typically needs to be enabled to capture this information.
This proactive approach allows NOC engineers and leadership to assess the need for rerouting or offloading traffic, device upgrades, port upgrades, or bandwidth upgrades. Such decisions are informed by data, reducing guesswork and enhancing accuracy. Any required change request tickets can be opened, factoring in necessary budgeting and funding requests.
Moreover, all this information can be rolled into automated reporting, providing stakeholders with essential insights into the status of their services. These reports can be tailored to the needs of different stakeholders, ensuring that everyone from senior management to technical staff have the information they need to make informed decisions.
In conclusion, automation offers significant benefits for performance and capacity management in a NOC. From establishing a baseline for network performance, to proactive monitoring and alerting, to generating insightful reports, automation can enhance the ability of a NOC to manage performance and capacity effectively. By leveraging automation, NOCs can stay ahead of the capacity planning curve, ensure robust network performance, and deliver better service to their customers. Automation is not just a tool for enhancing efficiency; it’s a strategic asset that can transform the way NOCs operate and deliver value.
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