The sharper focus, pooled knowledge, and other benefits of managed NOC services lead to better results
The rush of businesses to the public cloud has been dizzying over the last few years. Some view our outlook on the matter as contrarian, but the truth is that it’s simply a reflection of our overall philosophy. We want companies to do their homework.
Here’s a great example: Sometimes it makes sense to keep your IT department fully on-premises, and sometimes it makes sense to export parts. Using managed NOC services just makes sense for the majority of businesses.
In other words, if you’re Visa, Paypal, or another massive company that lives on the bleeding edge of network security, the advice in this article probably isn’t for you. But for everybody else, here’s why you should give managed NOC services a chance to prove their value. Before we establish why, let’s be clear in what we’re talking about.
What Are Managed NOC Services?
Managed NOC services are companies that handle the day-to-day administration, maintenance, and security of your network operations center (NOC) for you.
Let’s break that down a little more. NOCs are the nerve centers of business’ IT operations. They’re responsible for making sure your network works and all the users and applications within it can communicate with each other when and where they’re supposed to. The security operations centers (SOCs) within them ensure that nobody else can crash the party.
There are effectively two ways to approach the duties of a NOC:
Here at Roundstone, we think that most businesses who do their homework will find that the latter option is a better fit.
5 Reasons Why Managed NOC Services Are the Smarter Choice
Our years of experience in advising clients across a range of sectors tell us that using a managed NOC service is probably the smarter choice for your business. Here’s why.
(In a hurry? Here’s your TL;DR: Each of these five reasons feeds into the fact that managed NOC services can give you a better security posture, and that’s not part of your business you want to skimp on.)
NOC services only have one job. Their business model is built on making the network experience of their clients better and safer, and they invest all their resources into it. When you do it yourself, you only dedicate a piece of your overall operations to the cause. Your internal team must manage the numerous moving parts of keeping a NOC online as they attend to other tasks.
“Keeping a NOC online” isn’t good enough when we’re talking about the nerve center of your business. It needs to be proactive in dealing with emerging threat vectors and vulnerabilities because the bad guys only need to outfox you once to shut your business down.
Managed NOC services have a narrow focus applied broadly. Working with many customers across multiple industries gives them experience in dealing with many different types of attacks and in-depth knowledge of how systems interact. They then use that broad exposure to strengthen the security they offer to each individual customer.
Even if you’ve been lucky (or pay generously) enough to assemble one of the best security teams in the field, their exposure will be more limited. They’ll struggle to keep up with the shared experience a managed NOC service naturally accumulates in the course of doing business.
You may already be saying “wait a minute” on this one. Doesn’t rolling your own internal solution almost always mean better customization, even if it ends up being more expensive or time-consuming than working with a third party? In this case, the answer is no, not really.
Managed NOC services have a robust set of tools to use and experiences to draw from. This gives them a much broader breadth of options to choose from. They will also have the practical wisdom to tell you which options are good ideas and which ones may not work out how you want them to. After all, information security is one thing you never want to take big, risky swings on.
One of the vendors we partner with is Arctic Wolf. Security operations are their only business, and they don’t care what platforms, hardware, software, or tools you may use. They will manage them. Now, once they learn what you want to accomplish, they will likely be able to say, “Hey, here’s a better way to do that.” Their narrow focus applied broadly means they can make more intelligent suggestions, and you can decide on which ones to use together.
Time and Resource Savings
When you manage your own NOC, it’s you against the world. Like we said before, you have to be on your A-game all the time, while attackers in every time zone only need to take a lucky stab once to potentially destroy your organization. And yes, you may still be able to do it competently all by yourself. But think about what you have to give up to make that happen: time, resources, training time, compensation (more on that in a bit).
Even if they only did it as well as your team could, bringing in a third-party managed NOC service would still let you step back from the many nuts-and-bolts tasks of managing a NOC. That’s a lot of extra time and resources you could reinvest in your teams and products. And that’s a lot more likely to make an impact on your bottom line than the pride you feel in keeping it all in-house.
Cost and Talent
Speaking of your bottom line, business leaders often point to inflated costs as an argument against using assets such as managed NOC services. That’s true for many areas of IT outsourcing and we very much encourage that kind of critical thinking (even if we wonder where it is in many other areas of buying business IT solutions).
Here’s the problem: the market for high-level NOC talent is competitive as hell right now. Many of the most skilled and experienced workers in the space favor “hired gun” work at places like managed NOC services, where they can flex their specialization as they deal with a whole portfolio’s worth of networks, tools, and threats. The rest are getting scooped up by huge firms that can afford their skyrocketing salaries, like Visa and Paypal.
If you want industry-standard network security, you need to go where the industry-standard network security engineers are. Since managed NOC services put them on your company’s case without needing to cover a whole team’s ultra-competitive compensation, they’re typically the better choice value-wise.
Still Uncertain? We’ll Help You Make the Right Choice
All of this is wisdom from our experience working with a range of clients. We can say, generally speaking, that you’ll be better off working with managed NOC services for all the reasons outlined above.
But when you’re making a decision for your business in particular, you shouldn’t stick with generalities. It always pays to take a step back and assess your unique challenges and goals, and figure out your own path from one to the other.
We’re happy to help you mark out that path for your business. If you’d like to learn more about potentially working with managed NOC services, or have any other questions about your organization’s IT infrastructure, contact us today. It will be worth your time.
Tim Joyce, Founder, Roundstone Solutions