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Blog April 16, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Connectria’s Network Operations Center (NOC)

We always talk about 24/7 support, but how does it really work?  I got a chance to catch up with Josh Wells, our Technical Support Manager of Connectria’s Managed Hosting Network Operations Center (NOC). He provided me with some great “behind the scenes” information.

So what is the NOC?

The NOC stands for Network Operations Center, it is our tier 1 & 2 support staff.  We handle all incoming support calls, routing of support tickets through our ticketing system, priority 1 support issues, and escalation of issues that require intervention from our engineering staff.

What do you monitor?

We keep a close eye on server security, performance, and everything in between.  Our central monitoring system takes care of the core monitoring needs for our infrastructure, customer servers, and devices along with utilization alerts.  We have a number of more customized and purpose-built monitoring systems as well which watch things like power, cooling temperatures, and support queue lengths.

As an example of monitoring in action, if resource utilization hits a certain threshold we’ll determine the severity of the alert and engage our engineers to take proactive action before it causes downtime or a system outage.   When required, we will escalate the events to our customers as well.  We support customized alerts and escalations with all of our customers.   We have a detailed set of procedures on when and how we alert a customer or take action when an event occurs.

Another system we use is our secure online ticketing system through the Connectria Customer Portal.  It’s our central place where we direct and document all change requests, support actions, notes, and escalation requests.

Additional Monitoring

We also monitor our information security systems that analyze all traffic coming in and going out of the network.  Our Information Security Team has configured the system so that good traffic is allowed to go through and bad traffic is blocked.  We also have a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service attack) protection system. A DOS attack is a repeated request to access a system with the intention of crashing it or “clogging up the pipes”.  This is a very important tool we monitor 24/7/365.

We also monitor Connectria’s Cloud environments, including Connectria Cloud Storage which is an Amazon S3 compatible storage solution.  It provides secure, reliable, inexpensive data storage on the cloud which can be accessed from anywhere. We monitor each of the nodes in the cloud storage topology, and we monitor for overall disk utilization and system uptime.

We keep live news and weather feed on display to stay up-to-date on world events or natural disasters, such as the Tsunami in Japan or the recent hurricane Sandy in New York. We actually had a number of international customers inquire about any issues we would encounter due to Sandy, and they were happy to hear that our data centers were not in the impact zone.

How does a customer enter a ticket?

Well, they can go to the Connectria Support website, log in with their secure username and password and click on “Create a Ticket”.  Then they write a brief description and any additional information that might be useful. They can also add attachments, screenshots, and error codes related to the issue.  Whenever the ticket is submitted, our Network Operations Center will prioritize and route it to the correct department.

What are the most common customer requests?

Some of the most common tickets are for opening firewall ports for common protocols.  We also get quite a few requests to assist with login issues, or to provide quotes for upgrades to existing resources or add additional servers.  Those are the most routine requests we come across.

Have any questions? Contact us for more information.

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