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What is Network Operations?

Network operations is the tools, processes and practices that organizations use to manage the lifecycle of network infrastructure. Network operations teams are responsible for overseeing the performance and reliability of network infrastructure, updating existing network resources, and configuring new ones. They typically also play a role in helping to mitigate network security threats.

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What Is a Network Operations Center (NOC)?

A network operations center (NOC) is a centralized place from where Enterprise IT teams can configure, monitor, and ensure network availability and performance.

Purpose of a Network Operations center

The purpose of network operations is to minimize any business impact by guaranteeing minimal to no network outages or downtime and maintain the desired application performance.

Network operations is an important responsibility given that networks play a foundational role in most modern environments by providing connectivity between disparate applications, services, and infrastructures. Without effective network management processes, most workloads would be at risk of not functioning as needed.

Network operations is also a challenging task, however, due to the many different networking architectures, equipment, and management tools that organizations typically use today. For instance, a network infrastructure that includes both software-based and hardware-based components requires network operations processes that can support both types of resources, and of handling the complex network architecture created by such an infrastructure.

How Network Operations Centers work

The exact nature of network operations may vary from one organization to another, depending on the types of network infrastructure it deploys and the networking requirements of its workloads. However, virtually all network operations strategies include the following components:

  • Network implementation and change management: When a business needs to roll out new network infrastructure or update existing networking resources, the network operations team manages the implementation process based on designs configured by network architects.
  • Network monitoring: Network operations teams use monitoring tools to track the performance of network infrastructure and validate that it meets workload requirements.
  • Network troubleshooting: If network operations teams detect performance issues, such as a spike in latency or a high rate of packet loss, they investigate the issue and take the steps necessary to remediate it.
  • Network security management : Although network security is often a function primarily of security teams, not network operations, network operations engineers may nonetheless play a role in helping to respond to security incidents that affect network infrastructure.

By overseeing these processes, network operations ensures that networks function in the way that businesses need.

What to consider when planning network operations

To design a network operations strategy, start by assessing the network availability and performance requirements of your workloads. These can vary widely; for example, an application that needs to ingest and process data in real time over the network may require latency rates lower than 100 milliseconds, while a website can typically tolerate much higher latency rates while still delivering its intended user experience.

Consider as well which types of network infrastructure and architectures your network operations processes will need to support. The more complex your network, the more sophisticated your network operations strategy will need to be.

Once you've decided your networking requirements, design and implement network operations processes capable of supporting them. Be sure to determine which staff will be responsible for managing network operations and how they will collaborate. Typically, businesses consolidate network operations within a network operations center, or NOC, which serves as a central hub for all aspects of network management and administration, but your approach to network operations may vary depending on your unique needs.

How does VMware help?

VMware NSX provides an innovative operational model for networking defined in software, forming the foundation of the software-defined data center (SDDC) and extending to the cloud. Network operators can now achieve levels of agility, security and economics that were previously unreachable when the network was tied solely to physical hardware components. NSX provides a complete set of logical networking and security capabilities and services, including logical switching, routing, firewalling, advanced threat prevention, advanced load balancing, and visibility.

It also includes native operational capabilities such as central CLI, traceflow, overlay logical SPAN and IPFIX to troubleshoot and proactively monitor the virtual network infrastructure. Integration with tools such as VMware Aria Operations™ for Logs (formerly VMware vRealize® Log Insight™) for highly scalable log management, and VMware Aria Operations for Networks (formerly VMware vRealize Network Insight™) for advanced analytics and troubleshooting.

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