Six Questions MSPs Need to Ask NOC Providers

Six Questions MSPs Need to Ask NOC Providers

Instead of building a NOC (network operations center) from scratch, many VARs and managed services providers (MSPs) leverage third-party NOCs. But for those who are still evaluating their business strategies, here are six questions VARs and MSPs should ask potential NOC partners. Plus, four potential problems you need to avoid when starting your NOC journey.

First, some proper credit: The tips below come from Lane Smith, CEO of Do IT Smarter, and Frank Hughes, CEO of Cloud Services Depot. Smith and Hughes spoke on a CompTIA webcast earlier today, which I moderated.

So, what questions should VARs and MSPs ask while exploring their NOC options? Smith offers these six recommendations:

  1. What does the customer on boarding process look like?
  2. Where is the NOC located?
  3. What levels of redundancy have been implemented to ensure uptime?
  4. Does the NOC follow ITIL standards?
  5. What is the escalation process?  Is it integrated with your PSA (professional services automation) tool?
  6. What is the SLA?
Meanwhile, Hughes offers these four tips to help VARs and MSPs avoid setbacks with NOC providers:

  1. Understand that a NOC is an augmentation to your existing team and not a replacement for all of your engineers and technicians.
  2. Make sure NOC team and reseller team has secure communication.  Use systems such as email, chat and ticketing that can record all activity instead of phone calls.
  3. PSA and RMM (remote monitoring and management) tools do not collect enough data to manage a client, so it becomes important for MSPs to use a different method to document Client Site details.
  4. Make sure your NOC partner supports all of your client’s technology today and in the future.  Resellers shouldn’t miss out of business opportunities due to the limitations of their NOC.
I realize third-party NOCs come in all shapes and sizes. NOC competition is getting pretty intense as software companies (like Zenith Infotech), distributors (like Ingram Micro Seismic working with NetEnrich; and Synnex) and Master MSPs (such as MSP Services Network) promote NOC services for VARs and MSPs.

I certainly don't have all the answers. But perhaps the tips above can help MSPs and VARs to take a step back and ask the right questions as they evaluate various NOC options.

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