xSP: Microland’s NOC
Stepping ahead with a NOC
Microland's Network Operations Center in Bangalore has been
operating for four years now. Through it, Microland remotely manages the complete
IT infrastructure of its clients. We look at Microland's NOC and what makes
it tick. by Abhinav Singh
set up its Network Operations Center (NOC) called the Operations Management
Center in 1999. It functions 24 hours a day on all 365 days with 183 people
on board. Microland's NOC caters to 15 customers including Blue Dart, Heinz,
IDBI Bank, NetCom Systems, and a Fortune 10 customer, of whom roughly a third
are in India. It is one of the few NOCs in India that manages the infrastructure
for a BPO company.
The NOC supports over 3,00,000 users globally.
Services to the customers
Microland's NOC helps in the proactive identification
and solution of problems that crop up in a client's IT infrastructure. Remote
monitoring and remote management of problems at the center reduces the number
of people required to perform similar functions onsite.
Much of this monitoring activity is automated and alerts
are sent to the concerned people in the event of a problem. The NOC manages
data centers (with hundreds of servers and network devices)two in the
US, one in Japan, two in the Asia Pacific region, and many in-house data centers
located within a customer's premises across the world.
It manages enterprise networks and its client sites
are located in the US, UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore,
Japan, Australia, Hungary, India, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and China.
The NOC manages enterprise security for its customers.
This includes managing firewalls, VPNs, IDSs, content filtering software, encryption
technology, and anti-virus. Enterprise storage architectures like NAS and SAN
are managed at the NOC.
Web and intranet management
Web Servers and intranets are managed from the NOC
for Microland's customers. In addition, the NOC has an enterprise helpdesk to
support end-users. It manages messaging infrastructure, which includes managing
messaging servers, gateways, access servers, and traffic robots for a large
client with over 1,00,000 customers. Remote activities include managing data
backup and restoration as well as disaster planning.
Suresh Raman, Vice-President, Marketing at Microland
says, "The average savings per customer outsourcing management of its IT
infrastructure to our NOC is between 40 and 50 percent."
The company claims to be able to better its service
level agreements depending upon the requirement, criticality of the data and
the need of its customers, since the NOC serves as a single point of contact
for all problems related to the client's IT infrastructures.
"Our value proportion is distinctly in terms of
cost savings, quality and process alignments and reliability and availability
of services," explained Raman.
Equipment at the NOC
Microland's NOC houses equipment including servers,
consoles, tools and instrumentation and large power backup generators. For starters,
the NOC has a Pix Firewall from Cisco that provides an encrypted tunnel over
There is also a Checkpoint Firewall that has a VPN
device running over it. There are over a hundred servers running and around
50 layer 4 switches from Cisco.
The NOC uses an in-house software
known as Magnify for logging calls. There is also a combination of different
software tools to monitor the IT infrastructure of Microland's customers from
Tools like What's Up Gold, an SNMP tool helps in detecting
the internal status of different devices running at Microland's customer's site.
Big Brother is used to sound alerts in case of any infrastructure problems at
the customer site. There are also plans to deploy International Private Leased
Circuits (IPLCs) in order to have separate connections for different customers.
The physical security setup
Starting from physical security to network security
Microland's NOC is well protected. Fire alarms and smoke detectors help maintain
physical security. There are two floors that host different areas of operations
of the NOC. Doors on these floors open only if you have the right access card
and you need a separate card for each floor.
All the servers at the NOC are rack-mounted and are
enclosed in server and the network equipment roomsall accessible only
via access cards that are restricted to a few specialists and NOC managers.
To physically guard all the floors there are six security guards manning the
The network security setup
To monitor the network as well as physical security
there is a Technology and Practices team headed by Microland's CTO. It has 12-15
members specialised in the field of security and their main responsibility is
to implement the BS-7799 security standard throughout the organisation.
Their task also includes drawing security parameters
for any new product that is installed at the NOC. For this, the company has
a specialised lab where it evaluates new products and sets security parameters
for them. To maintain network security at the NOC there are firewalls, and all
machines installed at the NOC are password protected. Network security is largely
based on the guidelines of the BS-7799 standard.
Keeping it tight
Security at the NOC is very tight. From controlled
physical access, to glass rooms for the monitoring centers, firewalls, IDS and
encryptioneverything is managed well at the NOC. It ensures that everything
is managed to ensure full control and to comply with client security norms and
Backup and physical infrastructure
Microland's NOC occupies a total floor area of 18,000
square feet. The power supply has redundancy built in at three levels including
a fully redundant 50 KVA UPS (two 50 KVA UPSs are connected in parallel), a
separate 5 KVA fully redundant UPS for the data center (CRM, HelpDesk, application
servers and network devices). There's also a 500 KVA redundant generator to
support the entire facility including the high voltage AC. The total AC capacity
is 100 tons. This includes a central AC of 70 tons. There are also split and
individual ACs for specific areas like the data center and monitoring room.
Ambient temperature can be maintained as desired.
Abhinav Singh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Microland's NOC has tools and Instrumentation customized to each client
requirements as well as some existing with its client when it began offering
its services to said client.
Help Desk Tools
Systems Management Tools
- HP OpenView
- Patrol Console
- TNG Unicenter
- Microsoft Operations Manager
- EMC Navisphere
- SAN Works
Server Management Tools
- Compaq Insight Manager
- Dell Open Manager
- VM Ware
- NT Management Resource Kit
- Sun Solaris
Point Management Tools
- Hummingbird / Exceed
- Terminal Service Client