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NOC technicians are the unsung heroes of the data center. They work 24/7 to ensure that data center clients always have a first, and single, point-of-contact to address any issues that might arise. So who exactly are they, and what do they do?
Where do they come from?
A NOC technician is typically the first step in an IT career. However, there are levels within the career for entry level – right out of school, up to those with many years of experience who provide leadership and mentoring roles.
Given the wide variety of duties, we look to hire candidates with A+ and Network+ certifications. Often, colocation data centers are at the heart of a given enterprise's mission-critical activities. So, understandably, standards are high when looking for potential data center NOC techs—especially in-house techs like those who make up our team.
Regardless of experience, there is a general shortage of IT candidates, especially in the Virginia region, given it’s the data center capital of the world.
Now that we have a somewhat better understanding of how NOC techs are trained and recruited, what does a typical day look like for them?
A typical day in the NOC
NOC technicians essentially perform Tier 1 tech support, both for data center clients and internal employees. They troubleshoot everything from routine issues like forgotten passwords, email issues or other general IT help-desk requests to more serious incidents like outages, downed servers, other hardware failures and more.
That means frontline NOC techs need to have a wide breadth of technology know-how and experience. NOC techs are also often the first person a client calls, so the role requires a dedication to client service, patience and empathy. Ultimately, the NOC is a lifeline if clients don’t know who to call.
Many data center clients don't have people on-site — be it because of distance or many other reasons. So, NOC technicians often serve as remote hands and eyes for clients. They take care of everything from power cycling, racking servers and more.
If there's, say, an outage of any sort, a critical incident, or just a technical question anywhere, our team is responsible for managing the response. We triage the situation, and for the most part, our team can handle most requests before they cause major downtime issues for clients and employees.
However, sometimes an incident requires more specialized expertise. In the event of a major incident, we manage the critical response and remain the primary client and internal point-of-contact. This is one of the reasons that NOC techs need a wide breadth of knowledge. Not only do we need to know the basics of the problem, we need to recognize that it may require a higher degree of attention, as well as who within the company has the appropriate expertise to remediate the issue.
Once again, delivering this level of smooth and seamless service requires a team of highly client-focused individuals.
Ongoing training is a must
Technology is always in flux. And in order to provide the highest level of service possible, data center personnel need to be as current with skills and know-how as possible. Ongoing training is a must. It can take many forms, from training videos to thorough knowledge checks by supervisors. Beyond typical text based and video resources, we also make use of hands-on labs where technicians can learn physical skills like racking a server in a sandbox environment and troubleshooting connectivity issues.
First line of support
In many technology fields, the first point of contact is highly limited. Thanks to a superior education and continuous training, a NOC technician can troubleshoot a wider array of issues immediately.
NOC technicians at modern data centers are specially trained, essential personnel who deliver excellent customer service experiences. Most importantly, however, they act as speedy triage specialists, ensuring clients get the help they need as quickly as possible.