With new technological developments occurring every day, it is essential to stay on top of trends to continue improving your business by integrating new and potentially industry-changing technologies. With this in mind, we’ve decided to provide a quick rundown of a topic that has become increasingly prevalent recently – the Network Operations Center or NOC.
What is a Network Operations Center (NOC)?
Before diving into what a Network Operations Center is, we must first define a network operation. Network operation is a blanket term that refers to the activities performed by internal networking staff or third parties to monitor, manage, and respond to alerts relating to the network’s availability and performance. A network operations center is the centralized location where IT personnel carry out these tasks. The NOC oversees the following:
- Infrastructure and equipment from wiring to servers
- Wireless systems
- Databases & firewalls
- Various related network devices, including IoT devices and smartphones
- Dashboards and reporting
In terms of security, the NOC also serves as the first line of defense against network disruptions and failures, it can be equipped with different forms of authentication such as blockchain technologies to ensure operations are always secure and tamperproof.
Network management and performance monitoring tasks have never been harder to tackle as networks have continued to grow in complexity and sheer size over the past few decades. Now that networks span multiple countries and even continents with large percentages of employees working from home, effective and secure management of these networks is more critical than ever. A NOC provides the perfect solution to managing these increasingly complex networks by providing a location where IT personnel can monitor the performance and health around the clock without being anywhere near the site or machinery.
How does blockchain work?
When using blockchain technologies, any internet connection you start is distributed across numerous blocks – hence the name blockchain. These technologies process transactions by filtering them through multiple distributed peers who verify transactions via votes to ensure the correct data are stored and that authorized users have triggered the trade. In a blockchain, a consensus algorithm using a peer voting mechanism verifies each transaction independently. If a peer is unavailable or hacked, other peers simply step in and serve the request without interruption.
These incoming transactions and data transfers are then cryptographically stored in synchronized distributed ledgers. This unique feature makes a chain of encrypted blocks that is completely tamper-resistant, making it impossible to manipulate or decrypt data without a predefined smart contract with preprogrammed logic. Blockchain also allows security policies to be encoded into distributed intelligent agreements that can then be applied to the transactions as they occur. These policies protect expensive physical assets like batteries and personal data against cyber attacks.
What are the alternatives to a NOC?
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are a traditional option, introduced more than 30 years ago, that companies use to facilitate the transfer of data from individual users and components back to the company’s server. They create access to the internet through a point-to-point connection by creating an encrypted tunnel. This means the parts are connected directly to your company’s server and only have one layer – the network layer.
Although they are cheap and easy to install, they lack security, reliability, and scalability. In addition, these connections make enterprises more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches because of remote access to the organization’s entire internal network.
Another point of failure is the process of identifying user access and authentication. There is no segmentation or user control in VPNs. Hence, there is no traffic visibility, network segmentation or on-premises security. These technologies are not suitable for dynamic networks due to the large computer hardware requirement and ongoing management. This makes applications more complicated to scale and adjust to new users and network locations.
What are the advantages of a NOC?
A NOC is more secure, scalable, and reliable than traditional VPN solutions. Unlike a VPN, the NOC has three distinct layers: the application layer (software), the network layer (communication channel), and the physical layer (sensors). Compared to the single network layer of VPNs, NOCs offer heightened security and visibility regarding the traffic occurring on one’s network. This allows IT personnel to quickly identify dangers and risks to the network and resolve them efficiently.
What are the applications of a NOC?
Due to their flexibility, reliability and scalability, NOCs can be applied in many different industries. Most relevant to us here at Edgecom Energy is how these systems can be used in the energy industry. Here are a few examples of industrial areas where NOCs can be implemented:
- Decentralized generation
- EV charging
- Virtual power plants
- Grid and building management
Secured by a blockchain-based Internet of Things platform, Edgecom’s NOC has been designed to control Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and building management systems. There are three main aspects to run a NOC effectively:
- You must remotely connect and communicate with the asset securely and reliably
- Knowing how to communicate with each asset and, in turn, how to control it
- Most importantly, you must know how and when to dispatch each asset to optimize returns based on grid conditions and available programs. We call this market applications
Our blockchain technology securely communicates between assets in the NOC. Coupled with other tools like pTrack™, Edgecom’s NOC will be able to send peak alerts to your on-site assets, such as a building optimization system or battery system to optimize savings in real-time.