Integrated NOC and SOC

Today, the enterprise network topologies are becoming increasingly complex, a phenomenon that is exacerbated by an increasingly remote workforce, the extensive use of cloud applications, and a need for agile IT everywhere. At such an inflection point, it is natural for IT leaders to rethink the organization of their traditional Network Operations Center (NOC) and Security Operations Center (SOC).

As the dependency on networks becomes more and more mission-critical, the chances of severe cybersecurity incidents rise. Security can no longer be layered over like a shield; rather it should be a part of the network so that the networks can be both agile and secure. SASE and ZTNA are two architectures that are gaining steam as organizations seek to better secure their increasingly dispersed remote workforces against attack.

“The lines between them (SOC-NOC) are becoming increasingly unclear as more advanced cyberattacks tend to freely jump between attack surfaces of different IT equipment.”

   

Case for convergence to an Integrated NOC/SOC

While these two groups ultimately serve different functions for an enterprise, significant overlaps do exist and SOCs and NOCs will typically need to collaborate in the event of an incident or emergency. Both NOCs and SOCs have incident response teams, call centers and monitoring. Both centers work hard to assure the integrity and availability of enterprise IT assets. Yet, despite the somewhat symbiotic relationship, only a small percentage of enterprises truly integrate these functions. Recent trends in responsibilities handled by these seemingly disparate entities indicates to a convergence of the two groups. Let us examine a few.

Unified Cross-Domain Visibility

Unified operations allow NOC and SOC administrators to have visibility of both domains simultaneously, often getting a composite view of issues that would not have been historically possible in a siloed arrangement. This could allow deep-dive into either security or network issues from one interface and explore cross-domain incidents that involve both. Response times are lower when the entire operation is orchestrated and act as a single entity.

AIOps and Automation

with increasing amount of data at disposal, automation and artificial intelligence can play an ever-increasing role in managing security and network efficiency. With efficiently captured cleansed data, training threat detection and predictive network outage models can become easier, and this would give additional reinforcement to NOC and SOC teams that are continually pressed for resources.

Reduced Costs, Increased Resources, and Faster Response

Bad actors and networks have one thing in common; they operate around the clock. This means businesses need to have separate network and security facilities, tools, infrastructures, and people available 24/7 to ensure their networks and business remain safe and functional. By unifying security and network functions, duplicate costs are eliminated, and overlapped expenses are consolidated. A unified operation center also eliminates redundant tasks, coordinating disparate functions, along with independent reporting, budgeting, and compliance.

Realization

Theoretically, a convergence of NOC and SOC is quite a compelling argument. However, how do organizations carry out the actual implementation and ensure they accrue promised benefits? To do this, organizations should look at such an integration on three different levels.

Integrated NOC/SOC Framework

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Organizationally, a combined setup would prioritize cross-correlation of data that would help organizations identify threat and disruption patterns from shared NOC/SOC monitoring tools. Such contextually rich data would enable triage and collaboration among the entire NOC/SOC operations and increase the combined efficacy of the merged operation.

Secondly, integration must work at the systems level. This means that the previously drafted standard operating procedures (SOP) and service level agreements (SLA) must now reflect the joint responsibility of the NOC/SOC operations. A crucial part of this integration would be process reengineering that streamlines legacy processes to reduce redundancies rather than eliminating them and design an audit schedule for these processes.

“Integration of both (security and network) groups at the frontlines of defense in many organizations could potentially be the best way to lower costs, increase efficiency and optimize resources.”

Distributing it through integrated tools and dashboards. The unified team should carry no baggage of the legacy demarcation between NOC/SOC and the best way to ensure that is by assigning accountability per key performance indicator for each area respectively.

The most significant efficiency gains via the creation of an integrated NOC/SOC are typically felt in Tier 1 operations. And this is amplified when automation is strategically applied to highly repetitive processes. IT leaders could use this to prioritize the convergence process.

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