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Ask an Expert: Bryan Collins

Jeff Loeb

This blog is part of a series where some of our most experienced technical and support team members share their IT experiences and the tips and tricks learned from working with hundreds of organizations and IT teams.  This blog post features Bryan Collins, one of Logically’s NOC Specialists. Bryan has extensive experience with documentation and reporting, maintaining network stability, and ticket management.

Q: What are some of your key job responsibilities?

As a NOC Specialist, my main responsibility is around back-end maintenance and maintaining uptime for our clients. I keep an eye on all the different things behind-the-scenes that makes systems work smoothly, like backups, anti-virus protection, patch management, and other monitoring tools. We’re constantly watching over servers and networks, and if any issues arise our team immediately troubleshoots them. We also hold a lot of responsibility around on-boarding clients. We work with the client to determine what the roll-out process will be for newly purchased services and help get their systems and networks ready for monitoring.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge your team is faced with?

In NOC, I’d say our biggest challenge would be the variety of different complications that we come across. Our team is responsible for several aspects of back-end maintenance, which can allow for a variety of issues and problems to appear. You need to be immersed in so many different technologies and nimble enough to switch gears from one problem to another on a wide scale. Just getting up to that technical level of knowledge to handle that spectrum of problems is something that we constantly need to improve on. At times, it feels like technology is growing faster than the industry can digest it, but it’s our job to make sure we’re on top of it.  

Q: How do you think technology will change over the next 5 years?

I think we’ll see an increase in usage. The overall growth in technology and IT has been exponential. People want more, and they want it to be faster, easier, and more reliable. Technology is developing at a rate that by the time a product even hits the market from development, it seems like it’s already outdated. I think that’s going to create major challenges for smaller Managed IT Service Providers, because it may increase at such a fast rate that it’ll be hard to keep up with it. Clients are going to demand more, and it’ll be up to us to keep up with the pace of demand. The sense of urgency will also be felt for our vendors, releasing more updates and new software and hardware. There’s going to be so many new products rolled out, and we’ll have to stay abreast of the learning and education that’ll go into each new release.

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen organizations make with their IT planning?

Because I’m involved with onboarding, I’d say the biggest issue is that many companies don’t have proper documentation and information on their systems. From a maintenance standpoint, when it comes time for us to work together, it saves us a lot of valuable time if we have all the information needed to facilitate monitoring correctly. There’s so much information we need, from IPs to passwords, and many companies may not understand the level of detail we need in the documentation to do our jobs properly. When we have all that information clearly stated, we can get into the network and decipher it as quick as possible so we can begin monitoring.

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a NOC Specialist?

Thinking back to when I first started, I wish I had a more comprehensive understanding about computer hardware. I started at a NOC, troubleshooting people’s home and business internet lines from the ISP out to their line. I was a technology guy going into the IT business, but I wouldn’t call myself an IT guy at that point in my life. I was constantly reading up on and engaging with technology, but I wasn’t someone that spent time taking apart and rebuilding computers in their free time. Some people have that passion, but at the time I didn’t. Networking can be standalone from IT in general, however just having a basic knowledge of what comes before and after would’ve really helped when I first began. Logically really encourages us to learn as much as we can and to sharpen our skills as much as we can, which helps us on the job a lot. But with technology complexity increasing and updates happening sooner, having a good understanding of computer hardware will go a long way in your career.