noc vs soc

NOC vs SOC: What’s the Difference?

6 Minute Read

In the vast world of cybersecurity, terms often overlap, and it’s easy to blur the lines between them. You’ve likely encountered the terms NOC and SOC, and maybe you’ve even thought of them as interchangeable buzzwords. But they’re not, each of them have their own roles and responsibilities within organizations. 

Should your organization have a NOC or SOC? How can your organization integrate both the NOC and SOC? Let’s dig deeper into both of these components, unraveling their similarities and differences. But more importantly, we’ll explore how they influence decision-making and the overall operations of organizations.

What is a Network Operations Center (NOC)?

At its core, a Network Operations Center (NOC) is the heartbeat of efficient network operations, ensuring optimal performance 24/7. It takes charge of managing and maintaining network systems, devices, and technological infrastructures.

Types of NOCs

The network security operations center in cybersecurity varies according to how it’s implemented by the organization. After a detailed cost-benefit analysis, companies are bound to choose from the two types of NOCs:

  • In-house NOCs: Some companies prefer to handle the administration of networks directly. In-house NOCs oversee the network operation by allocating an internal team. With this, organizations spend additional resources and costs to have full control of the networks.
  • Outsourced NOCs: Another option for network management is hiring a vendor to supervise network operations. Outsourcing a NOC means there’s no need to hire internal employees. This gives companies a broader scope of talents for a specific function. More so, outsourced NOCs allow the organization to prioritize core business objectives.

The Benefits of NOCs

As the mainstay of the network operation, NOCs covers a wide range of benefits, including:

1. Seamless Network Operations 

NOCs focus on the core network capabilities, from installing software to troubleshooting system issues. It ensures uninterrupted service through a unified administration of networks and devices.

2. Minimal Downtime 

NOCs provide a wide-range of capabilities, including specific functions, continuous network supervision, and quick resolution of incidents. As a result, it minimizes downtime in case of network issues.  

3. Security Across the Network 

NOCs work hand in hand with the SOC team to protect the network from breaches. NOCs regulate firewalls and other related security features.

4. Data Protection

In relation to security operations, a NOC contributes to data protection. It makes use of key security techniques to defend network assets against threats.

5. Better Delegation of Tasks: 

As companies create a dedicated team to work on network functions and obstacles, it leads to a more streamlined organization. In this sense, companies can achieve other key goals.

Top NOC Challenges

Network operations is a multifaceted area that encompasses both benefits and challenges. Here are a few of the challenges surrounding NOCs:

  • Staffing complexities and retention
  • Collaboration issues across members and other teams
  • Extensive documentation of network
  • Untimely shift to cloud computing and hybrid setups
  • Automation and orchestration problems
  • Volatility of artificial intelligence
  • Additional operational costs

Building and Operating a Network Operations Center

Establishing a NOC is a substantial investment that requires resources ― both people and tools. Companies need to decide first whether they employ a team directly from their institution or delegate tasks to a relevant provider. Once set, you then can build an effective NOC.

If the organization opts for in-house, setting a budget and hiring employees are two pivotal factors. It’s important to create a budget that fits the operational structure and define the core designations and responsibilities of the NOC team.

On the contrary, companies that outsource NOC services are given more leeway, especially with the management of the team. Third-party NOC providers work on complex processes, including onboarding, to ensure a seamless NOC incorporation.

Network Operations Center Best Practices

While NOCs are generally a complex section, you can run an optimal NOC team by integrating best practices, including:

  • Creation of clear goals
  • Set of proactive solutions
  • Right technology and tools
  • Systematic training program
  • Regular skill development
  • Collaborative support and communication
  • Continuous network management and monitoring
  • Proper documentation and reporting

What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

More often than not, the fine line between NOC and SOC becomes blurred, and these two teams become one. While there are similarities, SOC comes with distinct features that make it another relevant fragment of an IT or security organization.

SOC is mainly responsible for the protection against threats and different types of cyber security attacks. One of the noteworthy elements of SOC is the application of incident detection, response and analysis.

The Relationship Between NOC and SOC

NOC and SOC are two substantial teams in IT operations. Both share a series of similar objectives, including the continuous management and monitoring of services as well as the recovery in case of problems.

They also meet in terms of tools used such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and vulnerability scanners. However, they significantly differ in their main goal. NOC revolves around the ins and outs of IT infrastructure, while SOC is more on the security of the organization.

NOC and SOC: Their Roles and Responsibilities

Since NOC and SOC have overlapping functions, it’s essential to be able to distinguish their main scope.

Network Operations Center Roles and Responsibilities

  • Network installation and management
  • Data access and availability
  • Software application and server monitoring
  • Endpoints and cloud environment administration
  • Server maintenance
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery

Security Operations Center (SOC) Roles and Responsibilities

  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Threat detection
  • Security installation and management
  • Incident response and recovery
  • Forensic analysis

NOC vs SOC: Key Distinctions 

ObjectiveEnsures seamless and efficient network operationsProtects networks and overall infrastructure
ScopeNetwork, software, and hardwareSecurity infrastructure
Primary focusNatural network disruptions like power outagesHuman-driven interruptions, such as cyberattacks
FunctionConsistent monitoringComprehensive investigation
Data usageDocumentation, reporting, and recommendationResearch, analysis, and mitigation
Required skill setAdeptness in network and endpoint optimizationProficiency in network security and resiliency

To Merge or Not to Merge: NOC and SOC Integration

The question arises: should NOC and SOC be combined? 

Pros of NOC + SOC

  • Lower operating costs
  • Minimal staffing and onboarding
  • More streamlined operation

Cons of NOC + SOC

  • Distinct end goals
  • Certain functions designed for NOC or SOC only
  • Challenges in continuous monitoring and availability

Factors to Consider in NOC and SOC Integration

Although NOC and SOC services are generally distinctive, there are some companies that opt to integrate the two. Reasons often include budget constraints and staff restrictions, which may be prevalent among small and midsize businesses.

In this case, it’s crucial to fully understand the difference between NOC and SOC. Essential factors that you need to consider before merging the two operations include:

  • Fundamentally different objectives: NOC gives importance to network connectivity and regulation time. SOC, on the other hand, puts effort into handling cyberattacks. At its core, each center works collaboratively but functions differently. That’s why it’s a must to determine the capabilities where both NOC and SOC overlap. From there, create processes that address the main duties of network management and security administration.
  • Cross-team capabilities: Since only one team will be working on the NOC and SOC services, it’s critical to evaluate the ability of the team to handle a more extensive scope of responsibilities. This leads to another challenge, which is choosing the right set of professionals.
  • Extra load of tasks: With only one team to work on major network and security functions, this can have a negative bearing on the staff. The added load can further affect employee satisfaction and retention in the long run.
  • Overall processing time: Because of the integration of functions ― both similar and distinct ― there might be an impact on the lead times. There might be faster remediation on some tasks while others may take some time to be completed.
  • Communication challenges: The broader control processes can cause communication issues across the team. For this reason, it’s vital to establish the scope and delegate tasks accordingly.
  • Selection of common tools: Integrating two teams reduces the costs of resources. However, the challenge lies in the selection of the toolsets. Invest in powerful resources that are relevant to both NOC and SOC. Choose a reliable platform that extends visibility and actionability in network operation and security infrastructure.  

The Transition from NOC to SOC

Another option that is gaining traction among IT organizations is the modernization of NOC into SOC. This approach is the same as integrating both NOC and SOC but from a different lens.

In general, this might be tough for most companies, where networks and security have a specific set of objectives and functions. However, when automation is integrated into the entire security organization, the transition from NOC to SOC becomes manageable as well as preferable. Automation simplifies all manual tasks and repetitive functions. It further improves the turnaround time when responding to network issues and security threats.

Elevate Your NOC and SOC with Swimlane

In the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the choice between NOC and SOC, integration or transition, holds significant weight. For those seeking optimization in network and security infrastructure, Swimlane offers a solution that automates manual tasks associated with use cases inside and outside of the SOC, unifies workflows, and provides automation for the entire organization. As leaders in security automation, Swimlane enhances key operations, ensuring network and security protection alongside continuous compliance.

Integrating an AI enabled low-code security automation platform like Swimlane Turbine, empowers the entire organization to use automation. Our low-code approach is the sweet spot: It’s powerful enough to automate anything, yet easy enough for anyone to use.

Top 13 Automation Use Cases for Your SOC and Beyond

Did someone say Automation Beyond the SOC? Yes, you heard that right! As attacks become more frequent and sophisticated, security teams require automation to mitigate alerts, unify telemetry sources, and enhance overall SecOps effectiveness. Automating use cases within and beyond the SOC helps organizations keep up with alerts and maximize their return on investment (ROI) for all their security technologies.


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