If you hear those around you referring to the OneNet heroes, there is a good chance they are talking about the guys from the network operations center (NOC). They work day in and day out to monitor circuits, design the network and service new circuits; there truly isn’t anything they can’t do. Maybe that is because, according to NOC Engineer Sean Carr, “There literally isn’t anything we won’t do.”
Going above and beyond is what the NOC is known for.
“Whether it is our biggest customer or smallest, we will do the same amount of hard work to meet customer’s needs,” said NOC Senior Network Engineer Andrew Laubach.
This mentality of going above and beyond for customers is something that comes straight from the top. All of the engineers attributed their desire to exceed customer expectations to Robert Nordmark, the director of the network operations center.
“It was around 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, and I had just started working here,” Carr said. “I was having difficulty properly addressing a customer’s issue over the phone. The customer was three hours away from us, but Robert led the charge for the team to get in the car, and we all went to fix their issue in person immediately. That is the leadership we have here.”
Another NOC engineer, Sky Pettett, commented that it is not hard to go above and beyond when you love what you do.
“Often times we will fix problems for customers that have nothing to do with their OneNet services,” Pettett said. “We are passionate about solving problems and about helping the organizations we serve.”
The NOC team says they are also encouraged by NOC Director Robert Nordmark and OneNet Executive Director Von Royal to broaden their horizons. Due to OneNet’s leadership and OneNet’s recognition as a research and education network (REN), the team says they feel a sense of creative freedom to discover new technology. They attend trainings, do a lot of reading and discuss new technology as a team, which allows them to stay on the cutting edge and be able to best address customers’ needs.
OneNet relies on the NOC, because all of our services rely on connectivity. The NOC is quite literally the brains behind the operations, and providing such excellent service to customers is no small task. The NOC engineers design the network for reliability and availability. This is achieved due to redundancy. This means that nearly every site has battery backups, generator backups and multiple fiber paths. This is essential, because if power is lost, there is a backup, and if a fiber is cut, connectivity will simultaneously switch to another fiber path.
“When we design the network, our primary goal is to create a network design that our customers can depend on for a reliable, available connection,” Nordmark said. “Providing reliable connectivity is vital in helping our customers fulfill their missions and provide exceptional service to those they serve.”
Another way the NOC delivers reliability to OneNet customers is through live-person assistance. Members of the NOC think this is valued by OneNet customers, because it gives customers comfort and a “one-on-one personal relationship that does not exist other places.” Pettett said people can call and ask for engineers by name, and they won’t get a new person on the phone each time they call OneNet. Additionally, live-person assistance allows the NOC to better address issues.
“We can infer things that make the process faster for the customer,” Pettett said.
A typical day never looks the same for any member of the NOC team. They say that it is because no two processes are the same.
“Each customer we work with is set up differently for better or worse,” Carr said.
This can make addressing issues difficult and stressful. However, like true heroes, you will never see the members of the NOC team sweat. They chalk it up to the comradery of the team.
“We all get along really well,” Pettett said. “We respect and trust each other. Plus, many projects are too big to handle on your own, so you get used to working together a lot.”
The guys say that a little stress is worth the reward of seeing customers satisfied. They feel good knowing that people all across the state are benefitting from the work they do. Carr shared the example of providing faster Internet for elementary schools.
“It’s a cool feeling knowing that you have fixed an issue quickly and that the school is happy,” he said. “Faster Internet is making a positive impact. Just think, kids’ teachers can now connect them to the Eiffel tower or to places all around the world.”
The NOC guys were asked what message they would want to communicate with all OneNet customers if given the chance. Nordmark immediately responded with gratitude.
“Thank you for your continued support and the opportunity to serve you.”
Story by Jessica Freeman, Strategic Planning and Communications Intern Summer 2015