Monitoring is not enough, hence the Global Operation Center
An interview with Krzysztof Korski, Global Operations Center Director
How would you describe the GOC and its role?
The Comarch Global Operations Center (known as the GOC) is a solution we have developed to meet the expectations of our clients and the needs of modern IT environments. It’s not just a team of engineers responsible for providing monitoring services in the area of applications, networks and security, but also an exceptional operations center that supervises the activities of an IT infrastructure dispersed across nearly all continents. As the first line of support, the GOC is active 24/7 and provides single-point-of-contact services, cooperates with other technical support teams, responds to alerts and anomalies, and manages tickets to ensure compliance with parameters specified in the service level agreement (SLA). As a name, “GOC” consists of three key words:
- Global – the word describes the global reach and the holistic approach to infrastructure monitoring, ranging from networks and daily maintenance, all the way to security issues, i.e. security breach prevention, detection, and response,
- Operations – the word describes all the actions related to monitoring, incident response, alert handling, communication with clients, escalations and reporting,
- Center – the word highlights the central role of the “command center” (also referred to as the “operations bridge”), which provides the continual monitoring and maintenance services to ensure compliance with SLAs.
Our mission is to deliver professional and timely services to all clients.
What are the benefits for the clients?
There are plenty of advantages, but let’s start from the beginning. What sets us apart from our competitors is our highly personalized approach to our clients and their business. This may sound like a cliché but it really is our hallmark. At Comarch, clients name the terms and define their expectations early on, at the needs analysis stage. In our turn, we share our expertise during initial talks and suggest specific solutions based on our experience of previous implementations. This helps us lay the foundations for future, frequently long-term, cooperation. This tailored approach does not stop once the agreement is signed. We maintain a close cooperation with the client until the contract expires and, in some cases, even longer than that. Over that time, the client benefits not only from our services but also from the know-how we have accumulated over many years. In the long-term perspective, this approach allows us to cement business relations and often expand our cooperation to provide additional services.
This partnership benefits all parties: not only our clients, but also our engineers, who get a chance to enhance their skills, as well as Comarch in general. Our clients get access to highly-qualified personnel at attractive market rates, and take advantage of cutting-edge tools and methods, which allows them to focus on their main business activity.
How has the GOC changed in recent years?
Initially, our team carried out tasks typical of any NOC (Network Operations Center). In the meantime, we began to expand our services and soon launched application support within the framework of the GOC. We have a close cooperation with SOC (Security Operations Center) as the first line of support of Comarch’s ICT security team. We monitor infrastructure nodes in terms of their availability, performance, capacity and security. Dedicated service desk teams, monitor and respond to any security breaches and other anomalies. To manage them, GOC engineers follow incident models (operation guides). This makes our work standardized and efficient. GOC also uses an advanced Knowledge Base which is a powerful tool to exchange knowledge, tips and insights. In order to streamline our work, we are migrating our dispersed ticketing systems to a central ticketing system that operates on an efficient and redundant platform. Comarch consistently works to introduce enhancements and innovations.
How has the widespread use of the cloud affected the GOC?
Several years ago, for many people, cloud solutions were still a technological novelty and somewhat futuristic. This future is happening today. In recent years, Comarch has built its own cloud (Comarch Infraspace Cloud) and continued to develop its functionalities and make them widely available. Today, the GOC uses these solutions in the area of event correlation for incidents detected by the monitoring systems, which allows us to avoid duplicate incident tickets and thus improve the ticket handling productivity.
The modern loyalty systems offered by Comarch are already located in the cloud environment. The cloud makes it easier to create a new environment, configure resources and modify them according to our preferences. And all this can be done through a simple web browser, quickly, easily, in a user-friendly way.
What is the future of the services provided by the GOC?
I think we will keep up the GOC monitoring services that I talked about before, since they are fundamental. But in the future we might employ artificial intelligence or machine learning to better understand the context of incoming alerts. This would bolster our problem management processes and further improve our corrective actions. We will probably need to implement increasingly more efficient and demanding automated solutions. It is important to understand that it may be potentially risky to believe that the automaton will never make a mistake. All solutions of this kind require some human attention, monitoring and maintenance, but I believe that with time we will be able to put our faith in automated solutions to a much greater degree and entrust them with more complex tasks.
A lot of the tasks at the GOC are rather repetitive. Many, however, require a customized approach and corrective measures adapted to a specific case. Other tasks will be automated as a function of our needs and available tools. Despite many modern solutions that facilitate work, our engineers will remain crucial for the entire customer service process.
Is it really a good idea to turn to a specialized external company for these services?
You might have many doubts about outsourcing services to another provider. Initially, you really can’t be sure whether the company you are planning to work with has the appropriate background to provide required services, or whether it has the necessary tools, methodology and well-trained staff to do so. In our case, however, you can easily verify our credentials by visiting the Comarch campus in Kraków, where you can talk with our engineers and discuss the terms of the project, as well as the principles of project cooperation and communication. We can also deliver references from other clients and present our certificates.
In order to choose an external company, you need to carry out in-depth analysis and answer the following questions:
- How much does our company pay for the services that we want to outsource to an external company?
- What are the costs of hiring a competent in-house specialist, compared to the costs of hiring out of house?
- Can the external company provide the same services at a cheaper price and at a comparable or higher quality?
- Are the outsourced services scalable, for example in the case of further company growth in successive periods?
- Does the nature of our business allow the services to be outsourced gradually and only entrust the external company with more services once it has been tested?
This will be a banal example, but if, for example, we want to restore or redo our apartment or fix our car, we can do so on our own or hire a team that has the relevant experience, knowledge and tools. If we decide to go for it alone, we may take more time but save money. But we should also pay attention to quality. If we outsource some services to an external company, we have a lot to gain, such as a guaranteed service quality defined in the SLA; we don’t need to handle HR issues such as recruitment or rotation, and, most importantly, we can focus on our business.
Before we decide to outsource certain tasks, we need to take a pragmatic approach, be open to new solutions and carry out rational analysis to adequately address all needs.
Today, it is difficult to succeed if you rely only on in-house resources. I believe that the key to the future lies in well-conceived cooperation between various companies. This approach allows us to develop targeted measures to fully meet clients’ expectations.