NOC vs Help Desk: What's the Difference?

Submitted by Erica Kastner on Tue, 12/ 10/ 19 - 12: 00 PM

What's the Difference Between a Help Desk and a NOC?


Who's there to help you when your network goes down or you're having trouble accessing your email? Depending on your company's needs, the answer could be a NOC or a help desk. The terms "help desk" and "Network Operations Center/NOC" may sound synonymous but in reality, minute differences between the two exist. Read on to discover some similarities and differences between help desks and NOC's so that you can find out which one better suits your business.

Quick summary: The difference between a NOC and a help desk is that help desks simply assist in managing end-user help requests, while NOC's do this and also proactively monitor your network to identify and resolve issues. For more information on each option and tips on which one to choose, keep reading!


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Help Desk: What Is It?

NOC: What Is It?

Which One Should I Choose?

Help Desk: What Is It?

What's the Difference Between a Help Desk and a NOC?

Picture a help desk as a typical customer service desk that your company can call into and simple issues resolved. For instance, when you're having trouble with your iPhone, you can call their customer service line to resolve simple issues.

Similar to this scenario, if your company pays an external help desk for its services, you can call to have simple issues such as password resets resolved. However, for any major issues, you may have to pay a break-fix company to resolve them. 

Unlike NOC's, help desks are not paid to constantly monitor your network for threats. They only really learn of and fix issues when you call in to report one.

RELATED: From Break-Fix to Managed Services: What's the Difference?

NOC: What Is It?

What's the Difference between a NOC and a Help Desk?

NOC's, also known as Network Operations Centers, take a more hands-on approach to protecting your network.

Network Operations Centers, also known as NOC's, are a tiered third-party IT team that offers comprehensive network protection services.

NOC's are typically employed by Managed Service Providers (MSP's) or integrated in-house within an MSP to efficiently manage clients' network security.

Network Operations Centers take proactive steps to manage clients' network security by implementing various layers of security hardware and software and monitoring them using a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solution.

While Network Operations Centers can be equipped to handle low-level network issues such as password resets, more complex issues such as disaster recovery and cyber breaches can be addressed as well.

NOC's typically solve network issues without the end user's involvement. If a NOC is working properly, the end user shouldn't notice issues such as prolonged downtime, malware, or poor network functionality.

Which One Should I Choose?

What's the Difference Between a NOC and a Help Desk?

Choose a help desk if:

You already have internal IT and just want a help desk to answer your employees' simple questions

Help desks are great for companies who already have some form of internal IT. Internal IT staff manage so many aspects of your network that they can constantly get sidetracked by employees asking for assistance fixing a simple issue. Help desks ease some of an internal IT employee's work burden.

Your internal IT staff's productivity is hindered 

If your internal IT team is becoming so caught up with helping other employees fix simple issues that they don't have time to sufficiently monitor and protect your network, that might be a clue that you should outsource part of your IT to a help desk.

Time that an internal IT team dedicates to helping other employees takes time away from updating and monitoring your network, which can potentially put you at risk of network breaches.

Your budget is smaller

If you have a tighter budget, you may benefit from a help desk over a NOC. Even if you have no internal IT staff, you can pay for an outsourced help desk to fix smaller issues, in turn leaving bigger issues up to break-fix companies.

Keep in mind, however, that costs for break-fix companies can quickly add up.


Choose a NOC if:

You cannot afford to experience network downtime

Businesses such as online retailers and law firms are known to operate outside of normal 9-5 Monday-Friday hours.

NOC's take proactive steps to minimize network downtime, which can be especially useful on crucial days like Black Friday. Businesses who experience downtime during crucial times may face steep downtime costs and productivity losses.

Even if your business wouldn't dramatically suffer from occasional network downtime, keep in mind that hackers know that not everybody has 24/7 IT support, which means they might think to take advantage of your network when it's least protected.

Keeping your network security on high alert 24/7 maximizes network functionality and keeps hackers at bay.

RELATED: How to Calculate Downtime Cost

Your in-house IT department needs assistance

In-house IT departments have so many tasks to complete that businesses may benefit from contracting out some of those low-level tasks to a third-party company.

While network monitoring is a task that is important for ensuring network health and security, there is no need to exhaust in-house IT departmental resources on this task, especially when there are other critical projects to be completed.

By letting a NOC handle network monitoring, an in-house IT department is freed up to complete other projects, such as upgrading your network or better positioning it for the future. 

You have little to no internal IT

If you have little or no fully dedicated IT staff then you are probably leaving the management of your network up to another employee with limited IT knowledge, such as an HR manager or a secretary. 

Leaving your network security up to an employee who isn't an IT professional puts your company's security at risk. By outsourcing the monitoring and management of your cyber security infrastructure to a NOC, this burden is taken off of internal employees and your network is better protected. 

RELATED: How to Choose a Managed Services Provider [12 Tips]

Though both terms sound similar, one may be a better fit for you based on your company's needs. If your company finds that a NOC may be a better fit, consider us.

As a managed IT services company, we use a tiered NOC to ensure that our customers' cyber security infrastructures are operating smoothly.

Even if you are a larger organization with some internal IT, we can also serve as simply a help desk to minimize the strain on internal IT staff. Cyber threats are stronger than ever. Don't wait to upgrade your cyber security.

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Posted by Erica Kastner


cyber security solutions, cyber security solutions for small business