Navigate 2015 is just one month away! In preparation for the conference of the year, we've created a special Navigate series for MSPtv! This series features some of Navigate's key speakers who will share what to expect during their sessions. Continuing our MSPtv Navigate Special series, we have Devi Mazumdar, President of CMIT Solutions of San Antonio Northeast. Joining Devi is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management, Raymond Vrabel. Devi and Ray's session focuses on our Network Operations Center (NOC) and how you as an MSP can get the most out of it by using proven strategies and best practices. Tune in now!


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Episode Transcription: 

Scott: Hi folks, and welcome to MSPtv, a special series on profiling speakers from our 2015 Navigate Conference coming up at the end of September. With me here today is Ray Vrabel, our Director of Technical Account Management. Welcome Ray.

Ray: Thank you 

Scott: And also with us here to today via Skype is Devi Mazumdar, the CMIT Solutions of San Antonio Northeast. And Devi, how are you today?

Devi: I'm good. How are you?

Scott: Very well, thank you. So today I'd like to talk a little bit about what you and Devi are covering, which is working with the NOC. Many of our partners have had tremendous experiences, such as Devi, and others are still trying to find their way around. Could you give me a little bit of an overview about what your break-out session is going to be about?

Ray: Absolutely. So me and Devi are really going to cover working the NOC, best practices, the right communication channels, and Devi is really going to share her experiences, as she'll talk to you about. She's visited the NOC before, she's communicated with the team leaders there, she knows them on a first name basis, and how you really get the most out of your NOC engagement and leverage these technical resources you have.

Scott: That's really unique that, Devi, you've been able to visit the NOC a couple of times.

Devi: Yes, I have yes. It's in downtown Mumbai and I had the fortune of visiting them twice. That really helped put a face to the names that I've been so used to talking on the phone or chatting with them. For me, that solidified the relationship. Not to say that you have to visit Mumbai to work with the NOC, but there are other ways of making it really an extension of your team.

Scott: Maybe talk a little bit with Devi about how she's incorporated the NOC into her business and what sort of a difference it's made.

Ray: Sure. So Devi, maybe we can just discuss and share everyone how you've really leveraged the NOC in your company, how you've been so successful at it and trained up some of your employees. What's really been the core, the crux of that?

Devi: Right, so it started out by more a need than anything else. When I first started my business, I had a need to support a client that had a Cisco device that I didn't have trained staff to handle that. We had to do side-to-side VPN and the Cisco person that was on site was on vacation. He was not my tech but somebody I knew, but he was not available. So that's when I reached out to NOC. I think we were just having a conversation and one of the engineers said, "We can help you." So they worked overnight setting up a complex, from what I understand Cisco ASA Series are not easy to configure, and they helped us set up the site-to-site VPN. By morning it was working. And that's when it was an ah-ha moment for me and ever since then I've been working with NOC on some pretty complex projects.

Ray: I think it's an important take-away, Scott, when you look at how you leverage the NOC. It's not just in times of remediation, but they have such a broad skills set and they're going to give you that instant operational capacity so you don't have to pass up on projects you might not have the technical resources for. And so with the advanced technical resources team and the advanced technical services team over there, our server experts, they can take on those hard to reach projects you might not have the bandwidth, time, or expertise to fill.

Scott: Devi, how do you approach incorporating the NOC with the technicians in your office? How do you get those two teams to work together?

Devi: Right, so my techs are trained to chat with NOC just like every other CMIT business nationwide. We do chat with NOC, we know how to utilize TechAdvantage to take care of things that are overnight projects so my guys don't have to stay up at night cleaning up a desktop. We let NOC handle that. Ticket flow is very important, so when NOC creates a ticket, it's important for us to look at it, acknowledge it, and send it back to them. So there's a lot of work flow that needs to be understood in order to make it a seamless integration of your operations. So that's something I would love to talk more about at the convention 

Ray: Yeah, I think in our session, we're going to talk about how you've trained your employees, how you've really set the mindset, really. It's a mindset that this is an extension of your team and from the beginning you're setting those expectations, you're not working against each other, you're working together, I think goes a long way.

Devi: Exactly, exactly. It's very important for your techs to understand that they can get the job done much faster, more efficiently and better when they utilize NOC, as opposed to trying to take care of everything and project work. It's really about efficiency. It's really about service delivery. How can you maximize the skill sets available, NOC onsite support, helpdesk, and make your team work like a winning NFL team is what I can say about it.

Ray: Excellent. So would you say that it's fair to mention that your techs really become the quarterbacks, the project coordinators, that last mile? I think we talked about it.

Devi: Exactly, exactly. So you can think of NOC as the, I guess the linesman, and my onsite techs as the quarterback. That's exactly how it works. You have their support and then you make the touchdowns. So you really have to think in strategic ways to make sure that your company is one of the best. It's all about efficiency. It's all about utilizing resources without having to spend more than you need to. So it's efficiency in your operations, in your finances. So for me as a business owner it's all across the board. So I look at it from the perspective of a business owner, and it's a little different when you have to train your technicians who are not necessarily sitting in my position, but they are the techs delivering the service, so then it has to be a tag team approach when NOC drops off, they pick up the ball and run with it.

Ray: Yeah, that's an important point. It's not like every ticket is going to be a 100% completed by the NOC. In some cases, that project, we might do 80% and the partner might pick up the final 20%.

Scott: Devi, I understand that you take advantage of Elite Server Care for many of your end clients. Can you tell me about the differentiation with going that route?

Devi: Yes, I do and for me, I don't want to worry about a server in the middle of the night if something happens and it's not Elite Server Care then the onus is on me and my onsite techs to take care of that. I don't want to deal with that. So for me, NOC is 100% in charge of servers and Elite Server Care is the one that makes the most sense for me and I think to really efficiently utilize NOC's.

Scott: How has the adoption of the NOC with your technicians... Sometimes we have partners who the business owner is very enthusiastic about taking advantage of every opportunity available with the NOC but sometimes gets a little pushback from the technicians, because they think they're going to take things away. But has it opened up an opportunity for your technicians to be more client-focused and really managing?

Devi: Yes, absolutely. My team understands that they don't have all the expertise and in fact, now they know that they don't need to go and get the next Apple or whatever certification is out there, because NOC has us covered. So although I do encourage them to do the continuing learning, but if it's something to do with exchange server, they don't freak out because we know we have it covered, so we reach out the exchange team and they give us very, very good advice or support and that makes my team feel comfortable. So they don't feel pressured that, "Oh my god, how do we deal with this exchange server issue," because they're not trained and I don't expect them to be.

Ray: Yeah, and I would think that would only give not only a better quality of life to the tech, but also probably to a higher employee satisfaction with their jobs. They become more a NOC manager and they're not sitting there removing malware and antivirus all day.

Devi: Exactly, exactly. I agree.

Scott: That's great. Well, I think that many of us are looking forward to the discussion that you and Ray will have around working with the NOC. As a sort of closing statement, what would you say to someone who's interested or might be interested in attending your break-out session? What kinds of things would you be covering?

Devi: Yeah, I think it's really important to understand that we're dealing with real people at the other end of the telephone or our chat board. So sometimes it's important to get in their shoes and look at it from their perspective and not let the cultural barrier affect the communication you have with NOC. So for me, that is an important step to overcome, that is an important barrier to overcome, and once we understand that... To me it's a human element really. It's all about personality. If you can get along with somebody you've never seen, probably will never meet at the other end of the phone and really work as a team, it's beneficial to everybody.

Scott: Excellent. Well, thank you very much for your time today, and we're looking forward to your break-out session at Navigate.

Devi: Yeah, me too, thanks, Scott, and thanks, Ray. Talk to you.

Scott: Well, thanks again, Ray. I appreciate it. And folks, we hope you come back and see us again. We're going to have a few more speakers that will be presenting at Navigate and we look forward to seeing you there. Thank you.


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