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What Would You Like to See in an Ops Center?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the visual-and-functional-improvements dept.

Technology 128

binaryspiral asks: "I work in a network operations center that has a fair amount of tours and escorted customer traffic. We (the ops employees) have been given the option of submitting ideas for a redesign that would upgrade our ops center to something more functional and visually impressive to potential customers who visit. I'm also looking into software applications that monitor our systems and put them on large displays but a lot of it looks ho-hum. Unfortunately, one of the criteria is that this redesign be functional and visually appealing. I would ask the Slashdor crowd to share with me the things you hate or love about your ops center. Any suggestions or ideas from this crowd might actually be what I'm looking for!"

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lots of flashing shit (1)

briancurtin (901109) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402700)

all sorts of graphs, numbers, all of that. customers love to see that stuff

Re:lots of flashing shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13404979)

htop running on a water-display [hgb-leipzig.de]

Big Red Button (3, Insightful)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402703)

A big red button near the door, uncovered, and at the right height for a twelve yo to punch. The real question would be wether or not to hook the halon up to it. :)

Really, other than software, I'd suggest a good look at layout; are the work areas separate from the racks, perhaps even a separate area for 'problem' servers? Is there a good size parts room (perhaps off the 'beaten path'). Can you keep people away from the cabinets by having large windows to view the 'magic area'. Nothing says 'professional' like all LCD monitors (dual is better).

Just don't let them forget the break room and the bathrooms. Also be sure to have plenty of cameras For a touch of fun, you could install UV lighting, and reactive cables. Taking another page from the case mode handbook, liquid cooling might really 'wow' them.

Re:Big Red Button (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402824)

dual monitor idea heartily seconded

make sure you use xinerama or the nvidia equivalent, so people can drag one window across both screens; people love doing that at first.

Re:Big Red Button (1)

dratox (894948) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403178)

Also, the dual monitors should be mounted on a pole that comes down from the ceiling with telescopic arms.

Just for anded impracticality, and added awesomeness, add some touchscreens with a pointless but sci-fi looking interface (LCARS, anyone?)

Re:Big Red Button (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405692)

Have a look around the Accenture Technology Labs, they have some pretty nifty large-screen displays which are robust, reasonably cheap (for an ops centre), very useful, and pretty damn cool.

As an ops centre, having visibility over what people are doing/monitoring is probably something you want, especially in crisis situations.

Daniel

Re:Big Red Button (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402840)

Halon?

When I went on the 'family tour' of an IBM Facility in the early 70's, they told us the 'big red button' would immediately cut all power to the system. And that it would burn up as a result since the cooling system would power down as well.

Re:Big Red Button (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403031)

Yep,

we had the power off button, safety feature in case of a coolant leak. Great fun when half way through the days trading some dofus hit it. How fast can you bring up a machine that uses punch cards and reel to reel tape to loading the firmware to the disk drives so that we can then take the 15mins to ipl :-) All the while the dealers were watching the boards to see how much money they were losing/gaining :-)

Re:Big Red Button (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404281)

'big red button'

a.k.a. the Big Red Switch.

On the box in our shop, it was the side of the main unit. Pressing it shot a bolt of aluminum[0] thru the main power cables, smashing the power unit. The box went down, quickly and hard[1], but the electricity was cut so totally (remember, this was in the early 1980s, and IBM mainframes were big and used lots of KW of electricity) that there was no possibility of electrical fires if water got in the units.

It goes without saying that anyone who ever pushed the BRS without a damned good reason was instantly fired.

[0] I asked why it fired a conductive bolt, but don't remember the answer.
[1] The field engineer(s) would have to do major (days long) surgery on it before it would come up.

Re:Big Red Button (1)

cecille (583022) | more than 9 years ago | (#13407180)

Back when I was in school we had labs with big red buttons like this (I think most labs do). Push the button and all the power to the lab is cut. It really wasn't hard to reset (nothing like the parent's system), but push it at the wrong time (friday night) and you could wait days for the lab to come back up (monday morning when the tech came in and reset it). The buttons were highly visible so that people could get to them / see them in an emergency, but it also meant they were easy to push.

Anyway, this one time we were in the lab, working on one of our labs for class, which was clearly designed by a man who had not actually done the lab (it was set up as a do this one thing for 5 sensors for 10 different trials on these 5 different surfaces for 3 different angles in 10 different lighting conditions plus some other stuff - if you actually did all the trials as requested, even if you worked all day every day there wouldn't be enough time from the time it was assigned to the time it was to be handed in). Anyway, we'd finally got a respectable sample, but it had taken 3 full nights in the lab to get them done. I had been working for about 4 hours on these graphs, which WERE saved on the computer in a big matlab file. Just as I'm doing a save to the network drive, this moron walks into the room and leans right on the button. Power goes off. When it comes back up the file was wiped off the hard drive (computers wiped every reboot) and the network version had been totally corrupted by the failed save.

I was halfway to tears, but the words that were coming out of my mouth more indicated extreem anger (I would have made a sailor blush). He just backed away and went out the door and I didn't see him in the lab for a good three days.

Re:Big Red Button (2, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403176)

Remember this isn't a datacenter - it's an operations center I'm speaking about. Our DC is currently very well taken care of, we just need our Ops center to meet that level.

We all are based on Thinkpad Laptops with 17" secondary LCDs and docking stations.

Oh, and by code there are big red buttons on every exit from the DC (covered with acrylic break away covers)... it kills the power to all racks instantly. Don't even joke about pushing it...

Re:Big Red Button (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404345)

We all are based on Thinkpad Laptops with 17" secondary LCDs and docking stations.

Do you really need laptops ? I ask because when I started at my current job, they offered to get me a laptop (with an external LCD) "like everyone else". Since the job didn't require any on-the-road work, I asked why "everyone" had laptops. "The just do" was the response. Now, having been there a few months and not seeing a single laptop ever leave it's docking station in that time, I just wonder why "everyone" wants laptops.

Since then, I've not once regretted getting the dual-CPU PC with SCSI RAID, 2GB RAM and dual 21" LCDs instead :).

Re:Big Red Button (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404553)

Remember this isn't a datacenter - it's an operations center I'm speaking about.

How about upgrading the unix skills of the monkeys who go out to your cabinets for reboots? You know how hard it is trying to tell them to type '/usr/local/sbin' over a staticky cell phone when they don't have a clue what 'usr' is? I've been involved with four DCs in the last 5 years and it's all the same. I am sick of driving out to the data center at 3 am and seeing something like /sbin/fsck-y / on the console. "It says 'command not found'", they say. "Really???", I say. "This server must be fucked," I think to myself. Oh, wait, there is no command called fsck-y, it's fsck space dash y.

Oh, wait, nevermind. I'm already a customer. You don't have to impress me. Sorry for the rant and mod me down, but I just went through this shit with Internap (Fischer Plaza, the very data center with the big red button that was pushed) just a few weeks ago.

Re:Big Red Button (1)

sbryant (93075) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405483)

Just don't forget to put the big red button behind the door, so that when somebody rushes in and gives the door a hard shove....

Sound funny? It wasn't that funny when the all the servers suddenly got turned off at HP in Böblingen. They've since moved the button.

Back to the original topic: HP OpenView can display the status of lots of machines simultaneously. That looks quite nice, but the display also has to be somewhere where the ops people can see it too.

-- Steve

Das Blinkenlights (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402709)

What more can I say?

Re:Das Blinkenlights (1)

hedronist (233240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402876)

Absolutely! Most server racks these days are booooring. You want blinkenlights? You want a DEC KA-10 with a BBN pager. http://www.opost.com/tenex/kapix.html [opost.com] All of those panels at the tops of the boxes were just filled mit der lovely blinkenlights. Combined with an IMP (http://www.livinginternet.com/g/kleinrock_imp3.jp g [livinginternet.com] ) and a little Maui Wowie, you could have a pretty good night debugging.

On an only-slightly-less-serious note, I would love to have something that plugs into a USB port (or something) and that has lots of nice blinkenlights that are somehow related to what the system is doing.

Re:Das Blinkenlights (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403292)

I built this years ago (RS232, not USB) for a PIC uC. It's not hard to build from a large pic. We had 30 LEDs blinking on it.

Re:Das Blinkenlights (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404354)

http://www.opost.com/tenex/x118-27-modems.jpg [opost.com]

Ah, acoustic modems. 110 baud, from the look of them. Makes me a bit misty-eyed, remembering them.

Then I actually *do* remember them, and what a PITA they were, and how glad I was to get a direct-connect modem.

Das Blinkenlights-Classy Chassis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13404886)

"Absolutely! Most server racks these days are booooring."

Maybe they should take a cue from fine audio equipment manufacturers. Elegent and understated.

Re:Das Blinkenlights (4, Funny)

hardlined (785357) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403053)

ACHTUNG!!!

Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und corkenpoppen mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pockets. Relaxen und vatch das blinkenlights!!!

- Courtesy of BSD Forunte :-)

Re:Das Blinkenlights (3, Funny)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405222)

Good lord, if I only had mod points.

ACHTUNG - ALLES LOOKENPEEPERS

Das Machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren musten keepen das cotten-pickenen hands in das pockets - relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.

The above was apparently based on the following, original version, from the early 1960s:

Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das machinkontrol is nicht for gefengerpoken und mittengrabben. Oderwise is easy schnappen der springenverk, blowenfus, undpoppencorken mit spitzensparken. Der machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur geverken by das dumpkopfen. Das rubber necken sightseenen keepen das cotton-picken hands in das pockets. So relaxen, und vatchen das blinkenlights.

And here's the phony-English version the Germans use:

This room is fullfilled mit special electronische equipment. Fingergrabbing and pressing the knoeppkes from the computers is allowed for die experts only! So all the "lefthanders" stay away and do not disturben the brainstorming von here working intelligences. Otherwise you will be outthrown and kicked anderswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished the blinkenlights.

Of course, this warning would not be complete without the Internet version:

Das Internet is nicht fuer gefingerclickend und giffengrabben. Ist easy droppenpacket der Routers und overloaden der Backbone mit der spammen und der me-tooen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei die Dummkopfen. Die mausklicken Sichtseeren keepen das Bandwidth-spewen Hands in die Pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das cursorblinken.

Finally, the Palm Pilot version:

Das PalmPilot ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy scratch der Screene, zappen RAM, und droppen-smashen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das Dummkopfen. Das rubber-necken Sichtseeren keep die Hands in die Pockets -- relaxen und watchen Das Blinkenlights.

Re:Das Blinkenlights (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403203)

The XServe has my vote as the sexiest rack mount server, but I'm not physically exposed to server hardware too often. Are there any other superslick servers out there?

superslick servers out there? (1)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403403)

Dunno about server, but I was wondering about a new desktop...
http://www.orionmulti.com/products/specs_ds96 [orionmulti.com]
- Performance 230 GFlop peak, 110 GFlop sustained (Linpack) -

What else ??? ah, yes, an ugly as hell server I wouldn't mind this winter : http://www.iwill.net/product_2.asp?p_id=90 [iwill.net]
Dunno if many people are into rack server modding, but you cannot make it more ugly than it is on the outside....

The inside can host 16 Opteron 800 cores and 128Gig of Ram, which make it pretty hot - both senses.....

For the Network War room, what about a nice visual representation of network attacks/activity, using "The Spinning Cube of Imminent Doom" which is both impressive and easy to explain...:
http://www.nersc.gov/nusers/security/TheSpinningCu be.php [nersc.gov]
(maintenance of servers going on, use the cache, luke... [64.233.161.104]

Personnaly I like people that forego LCDs and such and directly use a nice and silencious video projector for general informations (say a Sanyo Z3).
Even more if you show your skills at system management using "Doom, the Aftermath"http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/doom /after.html [unm.edu]

Yeah, follow my words, I can garantee your customers will be impressed 8)

Impressions. (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402724)

A series of giant translucent displays hanging from the ceiling like giant columns throughout the NOC that show three-dimensional renderings of everything that is occuring on the network at the moment, like in the movie Hackers. Also, at least one of your main guys in the NOC should wear all black, have funky hair and carry a skateboard around with him through the office. Also, liberally spread around a few terminals. Most important of all, have a couple geeky/emo looking trogs arguing about RISC architecture off in some corner of the room, rather loudly. Follow my suggestions and you will not fail to impress!

Re:Impressions. (1)

danielrose (460523) | more than 9 years ago | (#13407571)

and those kick ass keyboards from the noc in hackers that look cool

Slashdor (1)

h8mE (748976) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402734)

go slashdor!

Ambient Devices Orbs (2, Interesting)

PylonHead (61401) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402743)

I think a bunch of these [ambientdevices.com] in some systematic display would be pretty awesome. Maybe they pulse green slowly when things are good, and flash red when all hell is loose.

Re:Ambient Devices Orbs (1)

Ed Thomson (704721) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405769)

BREASTS, everyone wants to see breasts.

Re:Ambient Devices Orbs (1)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406688)

Chances are good that with a set up like this, some boneheaded upper-level management person will force you to make sure they always glow green when customers are around.

me? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13402759)

what would you like to see

visually

large displays

visually appealing


Boobies, of course.

Show porn!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13402779)

That will impress them! Especially as your bosses don't want to seem to impress them with the fact that you're all working hard.

Yes, please go ask on "Slashdor"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13402799)

...and leave us out of your idiotic questions.

What every NOC needs (3, Interesting)

GryMor (88799) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402845)

A low yield fusion weapon to make raiding the NOC a bad idea. Only helps if everyone has one, should disuade invasion by hostile forces.

Re:What every NOC needs (3, Funny)

Keruo (771880) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402884)

oh, I thought Cisco networks were self defending :P

Re:What every NOC needs (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405098)

Voice controlled I hope? "Computer. Activate self destruct. 15min. silent countdown."

I want DATA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13402856)

No, not information, but Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I always expecct to see Data at ops.

Tell them thanks but no thanks. (2, Insightful)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402873)

Since you seem to be having trouble coming up with general areas in which you want improvement the obvious answer is to tell them that you are doing as well as you can given the current state of technology and notning should be done. Your customers and shareholders will thank you.

Re:Tell them thanks but no thanks. (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402906)

and if you do go for the new setup, i would certainly recommend stressing functionality over appearance wherever possible.

as for an easy way to make it look awesome, just make sure people can see neatly organized bundles of cable and lots of them. works for me every time

Re:Tell them thanks but no thanks. (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402917)

or i should say works on me every time, i only do networking stuff at home, and it's sufficient, but nothing stunning.

Re:Tell them thanks but no thanks. (5, Interesting)

toddbu (748790) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402982)

I once was told that the best way to scare away a venture capitalist is to invite them to your posh office and serve them a catered lunch. Most VCs are bottom line folks and understand that any money spent on flashy stuff is just wasted cash. The same can be true of your customers - they'd rather get good service than see a cool data center.

Re:Tell them thanks but no thanks. (1)

speleo (61031) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404642)

Well said.

Every company that I've seen actually do something like this went out of business shortly thereafter.

What sort of things did these companies do you ask? How about floor to ceiling windows that can go from clear to very dark at the flick of a switch in the conference room next to the data center floor. At the right time during a sales pitch -- and to "Also Sprach Zarathustra" -- the presenter flicks the switch revealing the data center and ops center.

Big plasma displays were all the rage for the ops centers a few years ago. With the prices of those coming down and getting more popular I'm not sure how impressive those now are. Maybe an array of rear projection screens along one wall with a (useless) graphic of your network would do the trick. These would also be handy for porn viewing during the night shift.

I'd suggest that looking for a new job might be a priority if this subject comes up. Seriously.

Re:Tell them thanks but no thanks. (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406085)

I think you're missing the point. The company's growth has been off the charts and we've added a lot of new people - redesigning our ops center is a necessity for form and function.

Why not make it look good in the process? Oh, and cost is a top priority - that's why I've asked slashdot for ideas. No money in the budget for pricey consultants who will just toss some LCDs on the wall.

Re:Tell them thanks but no thanks. (2, Interesting)

toddbu (748790) | more than 9 years ago | (#13408064)

The company's growth has been off the charts and we've added a lot of new people

Ok, now you should really be scared. Very few companies can sustain massive growth spurts. More often than not, a company will get a bunch of new business and assume that more is coming, and they spend accordingly. If I were given this task, I'd focus on building a system that was extensible and forget about the looks. When they come in for a tour, tell your customers that while it doesn't look very sexy, you've chosen to build a solid system that can grow with their needs. Then put the money that you saved in a bank account for a rainy day.

Samurize (3, Informative)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402888)

If you have some systems running Windows I highly reccomend hooking up a few displays with Samurize. It's what all the case modders use to display system data on auxilary screens and does some absolutely beautiful things with your data.

http://www.samurize.com/ [samurize.com]

Re:Samurize (1)

kagaku (774787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403003)

Even if you run Unix/Linux based servers, you can still put samurize to use. It's very configurable and scriptable; you just need some form of output from whatever service/program you want to monitor, and the ability to write a script to display that data in a meaningful way.

Re:Samurize (1)

modi123 (750470) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403139)

In the god like words of Ted "Woah"!

I didn't know this thing existed, thanks!

hmm, maybe.. (4, Informative)

hookedup (630460) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402923)

if you've got an iis server/.net framework running somewhere, check this [dundas.com] out

"Designed to display and monitor real-time data using a range of fully customizable Gauge and Dial types, Dundas Gauge is perfectly suited to developers building digital dashboards, manufacturing, financial, and other applications that monitor KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) and other critical data."

they would look pretty sweet on some big flat panels..

Re:hmm, maybe.. (1)

speleo (61031) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404566)

Ok, I've seen everything now.

This is a company that sells software that creates analog graphic guages priced in the hundreds to thousands of dollars -- for one license.

 

Re:hmm, maybe.. (1)

shyster (245228) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406080)

Quest's [quest.com] Spotlight series are both functional and have a pretty snazzy UI. When I was demoing their Sql Server [quest.com] and Windows [quest.com] monitors, co-workers thought I was playing a game. All that eye candy is pretty taxing on processor usage, though - so you may need a dedicated box to pump it out in high res glory.

Re:hmm, maybe.. (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 9 years ago | (#13408535)

"if you've got an iis server/.net framework running somewhere, check this out"

If they've got an iis server/.net framework running, they'll be too busy to play around with dashboard widgets!

run Cacti (4, Informative)

NoSuchGuy (308510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402924)

Run Cacti [cacti.net] on different monitors. View some screenshots here [cacti.net]

Just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13402959)

Just have a few workers laying back in comfy chairs. With a wire stuck on their head somewheres...Have them twitch occaisonally. Tell vistors the twitches are when they reboot servers or detect intrusion attempts. Paint flames on one of the walls. Tell people that's the firewall.

You only have to live up to Hollywood (2, Insightful)

nortcele (186941) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402970)

The expectation of your visitors will only be what they have seen in movies. You meet or exceed that... excellent. If you are below that, visitors will think the system is below par. Personally. I like glass, lights, and large screens. Screens like NASA has. For the glass, I think machines behind glass like in the movie Sneakers is neat. Large glass windows like one sees in a shopping mall. Depends what you want the visitors to be impressed with. Security? Cool security things. Not some exit door alarm like the local bookstore has. First define the impression you want to make on visitors, then work from there.

Re:You only have to live up to Hollywood (2, Interesting)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403038)

I once interviewed for an ISP housed in an old telco central office. They had the windowed room with the big racks and lots of blinkenlights, and five monster projection screens with real-time network activity indicators. Two rows of desks faced the screens, and every desk had a phone. Because it was in an old central office, it was also a fallout shelter (until some dope put in the glass front door), and it had a ton (possibly literally) of backup batteries and a big Diesel generator. I felt like I was interviewing on the set of War Games.

Re:You only have to live up to Hollywood (1)

KozmoStevnNaut (630146) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404985)

One of my friend works at a IT support company where they do remote backups of smaller companies' data, monitor they servers etc.

The mostly server-oriented dept where he works is located in an old underground bank vault, complete with a metre-thick front door. They have the same setup with stats and alarms, with their desks facing it.

It's a supremely cool place to work, too.

That bastard.

Re:You only have to live up to Hollywood (2, Funny)

W12x40 (906647) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406072)

Get the giant Mercator world map with the blinking lights randdomly scattered over it and a big SPECTRE logo.

Don't buy based on looks (1)

ritRadical (770569) | more than 9 years ago | (#13402987)

You are planning on buying new hardware/software based on if it is visually impressive? I honestly would prefer to spend money on useful apps that will make your job easier and worry about impressing people who know nothing about data centers later. Your data center isn't Disney World. Function before form.

Why ask us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13403002)

If you're trying to impress the customers on tour, ask the customers, not us.

suggestion (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403004)

Unfortunately, one of the criteria is that this redesign be functional and visually appealing

Kind of rules out any advice /. might provide. Unless you'd like a color scheme to blind your customers into submission.

Big Disk + Nice Rack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13403007)

I've known one IT manager to insist that every NOC needs a big disk and a nice rack. All of the real work ends up being done by overloaded and obsolete boxes under desks in offices, because the nice rack is idle and the big disk is blank.

You never think they look like TV (1)

ballwall (629887) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403076)

I visited Norad when I was a kid, and was SO disappointed that there was no huge room like in War Games (at least not that I saw). And visiting various NOCs they were always a let down...

Then I saw this [ibm.com] one in person. Straight out of the movies. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a briefing center behind it with glass that's normally opaque (translucent really) but turns transparent when current is applied (Exactly like the congressional hearing scene in Sum of All Fears). Fun to watch peoples' faces when they hit the button.

Re:You never think they look like TV (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406914)

I've been working on the new IBM briefing center in Chicago. The machine room there is behind a wall of glass so it's visible from the reception area, and of course it's all jet-black IBM rack-mount kit with blinky lights; the power units are hidden away at the back, because they're not black. The reception itself is behind a curved glass wall made from panels of glass suspended from industrial-looking metal joints. The reception desk looks like it was made from printed circuit boards. I'm implementing the software to drive the flat panels suspended from the ceiling and mounted to the wall outside each room.

Anyhow, my suggestion for what to include in a NOC would be an espresso bar...

(Opinions mine, not IBMs.)

Three words (2, Funny)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403128)

Big flashing lights. Especially if the people have ADD... then it'll be 'ooh! pretty light!!'

Go the War Games route (4, Funny)

zymurgy_cat (627260) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403160)

Have a computer play tic-tac-toe against itself as it also tries to discover nuclear launch codes. Have everyone run around in a panic, picking up phones and screaming orders, handing off papers, etc. Make sure you have a big red phone in the center. When it rings, answer, "Yes, Mr. President."

That'll impress them!

Oh, and hire this guy for your center. He needs a real job. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001056/ [imdb.com]

The War Room from Dr. Strangelove (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403210)

The Big Board is AWESOME!!!

How about... (1)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403232)

A bunch of empty racks. Whenever a tour comes through, someone can run in and yell "We've been cleaned out. They stole all the machines! The database, payroll, everything. They're all gone!"

The tour guide can then point to a lonely machine in the corner and say they were all replaced with that one. Maybe have a memo handy.

re: What Would You Like to See in an Op Center? (3, Funny)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403286)

What Would You Like to See in an Op Center?

Tom Clancy. So that we can deride him for his crappy books. [amazon.com]

Re: What Would You Like to See in an Op Center? (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403589)

He didn't write the OpCenter books.. just put his name on them.

Not that that excuses him.

Giant screens (2, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403289)

You need three giant screens roughly 20' high each, on the first you would display all the current inbound and outbound traffic, status controls for nodes etc. The second would display routing information with a giant map of the world and flashing lines running backwards and forwards. Then the third would be allocated to display the biggest game of solitaire in the world. If the first two screens don't impress them, then the last will certainly make all the customers go "oooh!"

Then you need to buy 5 chimps from the local zoo and train them on how to change tape drives.

And THEN you need to hire about 30 circus midgets, paint them orange, with green hair and stripey suits, so that whenever a potential customer gets locked into a server cage they can magically appear and sing a little song...

Man, that's MY idea of a great ops building!

Re:Giant screens (2, Interesting)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 9 years ago | (#13407177)

And THEN you need to hire about 30 circus midgets, paint them orange, with green hair and stripey suits, so that whenever a potential customer gets locked into a server cage they can magically appear and sing a little song...

With apologies to Roald Dahl...

Oompa Loompa, Doobidie Doo
Another Stupid Dumbass, Locked-in Are You!

Oompa Loompa, What do you See?
Don't let him out, he's a PHB!

Babecam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13403334)

A babecam with a dedicated display is what you need. Your visitors will sign up for your service just so they can come back often and enjoy the facilities.

Heat! (1)

autarkeia (152712) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403349)

Well, you could do what Verio does in NYC and open all of the security doors and put box fans in the doors to help keep the NOC cool. The sparks from overheated motherboards should add a nice splash of light and smoke, and you wouldn't even have to hire extras to be the frustrated throngs of people beating down the door to the OC.

Re:Heat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13407007)

Or we could be like you and write a retarded blog about your 733+ PHP skillz and yappy dogs and gay friends in SF.

practical yet convenient (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403519)

Old fashioned analog clocks on the wall, set for each time zone you support.

Make 'em big, with nice labels for the timezone and names of the cities where your remote offices are.

functional art (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403600)

Imagine a series of acrylic columns, each filled with water or some other fluid. Bubbles are gently percolating in each column (when all is well).

Each column represents the network load on a given subnet.

As the network load rises on a subnet, the intensity of the bubbles increases.

functional art-Coffeepot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13404828)

"As the network load rises on a subnet, the intensity of the bubbles increases."*

Slashdot should make it look like a hyperactive coffeepot.

*$25 to Taco, and he can arrange for there to be a slashdotting every time you have a tour.

Two words... (2, Funny)

mctee155 (862932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403602)

Stripper poles

what would you like to see? (2, Funny)

BinLadenMyHero (688544) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403620)

What Would You Like to See in an Ops Center?

Boobies?

Beer fridge. (2, Funny)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403662)

Seriously.

Guns... Lots of guns... (1)

crazyphilman (609923) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403692)

And wire-fu matrix hacker-fights every half hour on the hour!

Woah!

Good work stations (1)

bomonguny (564572) | more than 9 years ago | (#13403924)

These are what I have in mind: http://www.poetictech.com/ [poetictech.com]

Scantilly clad dancers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13403963)

Check out the Denver Nuggets Dancers [af.mil] at the Cheyenne Mountain operations center. The also host cheer leaders there.

From experience... (1)

darnok (650458) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404181)

...I'd say the following items really impress potential ops centre customers:
- a dedicated viewing area; somewhere that visitors can sit/stand/watch that's glassed off from the day to day work area. If possible, with separate entrances so customers don't experience the joy of conversing with some out-of-it operator who's had to work a double shift in the outside smoking area
- the requisite lots of screens showing pictures of systems/apps in green/yellow/red. No customer who visits an ops centre actually understands this stuff, but they'll notice if it isn't around
- a BIG display showing a very simple view of the number of Sev 1 or Sev 2 problems. Visitors DO understand this
- security cameras showing a very clean and tidy machine room, and maybe shots of attached car parks and external doors. This reinforces the impression that, if they go with you, their machines and data will be "safe"
- if they're going to see real live people, make sure they're seeing a calm controlled work environment AT ALL TIMES. When disasters occur, you need to be able to drag the relevant people off to some out-of-view meeting room when you rip their heads off so potential new customers don't get to watch the bloodshed
- no PostIt notes! Whether it's true or not, many people associate these with being disorganized, and you can't afford to appear disorganized. Use some alternative to store scribbled down bits of info

etherape (1)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404208)

If you can afford ARP poisoning a few of your switches, etherape looks really cool and can instantly give you a better quantitative look at traffic then any graphical network monitor tool I've seen.

http://info.biosci.ohio-state.edu/network/etherape .png [ohio-state.edu]

http://etherape.sourceforge.net/images/v0.3.1.png [sourceforge.net]

Why are you bullshitting your customers? (1, Troll)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404369)

Why are you intentionally misleading, if not pure out bullshitting, your customers? The intelligent ones will see right through your flashing lights and other such faggotry.

Show them a clean, functional environment. That means you don't have cables all over the place. That means your staff are well dressed, well groomed, and act with the utmost professionalism. Make sure all servers are mounted in their racks with the correct number of screws. Make sure any PC-style servers aren't badly scratched and have their cases on. Keep PC servers lined up evenly. Sweep the floor very often. Polish it, too.

But please, don't try to awe your customers with flashing lights and spinning fans. Don't insult their intelligence so obviously. If I were shown such a fanboy facility, I would politely say, "Take me away from this shit," and I would proceed to never deal with them again.

Re:Why are you bullshitting your customers? (1)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405558)

"That means your staff are well dressed, well groomed, and act with the utmost professionalism. "

You really must be a PHB/MBA lurker, as no real Slashdotter would expect any staff to fit that description.

Also, a suit and tie really is a crappy outfit for crawling around fixing wiring and opening PC's. That's what black jeans and T-shirts are for.

Personally, I think big displays of lm_sensors or top stats, MRTG graphs, gkrellm/superkarama/gdesklets kinda things are going to impress on big plasmas.

Re:Why are you bullshitting your customers? (1)

dow (7718) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406812)

Show them a clean, functional environment. That means you don't have cables all over the place. That means your staff are well dressed, well groomed, and act with the utmost professionalism. Make sure all servers are mounted in their racks with the correct number of screws. Make sure any PC-style servers aren't badly scratched and have their cases on. Keep PC servers lined up evenly. Sweep the floor very often. Polish it, too.

Sorry but well groomed, lined up, swept to me sounds anal. I hate it when people think the most important things are the outside appearence, not whats going on inside. Some people think their own shit doesn't stink.

Re:Why are you bullshitting your customers? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#13407174)

"Sorry but well groomed, lined up, swept to me sounds anal. I hate it when people think the most important things are the outside appearence, not whats going on inside. Some people think their own shit doesn't stink."

Then why worry how the ops center looks at all?
Actually a clean enviroment like that would make it a more pleasant place to work as along as you don't have to do the cleaning.

Modding, Functional and Asthetic (1)

erica_ann (910043) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404676)

Personally, I think it would be sharp to have modded towers. Maybe all acrylic cases that are uv reactant
http://www.girlgeekette.net/clear_tower.jpg [girlgeekette.net]

Or have different departments that have different tower designs
http://www.girlgeekette.net/tower.jpg [girlgeekette.net]

Even modded glow from the inside keyboards
http://www.girlgeekette.net/kb.gif [girlgeekette.net]

Course it is hard to photo the towers, but they do show up in regular fluorescent lighting in a building and not just with the lights dim (The flash reflects the inside so you don't see the lights in towers)

You can even buy the thin glow wire and outline desks, speakers and monitors with it.

Maybe even have different colours for different departments.

Of course, all the monitors would have to be the lcd flat screens. And try running R4 as a screensaver type when not in use. (load the program on the computers not active)
http://www.rabidhamster.org/R4/screenshot.php [rabidhamster.org]

All of that is eye candy though. Aesthetics would also show proper ergonomic height of desks, cables neat and orderly - use panduit - not just lying on floor or duct tape over, hanging from ceiling.

Wireless keyboards and mice so no cords everywhere for those.

Functional, Sharp and Orderly.

A tip jar (1)

Thatto (258697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404754)

Why not? Unprofessinal yes... but in my experience the NOC is under appriciated.

CVT! (0, Offtopic)

Zaffle (13798) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404820)

Continuously variable transmission [wikipedia.org] rocks. The car alters the torque as you accelerate, this leads to massive improvements in fuel efficency.

A big "scoreboard" using bright plasma displays (1)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404970)

There should be a scoreboard that is always displaying major stats... Like the stock market ticker tape that you see at the brokerage firms... Visually appealing AND useful. Well, as long as there isn't a board full of red stats!

All you need: (1)

dhaines (323241) | more than 9 years ago | (#13404973)

A giant 2-pole blade switch.
Jacob's ladder and/or plasma sphere.
Enormous red button with yellow stripes.
Sharks. With frickin' laser beams.

You need this: (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#13405059)

You need something like the Ergotron Lan Organizer 3000

http://www.ergotron.com/3_products/furniture/lan_o rganizer/default.asp [ergotron.com]

Plus a big multiscreen LCD like this:

http://www.ergotron.com/4_markets/financial/defaul t.asp [ergotron.com]

Then you can really impress people, they'll think they're in Enron's fake War Room!

A real big status screen (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 9 years ago | (#13406161)

The old tkined program can put up a very big,
very detailed connectivity map via a cheap
LCD projector.

That's both visually attractive, and useful,
as it spots blown machines and links
relatively quickly, as longas you keep
the tests low-cost (ping, SNMP gets, etc)

--dave

eye candy (1)

FLOOBYDUST (737287) | more than 9 years ago | (#13408007)

Cute ladies.

Glassed Conference Room (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13408513)

I did an internship for a large network operator, and at one time I was able to visit their NOC. Basically, they never allow customers or visitors in there (but foreign interns are...). However, the NOC was adjacent to a large conference room, only separated by a glass wall.

Otherwise the design of the NOC itself was pretty standard. Lots of big screens, a wall of projectors and professional-looking operators. Think NASA's launches, only with style.
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