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What Would You Like to See in an Ops Center? 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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What Would You Like to See in an Ops Center?

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  • Big Red Button (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ericspinder ( 146776 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @07:47PM (#13402703) Journal
    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.

    • 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.
      • 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?)

      • 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.

    • 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.
      • 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 :-)
      • '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
        • 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, t
    • 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 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drsmithy ( 35869 )
        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 lapt

        • Re:Big Red Button (Score:3, Informative)

          by bluGill ( 862 )

          Well I take my laptop to meetings. It is handy to be able to do work while the boss is talking about some other project, then when the topic changes I come back. Sometimes that is the most work I get done in a day. Not to mention I often start a long test before a meeting, the laptop lets me fix stupid mistakes so it runs. (I never come back to: "big-test.dat" not found, when I have the laptop to copy that file to the right location and restart the test)

          Though if I could trade a laptop for dual LCDs

      • 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 'c
        • ...I just went through this shit with Internap (Fischer Plaza...

          Heh, I helped a client move a couple racks of gear out of there just the other day!
    • 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

  • What more can I say?
    • Absolutely! Most server racks these days are booooring. You want blinkenlights? You want a DEC KA-10 with a BBN pager. [] All of those panels at the tops of the boxes were just filled mit der lovely blinkenlights. Combined with an IMP ( g []) 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

    • by hardlined ( 785357 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:44PM (#13403053) Homepage

      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 :-)
      • by WebCrapper ( 667046 ) on Friday August 26, 2005 @03:39AM (#13405222)
        Good lord, if I only had mod points.


        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.
    • 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?
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Thursday August 25, 2005 @07:50PM (#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!
  • Ambient Devices Orbs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PylonHead ( 61401 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @07:53PM (#13402743) Homepage Journal
    I think a bunch of these [] 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.
  • matrix screensaver! []
  • me? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    what would you like to see


    large displays

    visually appealing

    Boobies, of course.
  • What every NOC needs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GryMor ( 88799 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:06PM (#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.
  • 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.
    • 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
    • by toddbu ( 748790 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:32PM (#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.
      • 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 op
        • 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.
          • 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

  • Samurize (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zackbass ( 457384 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:14PM (#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. []
    • 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.
    • In the god like words of Ted "Woah"!

      I didn't know this thing existed, thanks!

    • Linux desktops can do the same thing with SuperKaramba. And, of course, OSX desktops had Konfabulator before any of this.
  • hmm, maybe.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hookedup ( 630460 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:20PM (#13402923)
    if you've got an iis server/.net framework running somewhere, check this [] 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..
    • 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.

    • Quest's [] Spotlight series are both functional and have a pretty snazzy UI. When I was demoing their Sql Server [] and Windows [] 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.
    • "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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by NoSuchGuy ( 308510 ) <do-not-harvest-m ...> on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:20PM (#13402924) Journal
    Run Cacti [] on different monitors. View some screenshots here []

  • by nortcele ( 186941 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @08:29PM (#13402970) Homepage
    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.
    • 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 int
      • 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.
    • Get the giant Mercator world map with the blinking lights randdomly scattered over it and a big SPECTRE logo.
    • There was a story about some antivirus ops room that had two entrances:

      (1) the entrance with double bulletproof doors set into granite, with an armed guard and fingerprint scanner, to use when visitors were around so that they would go away with good stories about the level of security at the place

      (2) the normal entrance, that people used to get into their office when visitors weren't around
  • 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.

  • 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 [] 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'
    • 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
    • I helped build the one at MCI that doesn't look *quite* as nice as this one at IBM, but it was very very nice. Until the IBM monitors started exploding at 3am. Frickin' security guy called the cops cuz he thought a gun had been shot in the building, but my teammate called me at home about at broken monitor at the same time. We used Averkeys to display and record scrolling logs to VHS (can you tell this was started in 1996?) and upgraded from there. *woot*

      All that being said, whatever you do.. invest
    • I concur, actually. I was blown away by the scale of it all, but inside the actual spring-mounted buildings (built like navy ships, for some reason) there wasn't anything impressive.

      Missile command silos in the middle of Wyoming (for the Peacekeeper fleet, I think) were much more interesting. Obviously, there were some things they had to cover up, certain displays, but there *were* banks of switches and das-blinkenlights which were impressive.
  • Big flashing lights. Especially if the people have ADD... then it'll be 'ooh! pretty light!!'
  • by zymurgy_cat ( 627260 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @09:03PM (#13403160) Homepage
    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. []
  • The Big Board is AWESOME!!!
  • 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.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @09:29PM (#13403286) Homepage
    What Would You Like to See in an Op Center?

    Tom Clancy. So that we can deride him for his crappy books. []
  • 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
    • Re:Giant screens (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JediTrainer ( 314273 )
      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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by mctee155 ( 862932 )
    Stripper poles
  • by BinLadenMyHero ( 688544 ) <.binladen. .at.> on Thursday August 25, 2005 @10:38PM (#13403620) Journal
    What Would You Like to See in an Ops Center?

  • ATT Global NOC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by paulywog ( 114255 ) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @10:41PM (#13403644)
    AT&T has a pretty awesome global operations center: ojects_software/photo_global_center.jpg []
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Thursday August 25, 2005 @10:44PM (#13403662)
  • And wire-fu matrix hacker-fights every half hour on the hour!

  • These are what I have in mind: []
  • ...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 u
  • 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. e .png [] []

  • 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 t
    • "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.
    • 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 t

      • "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.
    • The intelligent ones will see right through [...] such faggotry.

      Yes! Do not leave small bundles of sticks [] lying around your NOC. Rural types will be comforted to see something familiar, but for ultra-super-intelligent types like the previous poster, they will be a disappointment.
  • Software: [] []

    Two high resolution projectors and screens to project them on.
  • Personally, I think it would be sharp to have modded towers. Maybe all acrylic cases that are uv reactant []

    Or have different departments that have different tower designs []

    Even modded glow from the inside keyboards []

    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

  • Why not? Unprofessinal yes... but in my experience the NOC is under appriciated.
  • CVT! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Zaffle ( 13798 )
    Continuously variable transmission [] rocks. The car alters the torque as you accelerate, this leads to massive improvements in fuel efficency.
  • 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!
  • 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 something like the Ergotron Lan Organizer 3000 rganizer/default.asp []

    Plus a big multiscreen LCD like this: t.asp []

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

  • Cute ladies.
  • 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.
  • Find some antique computer gear, and make it work. 9 track tapes, paper terminals that sit on the floor and are filled with real tubes. Not many, but they look impressive in a "we never throw anything away" way. (This can be good to show bankers as they don't like waste) Seeing (and hearing!) the auto-loader on a 9-track reel to reel tape is impressive. Put Adventure on the paper terminal.

    Of course you do your work on modern computers, but sometimes it is fun to work on machines older than you are

  • This seems like a marketing question, not a technical one, since the primary consumer of the visuals is the potential customer who will only be glancing at it.

    So, there's very little need for detailed statistics up on the screen.

    You want to show them you're "realtime" and "proactive".

    Put CNN up on a plasma, along with the Internet Weather Report. If there's a hurricane coming through make sure the strike probability maps are up.

    For some useful real-time data, you might want to layout your network on Interm []
  • You need a giant Lite-Brite []. Here is an example [].

    Build a matrix showing servers vs services and have an intern run around changing the Greens to Reds in real time.
  • Finally someone might know this.
    After a power failure or something, traffic lights blinks the red stop lights.
    It takes *hours* for a body to get there, open the yellow panel, and push a button. Why?

    Why can't this be done from that, err, Ops Center?
  • I'm the guy you'll want to impress the most. I decide which data centres are best for my clients to put their equipment and services. I've built ops centres, so I know what goes in them. If you can't impress the extreme techies who will visit, your company is dead. We will not just avoid you, but will divert as much business away from you as possible. You need to make sure TPTB understand an ops centre is a functional business tool first, and a PR tool second.

    An ops centre is first and foremost a place for

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken