One of the benefits of being in IT Managment is that you get invited to nice ‘jollies’ from time to time by various suppliers. This week it was the turn of BT, inviting me down to their Network Operations Centre (NOC) in Oswestry.

Obviously the aim of the day from BT’s perspective was to tell me about all the exiting new offers they have on things like Hosted Voice solutions, BT Fusion, the 21st Centrury Network etc.

But the incentive for me to go was to see their NOC. So this is basically network central for BT, from here they monitor the total BT Voice network, so all the 700+ exchanges, internernational nodes and interlinks with other telecoms providers. They are monitoring for capacity, utilisation of the network, faults, atacks, fraud etc. And the setup is as you expect, a large hall with rows of desks with computers (Sun workstations) and a massive big display on the wall at the front showing various stats, fault information, and BBC News 24!!

It was all very calm and ordered, as you would hope from the centre of communications for the UK. The guide (who had a striking resembelence to Michael Caine) said that the recruitment process there was very intensive, as they need to get the right skills and personalities, people who stay calm in a crisis and don’t make rash decisions.

He decribed a few situations, such as 9/11, the recent train crash in Cumbria, where they have had to manage the situation, and keep things going.

All in all a very interesting day, especially for a geek!