Technology and the Human Interface

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Fiber-based networking technology enables remarkable efficiencies. Still, no matter how well configured it is, a broadband network must be managed by some-ONE

By Mikail Shomade, VP Engineering

Mikail Shomade, VP of Engineering, OneCommunity

Mikail Shomade

I started my IT career during college as a hands-on operations guy. I was the guy back there doing the cabling. I was lucky enough to be in Atlanta in the late 1990s, at the right place at the right time, when many of the technologies we take for granted today were being developed. My career has grown up right along with Internet technology.

So I look at technology as the ultimate human interface challenge. It’s something we consume and interact with every second of every day. Technology is constantly evolving to meet the human need for productivity, education, and entertainment.  Understanding the importance of the human interface is critical to the success of technology products and services. No matter how well-configured a network is, it still must be managed by some-ONE.

NOC Network Engineers Christine Grimm and Mark Dulmage help customers monitor their networks.

NOC Network Engineers Christine Grimm and Mark Dulmage help customers monitor their networks.

Matt Judy and Dave Cromer check patch panels in the OneCommunity Data Center.

Matt Judy and Dave Cromer check patch panels in the OneCommunity Data Center.

Network Engineers Robert Armstrong and Dejean Savcic perform quality assurance checks.

Network Engineers Robert Armstrong and Dejan Savcic perform quality assurance checks.

Left to right: NOC Manager Jonathan Garing and NOC Engineers Mark Dulmage, Matt Judy, Christine Grimm, Robert Armstrong and Dejean Savcic.

Left to right: NOC Manager Jonathan Gairing and NOC Engineers Mark Dulmage, Matt Judy, Christine Grimm, Robert Armstrong and Dejan Savcic.

Here at Onecommunity,  there are a number of very talented and dedicated individuals providing that human connection. Our locally based Network Operations Center (NOC) team is the human interface that ensures all our technology is operating the way our customers expect  To some people the NOC seems like a mysterious black box where trouble tickets go in and solutions bubble up. I look at their job three ways.

First, they are the 24/7/365 “First Responders.” They notice something that has happened, or is about to happen, before the customer realizes it happens. We would rather put out smoke than fight fires. They have numerous tools to detect when the network doesn’t meet optimal preset conditions.

Second, they’re the guardians of quality for our installations. They make sure all the pieces are tied together: the equipment, the circuit, the location and the customer education. They make sure that the first experience the customer has with our technology is wonderful. So our NOC team members are the guardians of that quality experience.

The third part of the NOC team’s job is evangelizing technology. As they troubleshoot issues, they are interacting with customers. They help the customer understand the power of the technology we use to manage our networks. Many of our customers decide they want the same tools we are using so they can monitor the health of their own network and make business decisions based on that information.  So the NOC team reinforces the power of technology with our customers.

This is important because technology is a powerful enabler. It enables efficiencies in so many other industries; healthcare and education are just two examples. If Cleveland’s schools become the blueprint for the technologically enabled school system, more people are going to want to come here and those students are more likely stay, leading to more ideas being created. Because these ideas are supported by technology, more jobs are created. This leads to more people wanting to come here and the cycle reinforces itself.

So we ask ourselves: How can we make sure that a high school class can get the updated version of a book within seconds of its release? That a hospital can interface effectively with life-saving technology? That a software developer can push updates to hundreds of thousands of users in seconds? How can we make sure that our network infrastructure grows as fast as the need is growing?

Finding solutions to those challenges is one reason that we’re upgrading our all-fiber network from 10 gbps to 100 gbps this year. In my opinion, this will set a nationwide example for other regions and companies seeking to address those same challenges.

Here at OneCommunity, we are focused on evolving high-speed, high-capacity fiber-optic networking technology in Northeast Ohio in a way usually only undertaken by much larger, nationally focused companies.

The difference is, we are deeply invested in the community; our parents live here, our kids go to school here. We live here, work here and play here.  So growing our network quickly and effectively is more than just a financial investment for us. It’s a human investment.

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