Designing and Building an Effective SOC That Meets Your Unique Needs

All SOCs are not created the same.

There is no specific blueprint for an effective Security Operation Center (SOC); one size does not fit all. When you do the appropriate homework before you begin the design process—looking at your organization’s specific needs, holistically—you will be able to produce a space that works best to meet them.

Whether you are designing a sophisticated space for a large team, or a small space for just a couple of people, that appropriate homework is going to be the same. What is it? Let’s take a look.

Focus on Culture

The unique culture of your organization must have a significant influence on the design of your SOC. Most importantly, how do different roles and functions communicate with each other? Whether your style is collaborative, linear, hierarchical, or a hybrid, it will go a long way in determining the right design for your SOC.

For instance, SOCs for organizations that value collaboration should be designed to ensure maximum visibility among operators, analysts, supervisors, and managers. Their ability to have consistent engagement will be key.

Consider Non-Traditional Layouts

The design of your SOC is as open as your imagination, and again, it all starts with how your organization communicates. A non-traditional layout may end up producing the best environment for your needs.

  • For collaborative organizations, hub and spoke models, huddle spaces and conference spaces are good options. These allow the space to facilitate visual and verbal communication as well as account for interactive technologies—maximizing collaboration.
  • For organizations that follow a chain of command, function-based focus areas are a perfect option, so information can be effectively gathered and moved up for quick decision-making. Designs that emphasize content sharing and movement are also ideal.

Determine Location

The design of your SOC is as open as your imagination, and again, it all starts with how your organization communicates. A non-traditional layout may end up producing the best environment for your needs.

  • Infrastructure resiliency and redundancy are the highest possible—and a risk profile is created if optimal resiliency can’t be realized
  • Location can effectively engage with management and leadership during critical incident command

Additionally, multinational organizations should consider regional centers that provide language support. These SOCs need to have access to resources who are fluent in local languages to be able to communicate with local authorities.

Incorporate Virtual Access

As businesses transition to distributed and regional workforce models, it is essential to have virtual access to SOCs. During the design process, it is important to:

  • Identify specific business needs that will be more conducive to a virtual operation
  • Develop a risk profile for virtual locations that includes factors such as privacy, compliance, hardening, and resiliency
  • Plan for infrastructure, network, and bandwidth use
  • Develop operational and technical contingencies to ensure business continuity
  • For multinational organizations, it will also be valuable to create a follow-the-sun model

Make the Video Wall Decision

Many people believe a video wall must be a standard feature of any SOC, but today, its function in modern SOCs needs to be reimagined. The wall shouldn’t necessarily be designed as the prime source of all data; it should instead display essential intelligence content and alarm data for incident management and response. Consider:

  • Focusing on providing incident management and response capability at work surfaces
  • Designing work surfaces to be interoperable and interchangeable to allow maximum flexibility in the space
  • Providing the ability to push media and content to the wall

Never Forget Health and Wellness

No matter how many bells and whistles you incorporate into your SOC—investing in an expensive, technologically advanced facility—if you ignore the critical element of employee health and wellness, you can render it ineffective. Health and wellness are perhaps the most important elements of the space.

Believe it or not, the biggest complaint we hear from SOC employees is that their chairs are uncomfortable. Most of them work full or extended shifts, so you must make design choices with their comfort in mind. This includes:

  • Planning for ergonomic desks and chairs, considering desks and spaces that make visual communication easier
  • Using easier-to-clean surfaces like rubber composite or tile that won’t absorb dust and dirt and create allergens in the space (carpets, for example)
  • Allowing for ventilation and variable temperature controls for varying changes in seasonal temperatures and day to night shifts
  • Planning for proper lighting, which can include dimmable and non-glare fixtures and other features that create the proper level of eye comfort for the staff
  • Working with lighting and workspace consultants to create the right balance of function and wellness in your space

The Takeaway

No matter what size SOC you are designing—and whether you are updating an older facility or building from scratch—start by considering what you are trying to accomplish operationally: consider non-traditional layouts, determine location, incorporate virtual access, make the right video wall decision, and prioritize health and wellness. If you can, it’s ideal to build a small team that can leverage expertise from different disciplines: security, workspace design, audiovisual, and infrastructure. That combined expertise can help you build the right space that rightfully meets all your operational needs for a Security Operations Center.

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