Jason Alley, Director-Solutions Marketing, Cloud Solutions, Interactive Intelligence
Not since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s have we observed such rapid change,” says Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, in his foreword to the company’s 2015 Trust Barometer. Today’s CIO is scrambling. Digital anarchy reigns as customer expectations change at light speed. It’s hard to respond fast enough and deliver consistent results with the many new, and constantly changing strategic priorities. Pressure is mounting as, according to the 2015 PricewaterhouseCoopers Global CEO Survey, CEOs “see high value from digital technologies that deliver better, safer customer experiences.”
CIOs are increasingly turning to cloud contact center services for help. What’s critical to understand is that underlying architectures vary greatly and have major implications relative to security, availability, functionality, customization, speed and innovation. Not all cloud architectures are equal. One size does not fit all. To determine the best cloud architecture for your contact center, let’s explore each model and evaluate them against different criteria.
Private cloud has multiple meanings. For the purpose of this article, we are referring to companies purchasing contact center software and deploying it within their own data centers using virtualization technology from VMware, Microsoft and others.
This model appeals to those wanting certain cloud benefits - increased agility, virtualized operations, economies of scale, and a more simplified, manageable IT environment - but either aren’t ready, or simply don’t want to move to a public cloud model. It also appeals to those requiring the highest level of customization.
Single Tenant Public Cloud
The single tenant architecture is the first public cloud model we’ll explore. Unlike private clouds, public clouds support multiple customers on common platforms.
What’s unique about the single tenant model is that each customer has its own separate virtual instance of the contact center application. This provides a highly secure environment, the freedom to customize applications, and control over the timing of updates – outside of busy seasons, for example.
Common hardware is used through the use of virtualization technology, which makes it relatively easy for mature on-premises software solutions to be offered as cloud services, especially if they are software-only and part of an integrated, all-in-one platform.
This model appeals to organizations with highly stringent security, compliance, functionality, customization and control requirements.
Traditional Multitenant Public Cloud
A more traditional multitenant architecture requires that multiple customers use a single instance of the contact center application. This architecture is perceived as being less secure. If designed and implemented correctly, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. The bigger issue has proven to be reliability given a single point of failure.
Traditional multitenant applications tend to be moderately mature with a growing set of functionality. They’ve been around for 10 to 15 years, but were originally designed for cost-conscious contact centers with basic needs.
This model appeals to companies with less mission-critical centers and moderate functionality requirements.
Distributed Multitenant Public Cloud
The new distributed multitenant public cloud model is an exciting development.
Powerful cloud infrastructures from IaaS providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google are intersecting with a few other key technology advancements — purist service oriented architectures, a highly evolved developer ecosystem and a new way of speeding the innovation lifecycle with continuous deployment. This intersection is ushering in a new generation of contact center applications that are easy to deploy and use, incorporate the latest in web, mobile and social design, and run on highly scalable, reliable and secure enterprise-grade platforms.
Application services run independent of one another across various computing resources and separate IaaS provider locations. Through the use of highly specialized software, application traffic is automatically distributed across these services, resources and locations to provide horizontal scalability and elasticity. If a resource goes down, one is automatically and immediately spun up to eliminate downtime.
Given that these applications are less mature, they don’t yet offer the broad functionality that private and single tenant cloud offerings do. However, it’s quite remarkable just how quickly new functionality is being added with continuous innovation and deployment. The gap is closing quickly.
This model appeals to innovative companies looking for a future-based platform that will help accelerate business impact, deliver consistent outcomes and innovate the customer and agent experience.
Evaluating the Options
Architecture brings its own set of strengths and weaknesses. There is no single right answer. It depends on what you consider to be critical success criteria, as well as the resources available to you. The chart below is meant to serve as a tool to help you decide which approach is best for your contact center. Check criteria elements considered critical to success and see if one model stands out above the rest.
RightScale’s 2015 State of the Cloud Report reveals a majority of companies use both private and public clouds with hybrid being the preferred strategy. They explain, “Increasingly, enterprises plan to use a portfolio of clouds, with 82 percent reporting a multi-cloud strategy as compared to 74 percent in 2014. This year’s survey reveals that 55 percent of enterprises are planning for hybrid clouds, 13 percent expect to use multiple public clouds, and 14 percent are planning for multiple private clouds.”
A Higher Calling
Cloud contact center services are indeed helping deliver better customer experiences through the use of digital technologies. However, the greater opportunity for today’s CIO is to assume a leadership role in transforming his or her company into a digital business - driving digital transformation across technology, organizations and processes to turn velocity of change into a competitive advantage. Rather than seeking faster horses, build something that will change your industry forever. Use the contact center and customer engagement as a reason to paint a grander vision and become the chief evangelist for change.