Decision 2015: Call Center in the Cloud?

In Decision 2015: On-Premise Call Center? we looked at some of the trade-offs with on-premise call center solutions. At one time on-premise was the only viable solution, but in the last few years the march to Cloud solutions has had the momentum.

When considering a Cloud call center implementation, one of the first advantages that presents itself is the ease of getting started. Most providers give you a menu of options, and once your choice is made, you’re presented with a system to match. No ordering and waiting for hardware to arrive. Then there’s the cost structure. You are only asked to pay for what you use when you use it. This is often on a monthly basis, allowing companies with to get started quickly at a low initial outlay.

  • No waiting for hardware to arrive. Systems should be available within hours if not sooner.
  • Low/no initial cost to get setup. You don’t have to buy a set of servers.
  • Easier migration to bigger or smaller systems. You can often migrate a snapshot to more powerful systems when needed, or if it turns out the load is lower than expected, you can switch to something with fewer cores/less RAM.
  • Easier backup/snapshot options. Options to image and restore drives are often available.
  • You pay only for what you use. If you use 10 servers this month, you pay for 10. If you need 15 servers in 3 months, you don’t have to pay for them now to have them availability later.
  • No responsibility for hardware. You don’t have to dispose of old hardware or replace faulty components. The cost is covered by the provider.
  • No server room. You don’t have to allocate space, power or resources to a server room.

These advantages mean that if you’re just getting started, you can have a lot of your infrastructure in place and ready to go before you’ve acquired any space for your call center.

Obviously, if there were no disadvantages, adoption of the Cloud would be nigh universal. In moving to the Cloud, you may encounter these issues:

  • Higher ongoing cost. The monthly cost includes provisions for some of the advantages above, as well as a profit margin.
  • Difficulty incorporating add-ons like local storage, Orecx. Anything that requires direct access to the hardware is probably out.
  • Legacy systems may not be suitable. If you’ve got a special phone switch that your system depends on, for instance, you may have difficulty incorporating the Cloud.
  • Distance from users (latency). Local users are no longer local to your system, so you wind up increasing the number of connections out of the system over the Internet. Issues with latency can cause audio or data issues.
  • Inability to be hands-on with the software/hardware. If you’ve got an extra-special IT team or particular requirements, you can’t manage your systems like you would with on-premise.
  • Increased bandwidth requirements. Now your data is flowing from the Cloud to your agents over the Internet, whereas before it may have been over the local LAN. You will need to acquire more bandwidth.
  • Many telephony interface options aren’t available.

Whether you ultimately decide to go with an on-premise or cloud-based call center, you will want to make sure that you’re using world-class call center software for your contact center. A system that supports either helps make the decision easier.