Manage Your Servers Before They Manage Your Call Center

Every call center has to face a tradeoff between having enough capacity to keep clients happy and keeping their costs down.

This is one of the big reasons for widespread Cloud adoption. You can get the resources you need when you need them, paying only for what you use.

Q-Suite is unique in offering an Asterisk-based system with queues that span multiple servers. This means Q-Suite can scale from very small deployments to Enterprise levels.

What about off-season, though? What about quiet times of the day or week? You don’t need to have all that capacity running, costing you money, when there aren’t that many calls.

How does it work?

When you’re an administrator, it’s easy to use. On the Service Management page, you’ll see a list of servers. By each server that runs the web screens or Asterisk, you’ll see a Disable button or an Enable button, along with information about running services.

Going Down!

If the button says Disable, pressing it will disable it.

No, that doesn’t mean the box shuts down, or services stop immediately.

The feature was designed to let you mark a service as down, so that it would stop getting used.

If the server was running Asterisk, calls will still go on. But, the HAASIPP (High Availability Asterisk SIP Proxy) won’t send new calls to it. Agents won’t be able to log their phones into it, and agents whose phones are registered there won’t receive new calls.

It works much the same for Web servers. Agents who are currently handling calls can keep working. Once they’ve marked the call as complete, they will be automatically logged out. Agents not in a call will get logged out. New agents trying to log in to that server will not be able to.

Call centers using Indosoft’s Web load balancing won’t be directed to a server that’s been disabled.

Live Status screens and Asterisk reports will show whether there are still agents logged in to a particular web box, or if there are still calls going through the server. Once activity has stopped, it’s safe to shut down.

Back to Life

When you need the server back up, it’s easy to add back into the system.

Clicking the Enable button kicks off a process that:

  • Reloads configuration files and settings
  • Rewrites dialplans and scripts
  • Notifies the Q-Suite and HAASIPP that the server is back and active

Once that’s done, the server will show as Active and be ready for use. The whole process takes just a few minutes to make sure the server is ready for action.

What if you forgot to turn the server back on first?

The process fails and the box stays marked as Inactive. The server is only available if it passes its internal checklist. You can always turn the server back on, then press the Enable button again.

Lots of Reasons to Try It

Cost savings are the big reason clients asked us for this feature. Running 20 Asterisk servers 24/7 can get expensive if you’re only expecting to need 5 this week. There are a few other cases where this feature can be handy, however:

  • Changing instance specs. Especially with Amazon, it can be handy to change a server from one instance type to another. Disabling/Enabling a few at a time lets you do that during slow periods.
  • Server maintenance. Every machine needs downtime now and them. This is a great way to do this without disrupting agents and calls.
  • Notifications from your provider about specific machines. This ties in with the last one, but Amazon is among the Cloud providers that warns of upcoming maintenance of specific servers. Sometimes it’s easy to avoid by shutting down the instance and bringing it up again. Amazon automatically moves the instance to new hardware. All on your schedule.

We’ve found that this feature has made it a lot easier to coordinate agent, call, and server activities on large scale or multi-site Asterisk deployments.