Is Your Enterprise’s Network Ready to Support Cloud-Based Applications?
Cloud-based computing in general, and hosted contact center solutions specifically, are catching on at a very rapid rate. While there are many proven benefits of moving your contact center solutions into the cloud, before making this decision it’s important to consider the viability of your data network to determine if it has the capacity to run cloud-based solutions. The most common misconception among end users is that, “I won’t have to worry about any technical issues if I move my services to the cloud.” While this would be nice, it’s not reality. The lack of clarity on this issue has resulted in significant frustration and disappointment for both end users and vendors. It’s frustrating for end users when they figure out that even after moving their systems to the cloud, they are still dependent upon their internal IT organization to some degree. And it can be trying for cloud-based vendors because they are blamed for issues over which they have little or no control.
Any organization considering cloud-based solutions should discuss the idea with their internal IT group to find out if they have the necessary network resources, including bandwidth, quality of service (QoS), software, and hardware to support the implementation. If the network does not have the capacity to handle the incremental volume, users will experience network latency. This means that there will be unexpected and intermittent delays in transmitting data, which can be very annoying to both customers and agents.
Preparing Your Network for a Cloud-Based Implementation
Cloud-based contact center infrastructure applications, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) traffic, automatic call distributors, call recording, and dialers, perform much better when they have dedicated bandwidth. Other contact center applications, such as workforce management, performance management, surveying and quality assurance, are not negatively impacted by small delays in transmitting data, and therefore do not require dedicated bandwidth. DMG recommends that you follow these steps to prepare your network to support cloud-based contact centers:
- Perform a network assessment. Evaluate your current network’s infrastructure, performance, availability, and security.
- Replace out-of-date network components. Update switches, routers and firewalls to ensure that they have the features to support and secure a cloud-based application.
- Enhance the network configuration to enable it to support cloud-based contact center applications. Changes may include updating QoS policies and routing tables on routers and switches, adding new IP addresses to domain name services (DNS) servers, and establishing new firewall rules.
- Determine the appropriate way to connect your organization to the cloud-based vendor. The best way to connect to a cloud-based vendor is a point-to-point protocol (PPP) connection. This approach provides the highest level of security and data transmission speed, but is the most expensive approach. If a PPP connection is not an option, then use a virtual private network (VPN) connection. If cost and resources are prohibitive, the third and least favorable option is to use a standard unsecure Internet connection. The concern with this approach is that it leaves you vulnerable to security breaches and attacks. While it is used at times, enterprises should try to avoid this approach.
- Implement a back-up connection for business continuity. To avoid having a single point of failure in your network, DMG recommends implementing a redundant connection to access your cloud-based applications. This is done by implementing an additional circuit between your site(s) and the vendor, and configuring your routers to fail over to the back-up circuit when the primary circuit is out.
Cloud-based computing solutions have the ability to provide applications to any user, on any device they choose, from any location. For enterprises to transition successfully to cloud-based services, they need to ensure that they have a solid network foundation in place with appropriate bandwidth and security. It’s essential to partner with the internal IT group to prepare the network and to monitor its performance on an ongoing basis. If you have questions about how to address your network issues, please contact me at 614-245-8635.
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Ask the Experts
What is Unified Communications and what does it do for contact centers?
DMG defines Unified Communications (UC) as a technology framework that helps organizations provide a standardized user interface and user experience across multiple applications, devices and channels. It integrates real-time and non-real-time communication services. The real-time communication services include: Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, presence, call control, speech control, instant messaging (IM)/chat, and conferencing (voice and video).
As contact centers migrate to multi-channel environments and expand beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar legacy call center, UC will play an increasingly important role in handling customer interactions, whether via phone, email, Web, chat, video, social media or other channels. Vendors and enterprises continue to struggle to build a strong business case and identify tangible benefits that yield a high return on investment (ROI) for UC within a contact center. Among the many benefits of UC are:
- Presence – allows agents to see the real-time availability of other contact center associates, as well as their preferred method of communication. Reduces the unproductive time agents spend tracking down available associates to assist with customer support.
- Collaboration – facilitates enhanced customer service by providing instant access to personnel, subject matter experts and data, regardless of location. Contact centers increasingly require real-time collaboration between co-workers, business partners and customers, using advanced data-sharing and communication devices and services.
- Devices – enables management staff to stay engaged with contact center activities from any location. Mobility is growing in importance as contact center supervisors and managers increasingly use smart devices to complete their daily tasks.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.