The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

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1 Architectural Spotlight The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center Richard Snow VP & Research Director Customer Engagement Ventana Research Jason Alley Solutions Marketing Interactive Intelligence, Inc.

2 Contents Introduction... 3 Q: How has the supply model for contact center systems evolved over the last five years?... 3 Q: What are the main features of a private cloud contact center architecture? What are the limitations?... 5 Q: What are the main features of a single tenant public cloud contact center architecture? What is driving adoption of this model?... 6 Q: What are the main features of a multitenant public cloud contact center architecture?... 7 Q: What are the latest developments in distributed multitenant public cloud architectures?... 8 Q: Can a company mix and match private and public cloud contact center systems to create a hybrid architecture? Q: What are the main advantages and disadvantages of the five models? Q: What are the top four things to consider when evaluating cloud architectures and services for customer engagement? Conclusion Appendix: The Value of IaaS AWS as an Example How AWS works The Authors Copyright 2014, 2015 Interactive Intelligence, Inc. All rights reserved. Brand, product, and service names referred to in this document are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Interactive Intelligence, Inc Interactive Way Indianapolis, Indiana to chat or request a call-back Publish date 12/14, version Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 2 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

3 Introduction There s a lot that goes into determining the best cloud architecture for your company s contact center. This document is meant to serve as a resource to help you understand the options available to you, some of the pros and cons of each model, and the top four things to consider when evaluating the impact to customer engagement. Our first stop, however, is to look back in order to understand how systems have evolved to put things into perspective. Here s the journey we ll be on together. Supply Model Evolution OPTION 1 Private Cloud OPTION 2 Single Tenant Public Cloud OPTION 3 Multitenant Public Cloud OPTION 4 Distributed Multitenant Public Cloud OPTION 5 Hybrid Cloud Summary of Pros and Cons Top Four Considerations We encourage you to skip to the sections that interest you most and then read the others as time permits. Hopefully you ll find this a useful resource as you look to replace or enhance your existing contact center capabilities to better differentiate the customer experience and, as a result, the business. Making the right decision is a big deal. Just like buying a new car or house, opportunities for change come around only so often. Use this to your advantage. Q: How has the supply model for contact center systems evolved over the last five years? Richard Snow, Ventana Research: Nearly all the first call centers were built using proprietary systems and deployed on-premises. They typically included purpose-built hardware such as private business exchange (PBX) and automatic call distributor (ACD) systems to manage inbound and outbound telephone calls, commercially available computer hardware, and software applications that were developed in-house or licensed from a product vendor. With the rise of the Internet, call centers evolved into contact centers. Customer expectations and costs began to rise, and companies began to support more channels of customer engagement. To do this, companies began to consider open standards software systems to replace purpose-built systems. Vendors emerged to provide cloud-based contact center services, which include managing multiple channels of engagement ( , SMS text, chat and social media) and a wider variety of contact center management applications (recording, quality monitoring, workforce management and analytics). Typically, these products are provided through a usage-based billing model, and the hardware and software are at premises outside of, and not owned by, the organization Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 3 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

4 Customer demand continues to expand as consumers expect to use even more channels of communication (particularly mobile apps and social forums). Internally in many companies, more business units are also becoming increasingly involved in customer service. To support these changes, cloud-based contact center vendors have adapted their business models so that organizations can choose to mix on-premises and cloud systems, and to mix and match applications and hardware. This model is commonly known as a hybrid contact center architecture, and is an evolution highlighted in my benchmark research into the contact center in the cloud. The research finds that while many companies continue to use their on-premises systems, 63 percent plan to ultimately invest in cloud-based systems and 44 percent plan to invest in communications in the cloud in order to improve customer engagement. As a result of all these developments, organizations now have five cloud-based models to choose from: private cloud, single tenant, multitenant and distributed multitenant public clouds and hybrid. Jason Alley, Interactive Intelligence: Agreed, Richard. We are seeing companies deploy a mix of cloud applications and architectures in the contact center to address an evolving set of functional, technical and strategic requirements including an expanded set of communication channels. Your research for companies moving their contact center to the public cloud is consistent with what we see here at Interactive. We ve experienced a massive shift in our business towards the public cloud. Last year, our cloud business accounted for 50 percent of total orders. If you compare that to 5 percent of total orders in 2009, the trend is clear companies are aggressively moving contact technology to the public cloud. Interestingly, the reasons for doing so are shifting from primarily financial to more strategic in nature digital business, business agility, speed to market, and re-focusing IT resources on core business imperatives. We likewise see companies continue to keep contact center technology on-premises with IT offering the business additional flexibility via (internal) private cloud services. While this approach is being chosen less often, it will continue to be a relevant and important model for certain businesses and vertical markets. When it comes to the contact center and the cloud, it s not a one-size-fits-all world. Customers want what they want, when they want it, how they want it. Choice and flexibility are king Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 4 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

5 Q: What are the main features of a private cloud contact center architecture? What are the limitations? Snow: My research shows that companies have invested large sums of money on proprietary on-premises contact center systems. However, interaction volumes and types have increased over time, interactions have become more complex, and companies now must support even more channels of engagement. The handling of interactions has become more distributed, both physically and across business units. Global customers expect support regardless of the time zone, and companies making acquisitions have to coordinate interaction handling across widely dispersed business locations. Contact center architectures therefore have become based on private networks, and the systems are centralized in a corporate data center or are distributed across multiple sites by using virtualization technologies. This type of architecture enables companies to maintain control of most activities, including network and systems operations, security, functionality, backup and recovery, and scalability. Supporting such an architecture, however, requires a larger, more diverse set of technical resources and more operational resources. As a consequence, substantial effort and expense are dedicated to keeping the lights on rather than developing new capabilities to support changing business demands. Costs inevitably increase in operations, technical support, system maintenance and development, and in providing backup and recovery capabilities. Such an architecture also limits flexibility both in terms of scalability and capabilities for users in different locations and business units. Alley: To add to your point about interactions becoming more distributed and global, the Holy Grail for many multi-site and multinational contact centers is to truly virtualize the collective operation. They are looking to pool all agents, regardless of location, to increase efficiency and coverage. A private cloud deployment allows for this, as do the various public cloud models we ll discuss later in this document. In addition, contact center applications based on a private cloud architecture offer the highest degree of isolation, customization and control. This is appealing to, and in some cases required by, certain companies. Software-only applications are required to take advantage of virtualization technology and associated shared computing resources that bring increased flexibility, additional economies of scale and a more manageable IT environment. Thus, it s important for customers to understand what application components can be virtualized when evaluating solutions. More and more companies are treating private cloud deployments as a first step towards moving to the public cloud. In fact, certain contact center applications can be transitioned to a single tenant public cloud environment with relative ease work is carried forward, the user experience is unaltered and no additional training is required. Important note Private cloud architectures are also offered by certain cloud contact center solution providers. In this case, application and infrastructure components reside in solution provider data centers; however, all software, hardware and network elements are completely isolated to support a single company. To keep things simple, we ve limited the private cloud discussion to within customer/company locations Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 5 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

6 Q: What are the main features of a single tenant public cloud contact center architecture? What is driving adoption of this model? Snow: The main difference between a private cloud contact center architecture and a public, single tenant architecture is this. For the latter, the hardware and software reside at a third-party location and are typically accessed using a public network usually the Internet, although in some cases the vendor allows a private connection into its computer center. The third party is typically the application vendor, but in some cases the vendor allows an independent third party to provide service using its application. The scope of the service is limited by the functional capability of the application, which again in some cases is extended by the vendor to integrating one or more applications. In this model, each organization is allocated its own instance of the application and has its own data sources, but runs on its own or shared hardware. The main driver for adopting the single tenant model is cost. Organizations don t have to purchase their own hardware, and there is no up-front charge for the application. As well, there is only limited need for operations and support staff or highly skilled development resources. The vendor normally provides backup and recovery services. Another benefit is that the application typically is the same one available for licensing on-premises, so it is proven and can be customized as needed because each organization has its own instance. This also makes it possible to revert to a private cloud architecture if the need arises. Yet moving to a public cloud gives rise to some concerns. The most commonly cited is security; many organizations new to the concept worry how easy it is for someone to hack into their application and data. In my view this fear is unfounded. Cloud vendors have to pay greater attention to security than most organizations, as their revenue stream depends on it. Other considerations are scalability (whether the vendor has sufficient hardware to meet fluctuating demand, response times, accessibility and availability), the service level that the vendor guarantees, and the question of innovation how much resources the vendor allocates to develop the application. Alley: We too have found security is a top concern for companies considering moving their contact center to the public cloud. The single tenant model is a great choice for organizations with the most stringent security and compliance requirements. It offers the highest level of isolation and control of all public cloud architectures. Each customer runs their contact center on a separate virtual instance of the application, an approach often referred to as multi-instance. Multi-instance using virtualization 2015 Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 6 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

7 There are other reasons companies tend to adopt the single tenant model, including: Broad functionality Market leading contact center platforms that have matured over the past 20+ years are available as software-only solutions in a single tenant cloud environment, offering the broadest level of functionality. Highly customizable You hit on this above, Richard. Certain contact centers wish to move to the public cloud, but desire the ability to highly customize their application. If this is important, the single tenant model is the way to go as far as public cloud solutions are concerned. Flexible deployments Single tenant customers can deploy in a centralized or hybrid fashion and migrate between, or even to a private cloud environment as you mention above, Richard, to meet changing requirements. Control over timing of updates Because each customer runs on their own instance of the application, they re able to work with service providers to control the timing of updates. This can be important for contact centers with busy seasons directly tied to revenues (for example, online retailers, tax services, and so on). It allows them to minimize risk by keeping the environment unchanged throughout a given period of time. Q: What are the main features of a multitenant public cloud contact center architecture? Snow: The main difference of a multitenant contact center architecture is that there is only one instance of the application: All clients use the same application. To enable this, vendors typically rearchitect their application to partition users from others, and each client has its own data source(s). To support this, vendors add additional security capabilities so that no client can access another s functionality or data. The application runs on a single hardware platform, which in most cases is highly distributed so it can be scaled up or down to meet the total user base s demand. This model has drivers, benefits and concerns similar to the single-tenant model but with a few differences. There are increased concerns about security because all users are sharing one application, although again I believe these are unfounded, as vendors go to great efforts to ensure security of access and data. Although vendors provide processes and technologies so each client organization can have its own customizations and configuration, these typically are not as extensive as in the single-tenant model. For the same reason, there are heightened concerns if an organization wants to move from a public cloud to a private cloud. On the upside, vendors solicit feedback from all users and use it to develop enhancements, which all benefit from and which are typically made available more frequently than in other development cycles. Alley: Those are really important points. The ability to understand how all agents are using the application can help cloud contact center providers improve usability. As well, the ability to roll out new functionality to all users simultaneously reduces provider effort and overhead. If designed properly, multitenant applications, both traditional and new, can minimize customization by incorporating additional best practices and configuration flexibility Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 7 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

8 For some of the reasons you state, Richard, we ve found companies that gravitate towards this more traditional multitenant model have contact center operations that are less mission critical in nature. Given that their tolerance to risk is relatively higher, these companies are comfortable with a single application instance supporting all customers. We ve also found that companies with less stringent functional Traditional multitenant approach requirements find the more traditional multitenant model suitable. Applications tend to be moderately mature with a growing set of functionality. They ve been around for years, but were originally designed for contact centers with basic needs that were primarily concerned with cost reduction. As drivers have shifted to be more strategic, and as providers have sought to move up-market, there has been a push to increase functionality. While most applications are still not nearly as functionally rich and broad as single tenant and private cloud applications, progress is being made through partnerships and, in some cases, acquisitions. The key for customers is to make sure to understand how well these solutions are integrated from both a technical and administrative standpoint. Unlike the new distributed multitenant approach (see next section), solution provider engineers and operations personnel are responsible for provisioning hardware that runs in their data centers. This includes set-up, testing, operations, maintenance, expansion and evolution. As a result, there s greater potential for human error, and customers aren t able to benefit from the massive investment (literally billions of dollars) that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers are making to evolve and innovate their infrastructures. And that s a good segue to our next question. Q: What are the latest developments in distributed multitenant public cloud architectures? Snow: The latest development in the public multitenant model is hardware on-demand, which vendors such as Amazon, IBM and Salesforce.com now offer. In this model, organizations do not have to purchase their own hardware because the vendor makes it available as a cloud service. The platform can be used for application development or to run existing or newly acquired applications. It also allows application vendors to run a multitenant, distributed service without having to own or operate their own hardware platform. Clients can request the size of platform they require, and the vendor provides tools to configure it to meet their business needs. Such tools allow users to scale their demands up or down depending on usage, and to build in backup and recovery. This model offers elasticity in meeting hardware demands, and is especially useful for organizations that have fluctuating demands (such as seasonal businesses) or, in the case of the contact center, interaction volumes that are less predictable Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 8 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

9 Alley: This is a really exciting development, Richard. As these powerful cloud infrastructures provided by IaaS providers intersect 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 a whole new generation of contact center applications is emerging that offer the following unique benefits: Unlimited scalability Maximum reliability Optimized security Faster deployment Continuous access to functionality In this model, contact center application services run independent of one another across various computing resources and separate IaaS provider locations. 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. Distributed multitenant approach For those wishing to better understand the value that IaaS brings, see the Appendix, The Value of IaaS AWS as an Example. A few other important characteristics of contact center applications based on a distributed cloud architecture include: Modern interfaces and endpoints Incorporating the latest in Web, mobile and social design, from the start. Plug-and-play appliances Providing IP PBX, IVR, ACD, call recording and conferencing capabilities, in addition to local survivability, at the edge. Cost-effective storage of massive amounts of detailed data Enabling customers to slice and dice data to gain valuable new insights. Extensible platforms Providing standard interfaces and REST API for the developer ecosystem to freely add value to existing applications and services Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 9 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

10 Market leaders in the contact center space are beginning to introduce new applications and services based on this new architecture, including those that complement existing platforms and applications. And they are maturing at a rapid pace with the new continual deployment model, reducing release cycles from months and quarters to weeks, days, even hours. One of the benefits of being new is that these applications, by nature, incorporate the latest in web, social and mobile design. The world of cloud application development looks a whole lot different than it did 15 to 20 years ago when traditional multitenant cloud applications were developed. That said, the distributed cloud and its traditional multitenant predecessor do share a few important characteristics: Application services serve multiple customers Both models are able to understand how agents and supervisors use apps to improve usability Both models can roll out new functionality to all users simultaneously Customization is minimized by incorporating additional best practices and configuration flexibility Q: Can a company mix and match private and public cloud contact center systems to create a hybrid architecture? Snow: The simple answer is yes. Many contact centers include what we would consider legacy systems; for example, proprietary PBX systems may still serve their purpose but cannot meet the demands of multichannel, multipurpose customer interaction management. Modern centers are complex and require systems to manage different channels of communication; to route interactions based on complex rules; to manage a distributed, mobile workforce handling interactions; to manage high volumes of transactional data (for example, social media); and to provide advanced analysis of operations and the business outcomes of interactions. Organizations are thus faced with the dilemma of how to meet these demands with limited budgets and few skilled resources. My research finds that an increasingly popular solution to meet all these demands, while extracting the full value of existing systems, is to create a hybrid contact center architecture. This can be achieved in several ways. The first is to replace some or all of an architecture with a hybrid solution; for example in this case, one where part of the solution is onpremises (for instance, call recording) and the other is cloud-based (for instance, speech analytics). Another way is to add new capabilities alongside existing ones using public cloud services; for example, additional communication options. A third approach is to move some or all of an existing solution to one of the cloud hardware providers. The permutations are almost endless, but in all cases the key is integration. To provide a seamless, personalized and consistent customer experience, all the communications infrastructure, applications and analytics supporting customer interaction management must be closely integrated Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 10 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

11 Alley: Agreed, Richard. An integrated approach is critical. And companies need to start with an integrated customer engagement strategy. When it comes to contact center technology, this is a unique period we are in. Legacy systems seem to be reaching the end of their useful life more than ever. We re seeing companies consider cloud alternatives as they evaluate replacement systems to support current corporate goals and objectives. Many look to reduce the amount of disparate systems and vendors/providers with all-in-one suites in the cloud. However, a significant percentage are choosing the hybrid model where voice infrastructure, recordings and customer data remain at the customer site, behind their firewall. Following is what it looks like with contact center applications based on a distributed multitenant and single tenant architecture (the traditional multitenant model does not typically support this type of hybrid deployment). This form of hybrid cloud provides these benefits: Helps addresses certain security and compliance requirements Provides local failover if Internet connection to provider data centers is lost Removes reliance on Internet to deliver exceptional voice quality Allows customers to terminate calls locally and maintain carrier relationships Another form of hybrid you mentioned was the ability to add new capabilities alongside existing ones using public cloud services. What s really cool is that innovative new public cloud services that are turning up can be integrated with existing on-premises and public cloud solutions already in place. For example, we see companies adding public cloud social enterprise directories and social customer service applications to existing systems. Additional value is realized immediately and additional services can be added at the customer s desired pace. As stated earlier in the document, it s not a one-size-fits-all world when it comes to the contact center. Companies want what they want, when they want it, how they want it. The hybrid model certainly helps with that Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 11 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

12 Q: What are the main advantages and disadvantages of the five models? Each cloud contact center architecture has its pros and cons. However, the public cloud architectures single tenant, multitenant and distributed multitenant share a common set of pros and cons when compared with the private cloud model. Pros common to public cloud options: Increased flexibility Less capital investment Reduced IT requirements Reduced operations costs Faster deployment time Cons common to public cloud options: Security concerns with technology off-premises Less control over environment Greater reliance on third-party provider Here are additional pros and cons associated with each architectural approach. Option PROs CONs Private Cloud Mature platform with proven functionality Retains status quo of having full control over all systems Retains flexibility to support more distributed workforce and mergers and acquisitions Systems, data and infrastructure isolated from external organizations Highly customizable Retains control over timing of maintenance and updates Requires more capital investment Requires more and greater range of internal skills Relies more on IT Slower and riskier to deploy because it requires more resources and internal development Added operations costs Requires building own backup and recovery systems and processes Requires internal security skills, processes and systems Less easy and more costly to innovate 2015 Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 12 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

13 Option PROs CONs Single Tenant Public Cloud Most mature public cloud model, extensive capabilities and more deployment options Less upfront capital expenditure and operational costs Customization and integration may be complex Potential long-term license charges More isolated systems, data and infrastructure than multitenant Easier to customize and to control timing of updates Easy to migrate to on-premises Usually includes backup and recovery as part of the service Multitenant Public Cloud Moderately mature with growing capabilities Quick to deploy Best practices and innovation shared among all users Highly flexible configurations Increased security concerns Potential long-term license charges Single point of failure Less ability to customize, fewer deployment options and timing of updates Complex to migrate to onpremises Higher integration challenges Access to data can be slower Distributed Multitenant Public Cloud Platform of the future Very quick to deploy Extremely elastic platform, with the ability to scale up and down easily, highly reliable, and ability to deploy globally Continuous innovation and evolution of best practices shared among all users Least mature model. Less control over choice of hardware platform Less ability to customize Complex to migrate to onpremises Hybrid Public/Private Cloud Supports gradual transition to cloud services, allowing protection of existing investments Maintains existing relationships with third parties such as telecommunications providers Integration of on-premises and cloud can be challenging Ongoing support, development and operational charges Sensitive capabilities and data can be retained in-house 2015 Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 13 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

14 Q: What are the top four things to consider when evaluating cloud architectures and services for customer engagement? Snow: My benchmark research into the contact center in the cloud finds that two issues are paramount to companies as they assess potential new systems to manage customer interactions and engagement. The first issue is fit to business needs, and the second one is usability. Over the last 18 to 24 months (based on the publication date of this paper), customer expectations have risen dramatically, and a number of consumer research projects show that one bad experience can easily lose a customer or result in negative comments on social media. To meet these expectations, organizations must assess the people, processes and systems they need to support new ways of engaging with customers. Cloud computing opens up the opportunity to gain access quickly to such functionality, requires fewer skilled resources and requires less up-front capital investment. But none of these steps will deliver the return on investment unless the chosen solution meets those business needs; therefore organizations should first focus on functional capabilities. The same is true of usability. If the targeted users won t work with the chosen system, the organization will not meet its business objectives. Organizations should examine carefully how easy it is to set up and configure the systems they evaluate; among the things they should consider are how users gain access to capabilities (including those away from their desks) and how easy it is for them to complete their tasks. Two other aspects also are important: the system s fit with the company s existing architecture, and the vendor s track record. Very few organizations are about to build their first contact center or are in a position to replace everything they have, so many will to some degree be looking for a hybrid solution. Organizations should pay particular attention to how the vendor supports integration of its system with the company s onpremises systems or those of other cloud providers the company uses. Cloud computing is still fairly young, so organizations should take into account each vendor s track record, asking for contacts at current customers, ideally in businesses similar to theirs. Criteria should include aspects such as security features and any breaches of security, performance against published targeted service levels, and the level of support the vendor provides on a round-the-clock basis. Alley: I can t think of four better things to consider, Richard. When it comes to business needs, companies should challenge themselves to move beyond the like-for-like mentality (looking for new solutions to do exactly what old systems did, how they did them). This is a perfect time to develop a comprehensive and innovative customer engagement strategy if one doesn t already exist. Then evaluating cloud contact center architectures becomes a much more meaningful exercise. Everyone has a worthwhile goal to work towards and help put things into perspective. It also helps avoid hitting obstacles unnecessarily. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. - Henry Ford 2015 Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 14 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

15 Usability is also extremely important. Agents, supervisors and administrators deserve applications and interfaces that take the focus off the desktop and on to the customer (for agents) and running the contact center more effectively (for supervisors and administrators). If the goal is delivering an excellent customer experience, that should be the focus not figuring out how to navigate a convoluted tool on the desktop. Digging into how the solution is architected will shed some light on the kind of user experience to expect today and in the future. Be sure to see the interfaces in action too. Ideally, invite the user community to participate in the evaluation so they can provide input and feel a part of the decision process. You may learn something valuable. Some contact center architectures support the hybrid model better than others. Be sure to dig into the details to understand the implications for your business. Investment protection is a big deal, so do your due diligence here. Solution provider track record is huge. Aside from the items mentioned, be sure to understand the financial strength of the company. Are they publicly traded? Have they experienced consistent growth over the past several years? Is their cloud business growing, and by how much? It s also important to understand if the provider is considered a global market leader in the contact center, as validated by credible third party industry experts. History of innovation is another area to explore. Understand what new applications and capabilities the company has brought to market over its lifetime. This will give you a good sense for how much a cloud solution provider focuses on delivering new, innovative capabilities. Verify a cloud solution provider s track record and financial stability Are they publicly traded? Have they grown consistently over several years? Is their cloud contact center business growing how much? Are they viewed as a global market leader? Do they have a history of innovation? Conclusion We hope this document has been a useful tool in helping you determine the best cloud architecture for your contact center. Remember, there s no one right answer for all. Do what s right for your business. Take advantage of the opportunity for change. Be ready to think about the future and the best platform for communications, collaboration and customer engagement Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 15 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

16 Appendix: The Value of IaaS AWS as an Example Amazon leads the industry in providing data center services that are astounding in scale and sophistication. Amazon has been validated not only by its own huge operation, but by third parties such as Netflix that utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide services to millions of people around the globe. Similarly, if architected correctly, your contact center can use AWS to handle a virtually unlimited number of users and events and to increase capacity on the fly, as needed. This bursting capability is one factor that separates an AWS-based cloud contact center solutions from others. Another is the reliability these solutions provide using AWS elastic load balancing which automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple instances and locations. How AWS works For those not already intimately familiar with how AWS works, the following diagram provides a good starting point: Source: Amazon Web Services Amazon has world-class data centers in what they call Regions around the globe (for example, US East, ES West, Asia Pacific, EU and South America). Each region has multiple, isolated locations known as Availability Zones. This allows application services and data to be placed in multiple locations and replicated across for added reliability. To learn more about AWS Regions and Availability Zones, visit the AWS site. This next diagram (see next page) helps us take it one step further to better understand how AWS can enable unlimited scalability and maximum reliability Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 16 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

17 Amazon has what they call Elastic Load Balancing. Here s how they describe it: Elastic Load Balancing automatically scales its request handling capacity to meet the demands of application traffic. Additionally, Elastic Load Balancing offers integration with Auto Scaling to ensure that you have back-end capacity to meet varying levels of traffic levels without requiring manual intervention. Source: Amazon Web Services As illustrated here, application services run independent of each other across various computing resources, or Instances, and separate locations, or Availability Zones. Application traffic is then automatically distributed across these services, resources and locations to provide a greater level of fault tolerance. If a resource goes down, one is automatically and immediately spun up to eliminate downtime. And your customers never know anything happened. You can visit the Amazon site to learn more about Elastic Load Balancing. Finally, specialized software and tools developed over the years allow contact center solution providers to treat infrastructure as software and focus more of their attention innovating at the application level. While just brushing the surface, AWS clearly offers significant value to customers using contact center cloud applications based on their services. And when you sit back and think about it, it s simply not reasonable to expect traditional multitenant solution providers to duplicate the enterprise-grade infrastructure and specialized software and services Amazon, Google and Microsoft have developed over the years. It s far too massive, sophisticated and investment heavy. According to one article, Gartner: AWS Now Five Times the Size of Other Cloud Vendors Combined, Amazon, for example, has spent roughly $12 billion on building out its infrastructure since 2005 (article is dated August 2013) Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 17 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

18 Ventana Research is the most authoritative and respected benchmark business technology research and advisory services firm. We provide insight and expert guidance on mainstream and disruptive technologies through a unique set of research-based offerings including benchmark research and technology evaluation assessments, education workshops and our research and advisory services, Ventana On-Demand. Our unparalleled understanding of the role of technology in optimizing business processes and performance and our best practices guidance are rooted in our rigorous researchbased benchmarking of people, processes, information and technology across business and IT functions in every industry. This benchmark research plus our market coverage and in-depth knowledge of hundreds of technology providers means we can deliver education and expertise to our clients to increase the value they derive from technology investments while reducing time, cost and risk. Visit Interactive Intelligence is a global provider of collaboration, communications and customer engagement software and services that improve the customer experience. Our company s standards-based all-in-one IP communications software suite, which can be deployed in the cloud or onpremises, is backed by more than 6,000 customer deployments worldwide. In addition to software, our solution set includes hardware, implementation, consulting, support and education. Interactive Intelligence was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. with offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Visit Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 18 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

19 The Authors Richard Snow is VP & Research Director Customer and Contact Center Research at Ventana Research, where he leads the firm s Customer and Contact Center Management research practice. In this role, Richard conducts research exploring the people, process, information and technology issues behind customer operations management, contact center management, and customer experience management. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today s highly complex application products. With more than 30 years of experience, Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse, Sema Group and Valoris, and has been involved with all aspects of delivering IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors. Contact him on Twitter on LinkedIn, and at Also read Richard s blog at Jason Alley serves as Solutions Marketing Manager for Cloud solutions at Interactive Intelligence. Prior to Interactive, he spent 10 years consulting with large enterprise contact centers and suppliers for Vanguard Communications and a company he later founded, SmartContact Consulting. Jason spent the first seven years of his career in sales, marketing and product management with Nortel, Aspect, and Hipbone (a web collaboration company acquired by Kana). His unique blend of end-user and supplier experience equips him with a fresh, comprehensive perspective something he strives to infuse in every project. Jason holds a bachelor s degree in business economics from UCLA Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 19 The Best Cloud Architecture for Your Contact Center

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