By Alan Percy, Senior Director of Marketing at AudioCodes

If you are a contact center manager, you’ve probably been inundated with materials, whitepapers and reports from the vendors and analysts on the topic of cloud-based contact center solutions.  They promise greater scaling, simplified implementation, better reliability through geographic diversity and the opportunity to “pay-as-you-go”.

However the question in many a contact center architect’s mind is:

“If I put my Contact Center in the Cloud, should I expect a match made in heaven?
  Or am I making a deal with the devil?”

A closer look is in order...  

First it is important to acknowledge there are a number of theoretical advantages to cloud-based contact centers – by sharing the application, expertise and computing resources offered a cloud service provider with other businesses, your business can shift its focus from capital-intensive purchases to implementation of a pay-as-you-go subscription model with reduced up-front expenditures.

At the same time, putting your contact center (essentially the front door of your business) in someone else’s data center introduces new challenges.  Will you have control over software updates and aligning new feature introductions with your business schedule? What ability is there to customize the application to fit special business needs?  How well prepared is the cloud provider to weather natural disasters and maintain service in case of a significant failure?  What is the impact on WAN connectivity and reliability risks?

The challenge is choosing an architecture that balances the business risks with the business rewards.  A quick look at some of the popular architectures and their benefits and disadvantages:

On Premise – the classic means and still most-common means of implementing contact centers is within the four walls of the business.    As reported by a 2013 Nemertes report, over 70% of businesses have no plans to move to cloud, while another 11% are only now looking at moving to the cloud.  On-premise contact centers offer the greatest control over operations and security.  However, that control comes at an operational cost as the complete management and facilities costs must be carried without the benefit of shared datacenter resources.

Public cloud – the polar opposite of on premise, public cloud contact centers (aka: Contact Center as a Service – CCaaS) puts the entire contact center in a shared data center and shares a common application platform managed by the service provider.  Benefits include a dramatic reduction of on premise equipment and space requirements, plus the pay-as-you-go business model.  Issues with CCaaS come from a much greater dependency on WAN connectivity between the agents and the service provider, reduced control over the application, upgrades, and service access.  A common complaint from cloud application users is that upgrades and changes occur sometimes without consultation to the business needs, often occurring at what seems to be the worst possible time.  Interestingly, Public Cloud service providers often invest significant effort to ensure the reliability of their datacenters, including multi-site geographic diversity.  But this only helps if your agents can get connectivity over the WAN.

Private/Hybrid Cloud – offering a hybrid approach, Private/Hybrid Cloud contact centers often puts a private contact center application and call control in the cloud, leaving agent and trunking facilities at the business premise.  This balanced hybrid approach satisfies the control-freak in most contact center managers, while offering a reduced dependence on WAN facilities for greater reliability.

Comparing the three common contact center architectures:

Architecture Control Security Resilience Capital Costs
On Premise Greatest Greatest Least Greatest
Public Cloud Least Least Moderate Least
Private/Hybrid Moderate Moderate Greatest Moderate

While no one single architecture is right for every contact center, hopefully you are now better prepared to weigh the risks and rewards for your implementation. To learn more about cloud contact center solutions and architectures for resilience and reliability, visit the Contact Resource landing page at: