The research firm Gartner, Inc. recently stated that by the year 2020, corporations not cloud computing would be as rare as those not using the internet today. Hybrid applications, where the cloud is part of a company’s overall IT profile, will become the norm. Likewise, ContactCenterHQ reports that contact centers using the cloud are fast becoming ubiquitous. Their survey revealed 52 percent of respondents had moved their center to a cloud solution. The word ‘cloud’, however, is rather broad. Let’s take a closer look at the different cloud solutions available today.
Software as a Service
SaaS is the most common cloud service. Call centers hire a third-party cloud provider, usually on a subscription basis, who manages and updates the software. For example, consumer products like Dropbox and Google Docs are familiar SaaS products. It’s relatively simple to sign up for contact center cloud services and begin operations immediately. Typically, with a SaaS solution, call centers can modify their setup using application programming interfaces (API). Instead of having to deploy their own solution in the cloud, organizations can simply subscribe to a SaaS provider and manage costs by subscription seats. SaaS providers often offer a full slate of features including customer relation management, custom workflows, call deflection, intelligent routing, case management, management call through, as well as complete reporting and analytics.
Platform as a Service
Instead of offering an ‘out-of-the-box’ software solution like SaaS, PaaS providers sell a platform contact centers use to develop a service of their own. Subscribing to a PaaS platform lets centers order additional services as they need them, instead of investing large sums of money before knowing their requirements. It also lets them focus on customer acquisition and building the business rather than dealing with platform issues. Deploying a call center on top of a PaaS is more costly and time-consuming than a SaaS, but it offers more advantages overall. If control and customization are key, PaaS would probably be the right call.
Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS gives call centers direct access to servers and storage. It is similar to having the infrastructure on-site in that IT techs have most of the responsibility for managing and maintaining the servers. The provider is usually responsible for server uptime, redundant backups, operating system options and other services. Call centers don’t have to worry about disaster recovery, storage, hosting, redundancy or load-balancing. The center team handles all data processes within the allotted infrastructure. This is a workable solution if call centers want to invest in a full-on virtual data center in the cloud, giving them tremendous amounts of freedom. They control server use, processing, storage and networking, while only paying for the resources they actually use. Network infrastructure like MUX and PBX are still handled on site. Hosting is moved to the cloud. With IaaS, IT managers can manage the company’s own virtual machines while still maintaining a streamlined organizational structure. Challenges with an IaaS setup include having to rely on the provider for speed and uptime, possible outages, and potentially slow servers.
PaaS on the Rise
PaaS is growing fast. By 2019, the public Platform as a Service market is predicted to reach more than $22 billion around the world. IaaS and PaaS services such as Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) will grow at a faster pace than SaaS solutions in the coming years. Spending on PaaS platforms might total more than $7.5 billion by the year 2020 as programmers develop more apps for the cloud, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts. Gartner says that 50 percent of spending on PaaS will be centered on IoT capabilities by 2020.
PaaS is powerful because it allows software development teams to be more efficient and effective — programmers don’t have to think about whether their cloud deployment is private, public or a hybrid blend. Additionally, they don’t have to devote as much time and resources to running apps and services. However, there remains some confusion as to PaaS benefits over IaaS or SaaS. It’s also a challenge to find the right technical expertise to monitor and grow a PaaS deployment. According to a study by RightScale, almost a third of respondents said their IT staff was not prepared to accommodate the fast-growing workloads moving to the cloud. That result compares to 27 percent of respondents making the same case in 2015.
Despite these challenges, PaaS will continue to experience robust growth in the coming years. Call center leaders and IT managers must consider the amount of customization they need in a cloud solution. When a SaaS is too restricting, and an IaaS service is overly broad and too expensive, PaaS cloud computing might just be the perfect solution.