Built for the Cloud vs Hosted in the Cloud

By Tim Anderson, Platform28 on December 22, 2016

Most companies have realized the benefits of moving their call center solution to the cloud. Analyst studies provide clear indications that all growth in the contact center market is in the cloud. It’s becoming clear to customer engagement and technology leaders that to respond to customer demands, improve speed and lower costs, the cloud provides a clear and proven path.

That said, with traditional premise-based vendors providing their version of “cloud” or “hybrid” solutions in order to provide simple migration paths or to help companies write down sunk licensing and hardware costs, the conversation about “cloud” gets very confusing.

It is crucial to understand the differences between solutions built for the cloud which include an API led architecture versus solutions hosted in the cloud. The reality is that most of those companies are really providing nothing more than their premise solution or a slight variation thereof on a hosted server.

On the surface, this may seem sufficient. You no longer have to worry about buying servers, so you have the benefits of the cloud, right? Actually, that is wrong! We are seeing this with large providers who are going bankrupt or can’t successfully get to the cloud. Their systems are hardware and traditional licensing dependent. They also can’t be as flexible in software or licensing options as cloud providers. Being built for the cloud and being moved on to a cloud server are very different.

Built for the cloud means integrations are easier because of an open architecture, geographic distribution is easier, peaks and valleys, etc are all easier. Built for on premise and taken to the cloud means you struggle with hardware issues. For example, traditional large premise-based instances don’t work, at all, when you put those large hardware instances in AWS, Azure, Google, etc. There are lots of the issues of hardware dependency on the call center/agent side. It also means that you are working in a closed or mostly closed system instead of being able to easily tie in additional tools, technology, and proprietary solutions with strong API’s.

There are many issues below the surface with on premise solutions that continue when a provider just moves their solution to the cloud vs building it for the cloud.

prem-v-cloud

If you’re an enterprise or a savvy mid-sized customer it is vital that you suss out how “real” the provider’s cloud solution is:

  1. Ability to Scale – How has this provider scaled to support real enterprise demands? Even if you’re not a huge customer, having a provider that’s scaled will give you assurances that they can handle extreme demands, peaks and valleys and the uptime requirements of big customers.
  2. Adapting to Changing Needs – How do we future proof? Open architecture is not all the same. In customer engagement, new channels and new ways to understand the massive data are coming along quickly. Bots and deep learning are changing the lay of the land almost faster than folks can follow. Social media is becoming more and more popular as a means of contacting companies. Our entire platform leverages APIs that we use internally for every feature and every function and which we expose to our customers. That’s not the case for the VAST majority of call center solution providers, who claim to have integrations and APIs but who can’t change quickly to meet the needs of this incredible market.
  3. Length of AgreementOld school gear required long-term agreements with less incentive to be customer focussed. True cloud options typically have shorter contracts and customer are able to switch often and quickly if they feel the need. We hang our hat on high customer retention.
  4. Standard Support Provided – Premise solutions with long contracts have the ability to provide somewhat questionable support. True cloud providers have to prove their customer support chops every day because they know the risk of losing valuable partners is so high.
  5. Pricing Structure – True cloud providers will typically have very predictable pricing agreements that are based on the number of licenses and may go down with the more licenses you add. Solutions that merely moved their solution to the cloud will continue to charge for server space, expensive maintenance agreements, and upgrades.

Digging into each of these items will ensure that you are finding a solution that will allow you to grow your business and add the right technology to create an exceptional customer experience. You will be able to do this knowing that you are going to have the support that you need and at the right price. Mostly importantly, you will have confidence knowing that you have the best solution for your organization.