Can You Spare A Minute?

February, 2012

As delivery of cloud computing services threatens to become a way of life, it is timely to look at where vendors like ourselves should be concentrating their efforts to ensure high availability.

As delivery of cloud computing services threatens to become a way of life, it is timely to look at where vendors like ourselves should be concentrating their efforts to ensure very high uptime, or if you like, to ensure that outage over long periods of time is measured in seconds and minutes only.

The main job of a software vendor is of course to design software that not only can be deployed fully redundant but is also engineered well in the first place, so that it doesn’t fail.

But from a user’s point of view, there are a number of other things that also need to be on place to ensure very high up time. These include:

  • a ‘no single point of failure’ (redundant) hardware architecture
  • connections to multiple bearer networks
  • appropriate levels of system monitoring
  • strict change control

Without these features, even the best call center software in the world may simply fail to deliver. But let’s focus on what software vendors can do.

Outage can cost not only revenue but reputation damage, too. If the outage is caused by a software component within your platform, even a fully redundant architecture will not protect you.

Here are two complementary software approaches to minimising down-time:

  1. Process separation
    i.e. dividing server-side components into discrete services, each delivering a specific function. This minimises complexity of components, ring-fences failure-prone operations and therefore minimises failure rates and failure cost.One application of this might be a database proxy that contains code to manage database transaction failure. It publishes interfaces so that other services can take advantage of its capabilities. This means that there is only one application that has to implement complex code for managing database transaction failure but its capabilities can be used by other applications.
  2. Multiplexing
    i.e. running one activity across several physical processes. This could be across multiple discrete instances (multi-instancing), or multiple connected instances (clustering):
    a) Multi-instancing
    Multi-instancing allows software components to be installed multiple times on the same computer, allowing each component to operate simultaneously but independently; or allowing different types of data to be associated with different instances, e.g. tenant data in a multi-tenant environment.By multi-instancing, the load on each service is reduced, and the likelihood and cost of failure is reduced.

    b) Clustering
    A cluster consists of a set of connected servers (physical or virtual) that work together so that in many respects they can be viewed as a single system.

    Performance, capacity and availability can be scaled up across multiple systems at a fraction of the cost it would take to achieve in a single system.

    Further protection can be provided by making one node of the cluster redundant, and maintained as a ‘hot standby’. This entails deploying N+1 servers to deliver N servers worth of capacity. Deploying a redundant cluster requires the running of a central control process, or script, for making bridging decisions.

High availability is a must-have for cloud deployments, and with the right design and some careful planning, it is certainly achievable (without astronomical expense).

Stay tuned as we look in more depth at the detail of delivering high availability in future blogs.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

  • Flexible Contact Center Platform

    Softdial Contact Center™ – tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

  • Blended Media Desktop

    Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

  • Work Anywhere

    Browser-based tools, no software installation required

  • Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

    Scalable, resilient, secure, proven

  • Customise, Localise, White Label

    Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

  • Integration Via APIs

    ‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

  • World Class Development

    Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries

Capabilities

Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

  • All Media Types

    Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended

  • Agent Multi-Tasking

    Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

  • Dynamic Media Blending

    Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to blend and balance work load across all media types

  • Predictive Dialing

    Best-of-breed performance under compliance

  • Intelligent Routing

    Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

  • Agent Scripts

    Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

  • Voice and Screen Recording

    See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

  • Analytics and Data Feeds

    Measure and evaluate performance at every level

  • IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

    Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

  • Customer Journey Tracking

    Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations

Modules

A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment

  • Softdial One™

    Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

  • Softdial Scripter™

    Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

  • Sytel AI Dialer™

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

  • Softdial Pathfinder™

    Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

  • Softdial Media Server™

    Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

  • Softdial Reporter™ 5

    Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

  • Softdial Publisher™

    Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

  • Softdial Recording Monitor™

    Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

  • Softdial Campaign Manager™

    Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

  • Softdial Repository™

    Central storage and configuration of common resources

  • Sytel Global Compliance™

    Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer

Markets

Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

  • Customer Service

    Connect quickly to well equipped agents

  • Sales & Telemarketing

    Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing

  • Healthcare

    Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care

  • Market Research

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

  • Collections

    Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app