High Availability – Seeing The Bigger Picture

August, 2012

Some vendors' claims for very high uptime - maybe 99.999% - refer to software only. But for cloud-based contact centers, the vast majority of downtime is caused by hardware and network failure. This blog looks at the real areas of risk.

For the large scale, distributed call center, or hosted/ cloud based service provider, every minute of unscheduled outage costs money in agent wages and missed opportunities. This drives a search for the Holy Grail of software that delivers very high uptime – maybe 99.999%.

Even if we believe the hype of some vendors, if we look at the bigger picture, we see that any such claims refer to software only. But in the new world of virtual, hosted and cloud-based contact centers, the vast majority of downtime is caused by hardware and network failure. And in real-life (i.e. outside of the Marketing Dept.) no-one is interested in separating out the causes of failure. Downtime is downtime, whatever the cause. So the question end users should be asking software vendors is not “How many 9’s?” but “How well does your software cope with the inevitable infrastructure failures?”

Let’s look at the areas of risk and how call center software vendors can (and should) respond to them.

Risk 1 – software failure

Yes, software sometimes fails. Call center software does not operate in a sealed, air-tight, proprietary environment as it once did; IP-based technology is open to the elements, and subject to all the outages and problems that come with distributed components and high-volume network usage.

But software vendors can employ several methods to minimise the impact of software failure:

  • Auto failover – if for some reason the software meets a condition with which it cannot cope, it should restart automatically and carry on where it left off, with minimal impact, and no manual intervention.
  • Segmentation – dividing the product into smaller and smaller discrete chunks so that the impact of any failure can be minimised.
  • Clustering – spreading the processing load between many instances, with automatic load balancing. This allows for the failure of one unit with minimal impact on the system

Risk 2 – hardware/ network failure

Hold on. Why should software vendors like Sytel be concerned about conditions beyond their control? Because any responsible vendor aims to make life as productive and trouble-free as possible for the end-user. This means providing backup and redundancy capabilities to mitigate against failures outside of the software.

As with back-up generators that take the strain after a power outage, so each component in the chain – from servers and power supplies, to voice and data networks – should have a back-up ready to take over in the event of hardware or network outage. In the case of servers/ virtual machines, this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘1 for 1’ redundancy. As it is unlikely that more than one would fail at one time, a single back-up could be configured to take over for a number of different primaries.

In order to take over automatically, any back-up must be constantly maintained to mirror the state of the primary server. This is where good software design comes in, providing a mechanism which will notice when the primary is no longer in service, and immediately kick-start the back-up.

Be prepared to ask hard questions of your supplier, like “What happens if an earthquake hits?” If the answer is “Not our problem!” you might look for a vendor that is willing to try harder and consider the bigger picture.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC) - multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions.

Available by subscription as CCaaS, fully managed and supported by Sytel, or for quick and easy deployment by partners and 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

  • Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

    CCaaS for subscribers - global service​, with no upfront costs

  • Contact Center Platform – CCaaS Partners

    Build your own CCaaS business using the power and flexibility of Sytel software

  • Contact Center Platform – Enterprise

    High performance platform to drive contact center productivity – cloud, on-premise or hybrid

Blended Media Desktop

Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

Work Anywhere

Browser-based tools, no software installation required

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 Channels

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

Agent Multi-Tasking

Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media channel

Dynamic Workforce Management

Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to manage agents and balance work load, across all media channels

Predictive Dialing

Best-of-breed performance under compliance

Optimised Inbound 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

Drive operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction & improve agent performance

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™

Maximum predictive dialing performance, 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™

Automation to optimise any outreach strategy

Softdial Repository™

Central storage and configuration of common resources

Sytel Global Compliance™

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

Solutions

Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

By Business Type

Enterprise

A full featured contact center software solution, designed for optimum performance at scale

Small/ Medium Business

Options for SMBs to subscribe to our full-featured cloud service managed and hosted by either one of our partners or by Sytel themselves

By Industry

Customer Service

Connect quickly to well equipped agents

Market Research

Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

Collections

Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app

Sales & Telemarketing

Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing

Healthcare

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