The Reality of Failure-Proof Systems in the Cloud

February, 2019

How often does the server/virtualisation stack fail? We take some examples from our own experience and identify 3 things you can do to get you close to 5 nines up-time.
As an OEM software vendor providing technology to integrators and carriers, failsafe systems are our lifeblood.  This gives us some unique insights into how to achieve high uptime in reality. Traditional strategies for High Availability (HA) revolve around redundancy at a process, VM and physical infrastructure level to minimise risk of outage, and minimise recovery time when outage occurs.  But how often does the server/virtualisation stack fail?  Let’s take some examples from our own experience.

Sytel has around 30 rackmount servers in the computer room at our R&D labs. We manage them well and over the last 15 years we have had:

  • one server outage because of a memory chip failure
  • one network switch failure

Downtime virtually zero.  Maybe good management on our part but really an indication of what can be achieved with hardware.

On the software side; yes you can set up services and VMs to fail over to a redundant backup, but unless your contact center software stack does this for you automatically, the management overhead of setup and the likelihood of misconfiguration, virtualisation-based HA is just a fig leaf.

There is another reason why the holy grail of 5 nines uptime can be difficult to achieve with software.  If the software itself is well-proven and reliable, the biggest sources of real-world failure in large-scale contact center systems are:

  • Load-related database errors (both Relational and NoSQL databases)
  • Server OS handling of extreme network load
  • Too much work being done by one application instance

HA solutions per se don’t solve these problems.  But there are three things you can do, in particular, to mitigate the problems that arise here:

  1. Perform application-level caching and support for rollforward recovery on failure for all services that write to the contact center database.
  2. Ensure your platform’s internal signalling protocols (the things that control system state) are hardened to deal with temporary network glitches.
  3. Ensure your system architecture is componentised and able to multiplex everything in order to achieve scale and limit cost of component failure.

If you ensure your platform does these three things (and destruction test to make sure that it does!) then this will get you much closer to 5 nines uptime, rather than just implementing redundant services, virtualisation-based failover and redundant hardware.

It’s not received wisdom, but it’s definitely common sense!

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

Flexible Contact Center Platform

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

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Partners can run a functionally rich and flexible contact center stack in the cloud

Blended Media Desktop

Blended Media Desktop

Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

Work Anywhere

Work Anywhere

Browser-based tools, no software installation required

Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

Scalable, resilient, secure, proven

Customise, Localise, White Label

Customise, Localise, White Label

Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

Integration Via APIs

Integration Via APIs

'Swap out' components and integrate with 3rd party apps

World Class Development

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

All Media Types

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

Agent Multi-Tasking

Agent Multi-Tasking

Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

Dynamic Workforce Management

Dynamic Workforce Management

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

Predictive Dialing

Predictive Dialing

Best-of-breed performance under compliance

Optimised Inbound Routing

Optimised Inbound Routing

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

Agent Scripts

Agent Scripts

Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

Voice and Screen Recording

Voice and Screen Recording

See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

Analytics and Data Feeds

Analytics and Data Feeds

Measure and evaluate performance at every level

IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

Customer Journey Tracking

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™

Softdial One™

Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

Softdial Scripter™

Softdial Scripter™

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

Sytel AI Dialer™

Sytel AI Dialer™

Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

Softdial Pathfinder™

Softdial Pathfinder™

Precise routing rules for 'best available' connection

Softdial Media Server™

Softdial Media Server™

Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

Softdial Reporter™ 5

Softdial Reporter™ 5

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

Softdial Publisher™

Softdial Publisher™

Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

Softdial Recording Monitor™

Softdial Recording Monitor™

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

Softdial Campaign Manager™

Softdial Campaign Manager™

Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

Softdial Repository™

Softdial Repository™

Central storage and configuration of common resources

Sytel Global Compliance™

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

Customer Service

Connect quickly to well equipped agents

Sales & Telemarketing

Sales & Telemarketing

Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing

Healthcare

Healthcare

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

Market Research

Market Research

Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

Collections

Collections

Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app