11 Guiding Principles for Migrating an On-Premise Contact Centre Into The Cloud

A paper on how to accelerate cloud strategy, deliver innovation and how to do more with what you have. From what to expect from migrating to the cloud, tips on managing it well and how to make it cost-effective.

Why Read this?

If you have an on-premise contact centre application, such as telephony, call recording, wfm, quality, and are considering migrating it to the cloud as part of your Digital Transformation, whether that be Azure, AWS, GCloud or another, then this might be for you. (For the purpose of this paper we will refer to these cloud platforms as “The Cloud”). This is a set of tips, guides and must-do’s based on our experience.. We realised there is a lot of technical information out there, but not much on general guiding principles. We hope this helps;

Subjects covered;

a) How to demonstrate value from migrating to the cloud
b) When is a cloud really The Cloud
c) Realising benefits for your contact centre operational team
d) The architecture options
e) Cloud migration strategy options
f) What the cloud vendors don’t tell you
g) The differences when supporting cloud v on prem
h) How to choose a partner
i) How it can free your IT team up and reduce the non value tasks

Who will find this useful

This paper is meant as a general guide and does not cover all technical aspects, it is useful for;

● C level execs wanting an overview of migrating to the cloud
● Contact Centre and CX Directors, wanting to understand their options, and how to realise value from an IT project
● Digital Transformation Managers looking for an understanding of how to ensure Cloud supports the end to end CX process
● Procurement and Bid Management professionals tasked with buying cloud migration services
● IT teams looking to build and support a cloud based contact centre
● Service delivery team who will be supporting the cloud based applications, and delivering the value to the business

Quick Market Focus

If the analysts and our own experience is right, over 75% of all contact centres are considering The Cloud in one way or another. The benefits are well documented and marketed by the vendors;

● Moving expenditure from Capex to Opex
● Up to 35% less downtime
● Automatic capacity management – no need to guess capacity
● Agility supports innovation – no need to buy /commit to hardware purchases for a PoC
● Removes low level configuration and maintenance (the stuff that doesn’t differentiate)
● Quicker to deploy and implement
● Can provide greater security
● Flexibility and scalability to support business changes
● Ease of managing remote agents
● Standardisation of global service
● Effortless upgrades and new features regularly
● Data visibility and customisation in real-time

These are all generally correct depending on your deployment, and we at acrinax are huge advocates of moving applications to the cloud and hope to help you if it’s in your plans.

1. How to Realise Value

A contact centre which is down, has very little value, however a contact centre which cannot adapt, will eventually also reduce value to any business trying to keep up with customer demands. Therefore when asking a business to invest in The Cloud it is important to take the time to understand the value expected by the stakeholders, and when they will be realised and how they are measured. Below are examples of how you, or whoever owns the project, might consider measuring the value expected from a Cloud migration project.

Takeaway tip: when you have each department and stakeholders value expectations, be sure to share
amongst all stakeholders to communicate the total value.

2. That a cloud means The Cloud

We met a company who had been approached by a ‘cloud contact centre provider’, the demo was extremely slick, references in place, global presence, it appeared on the peripheries of a Gartner quadrant (or so they said). The vendor offered 6 months ‘free’ for a three year contract. However, after 6 months and it still wasn’t working we were asked to take a look and found it wasn’t in The Cloud as we would see it, they had taken a non-cloud based product, bought an instance of it, and stuck it in two datacenters. For which they had no references, experience or support team. And it wouldn’t work with the clients SIP provider (new one on us) or integrate into the clients CRM and had no back office PBX function? So to help you avoid this we thought we’d give you the terminology to use to ask the right questions; So for a bit of clarity, there are basically three applications;

a) ‘Cloud Native’ aka ‘cloud first’ applications, which were built in AWS, Azure, Gcloud etc, are designed for the cloud, in a fully resilient scalable platform and offer all the benefits we highlighted at the beginning.
b) ‘Cloud Migrated’ These are your current on-premise based platforms, designed to sit on hardware in a data centre, which can be moved to the cloud, e.g. AWS, Azure, GCloud, and is still your application.
c) And then there are systems like the case study above which was being sold as native cloud, but was actually an on premise system, put in a data centre, and sold as cloud. So you’re paying the subscription for cloud without any of the benefits. We call these ‘Pretend Cloud’ From herein we’re only talking about Cloud Migrated, the solution for companies who have a perfectly good on-premise application but want to make the most of the Cloud.

Takeaway Tip: Take up references.

3. IT benefits of Migrating to The Cloud

Let’s take a platform like the Genesys PureConnect platform, a feature rich all in one platform which can easily be dropped into Azure and will give all the benefits of security, stability, reduced Opex, and you have a platform with better features than any cloud first platform, and you’re still making the most of your investment. Also, you may have an existing WFO platform you’d also like and want to keep. These things are expensive, require expert management and can create quite a bit of disruption when replaced. So you could lift your WFO into AWS for example. It works well, and again, many of the benefits of cloud and still realising your investment in licenses, no period of adoption and no new training.

So there are a number of IT & Service Delivery benefits to moving your on premise platform into AWS,
Azure or GCloud including;

a) Reduces hardware refresh costs, and/or hardware can be utilised elsewhere.
b) Less unplanned downtime (e.g. no limitations on storage space, power outages, network switch outages) due to elasticity providing resilience and stability.
c) Flexibility and planned scalability as additional capacity can be added considerably faster and at a fraction of the cost of internally managed hardware.
d) The cost efficiency of having UAT and Development environments which can be spun up and shut down.
e) Simplicity – Microsoft windows licensing simplified as it’s wrapped into the virtual server, which could save money as well.
f) Patches are often easier and take less time if the cloud provider’s System Manager is used to manage maintenance windows and schedule patches automatically.
g) APIs enable easy integration to management, monitoring and alerting tools. Ready to use monitoring tools like CloudWatch enables quick and efficient integrated monitoring, configured through a web console.
h) Greater security because of the platform characteristics.
i) Administration console to configure, monitor and audit for selected users, making troubleshooting easier.
j) Better governance, compliance and operational auditing inbuilt into the platform by AWS, Azure and GCloud
k) Improvements to change management. The configuration audit and assessment tools such as AWS Config https://aws.amazon.com/config/ allows you to historically track all configuration changes in the environment.
l) Due to some companies firewalls (taking PureConnect from Genesys as an example) putting this into Azure makes it very easy to integrate with other cloud based applications.

Takeaway Tip: If you have a solid on-premise platform where you have invested time, money, and it would
cause major business disruption to replace, consider moving it into The Cloud before you look to replace
it.

4. The Operational Business Benefits

Whilst yes the majority of benefits are seen as IT benefits, although arguable, stability and speed of change are also business benefits, there are a couple of key benefits reserved specifically for the business;

a) Managing home workers or remote agents is made easier because it will normally provide the ability to add internet facing services on the cloud and connect them securely directly, allowing secure homeworking can help change your recruitment profile, ease crowded building and reduce attrition through flexible working.
b) The business can have a link to the cloud monitoring to see how the infrastructure is performing, this can mean if things slow down, or stop, contact centre ops teams can help mquickly diagnose its own problems, and improve speed to being back up.

5. How a Hybrid Project can avoid the Big Reveal Project

Hybrid options can work well. If for example you have seperate voice, WFM and analytics platform, there is no necessity to suddenly shift it into the cloud in one go, as most integrate well, even over the cloud (please talk to us about integrating contact centre applications over the web when we meet – not a conversation for this article).
Lets just clarify, as these definitions get a little confusing.

– In a Multi-Cloud solution, an organisation uses multiple different public cloud services, often from multiple different providers…
– Hybrid Cloud always includes a bit of private and public.
– And there is also the Hybrid of The Cloud/On-prem. Where the solution is part in The Cloud and part on premise.

You can take a considered approach, reducing business impact and deliver applications into The Cloud one at a time. Or have a hybrid Cloud/On Prem model, where some applications have end of life hardware, however some are still delivering a perfectly good service in your own data centre on new hardware.

Takeaway Tip: Do a quick review of the solution as a whole and all architecture options before replacing perfectly good applications or hardware.

6. How The Cloud can help deliver Omnichannel and AI

If you’re looking to deliver Omnichannel and AI, having your application in The Cloud can make it easier to integrate to. For true omnichannel to work your contact centre application will need to be able to offer profile aggregation (where all of a customer profiles are held centrally) so may require access to an a cloud based database, or CRM. And most AI is cloud based (another subject but AI has to learn from all sources and be constantly updated, for it to develop, so most good AI is ‘access to’ the AI, rather than your own instance).

7. How the right partner can make all the difference (and why the customer needs to own The
Cloud contract)

The contact centre technology vendors usually have their own Cloud offering, most large SI’s have their own Cloud offering too, so if you want to migrate to Azure, AWS or GCloud use a specialist company, one which understands contact centres, cloud, service delivery, project management, digital transformation and can advise on the best solution for you, then deliver it for you. A specialist company will understand;

● What telecoms requirements are and be able to offer them
● The niche differences between GCloud, AWS and Azure and the support you can expect
● What skills you have in IT, and if they are able to manage the heavy lifting in the migration (reducing external costs)

Small secret: let the partner manage The Cloud for you, but we’d always recommend the customer owns The Cloud account, so if for any reason things change, you are not beholden to the partner or vendor (see point 9).

8. How The Cloud can reduce the need for low level IT skills

Migrating to The Cloud can mean you will need less of what some traditionally see as the lower levels of skills, and some of the more mundane tasks (patching for example). You can now offer more interesting roles to the more junior team members, remove the mundane, reduce their out of hours work, allow them to develop other areas such as configuration, dev work, analysis and architecture. So less of the housekeeping and the roles which make other departments see IT as a cost, and develop the people and skills in IT to work with the business to drive value. To share the benefits of a Cloud platform with the contact centre which are outlined in this paper.

However, you will absolutely need to invest in a good architect who understands The Cloud, ideally train from within, someone who understands the business challenge and can translate cloud capabilities to business value is worth their weight in platinum circuit boards.

9. The Cloud doesn’t mean you have to hand over the crown jewels

If you like to own your own applications which you want to migrate to The Cloud. You probably don’t want to put it in a Cloud owned and managed by someone else, we know you’re the sort that doesn’t like to be held over a barrel. And we’d agree. So use your own GCloud, Azure or AWS account, and you will always have control. Need to change your IT partner, and you can. Need control over data processing- you have it and all with the benefits of The Cloud.

10. How The Cloud Changes Service Delivery

When you change from an on premise model, to a Cloud model two things happen; Firstly if it’s a Cloud first application, you lose a little visibility on some of them, you can’t just hop down a floor to the network team and ask them what’s going on. You need to make sure you have a partner who you are sure is going to work with you. Don’t assume putting in tight availability SLA’s will drive the right behaviour. Nothing beats getting to know the support team for your partner.

Control can be better, AWS, Azure etc have wonderful config tools which allow you to capture a comprehensive history of your cloud resource configuration changes to simplify the troubleshooting of operational issues. It does make life so easy.

You need to consider the management and control of data, security, The Cloud environment, budget and services to the business. So whilst essentially, cloud is another form of delivering IT, and therefore a lot of the fundamentals of ITIL and IT service management don’t radically change. Stability and availability are now given’s, replaced by scalability and agility. Service Transition will however require a whole new set of
technical terminology to be learnt.

11. The ease of Service Management, TCO and the number of suppliers are intrinsically linked

There are some well documented abilities to reduce suppliers, moving to a cloud solution. And we’d like to reassure you, moving your on-premise Application can provide you with the opportunity to have a single supplier for SIP trunks, MPLS, Contact Centre, PBX, Non-geographic numbers etc. However, had you considered if you select the right partner you could have other applications managed.

The Cloud has provided an ideal opportunity to look at more of managed service, and allowing your internal teams to focus on configuration and working with the business to drive the real benefits of applications, rather than managing integrations, hardware and networks. Of course, keep hold of moves, adds, changes deletions and the day to day changes, as they are part of staying agile. But use a partner to help drive down the costs of managing multiple applications and external suppliers, leaving you with a single point of external service delivery management. For those in the know, we’re talking about Service Integration and Management (SIAM). In summary, The Cloud with it’s monitoring tools allows your service delivery team to stay well informed of the service, drive down costs, and make it easier for IT to focus on the business challenges.

Learning how to drive value for the business from the cloud, and generate adoption across the business is the new world for service delivery.

acrinax are a specialist contact centre technology provider, we design, build, implement and support contact centres for some of the most driven and customer focussed businesses in the UK. We help businesses drive value from their current investment in technology, improve customer service and create engaging places for agents to work.

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