By Patrick Barnard
, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
If you’re an executive or high-level manager in charge of technology expenditures and you are considering making the leap to hosted or SaaS (News
)-based call center technology, you should definitely know the difference between the two. After some research and discussion with your IT team and/or technology consultants, you’ll likely conclude that SaaS-based software holds numerous advantages over the traditional hosted model, and will better meet your business needs.
Call center software vendors are increasingly recoding their applications, hosting them on a shared secure platform in the data center and delivering them by way of the SaaS model. This works out well for the vendors because it facilitates increased uptake of their solutions, and also enables them to more quickly roll out new capabilities and features based on customer demand.
The SaaS model also enables vendors to “virtualize” their applications – meaning the applications and data can be accessed via any computer with a Web browser and high speed Internet connection. This eliminates the need to establish dedicated connections between the vendor’s hosting facility and the customers’ facilities and greatly simplifies the challenge of providing access for agents and other employees.
With a SaaS or “virtualized” call center network, a supervisor or agent can log onto the system from any computer, no matter where it is located, with a secure user name and password. Thus it is an ideal architecture for geographically-dispersed centers and for facilitating the much-coveted home-based agent model. This “virtualization” capability is perhaps the biggest advantage SaaS has over hosted.
Very often the traditional hosted model means taking a client server application and simply hosting it on a server at the vendor’s site. In other words, the vendor takes an application that wasn’t originally designed to be hosted in the first place, makes a few changes to it and then delivers it to each customer over the Web or dedicated network via a single, dedicated server.
This hosted model has numerous disadvantages compared to SaaS: For one thing, having a dedicated server per customer is much more expensive compared to SaaS, where multiple customers can access the applications from a single server or set of servers. This sharing of computing resources makes delivery many times more efficient and economical, thus reducing the overall cost of the service. What’s more, hosted or premise-based solutions often require the customer to install software on their site in order to secure communications, thus adding to the cost. Whereas with SaaS all communications are already encrypted -- security becomes the service provider’s responsibility.
In addition, the traditional hosted model tends to be less scalable since the customer is limited to the single server that runs the application. If a client needs increased performance for running data intensive forecasting and scheduling scenarios the server might become overtaxed and could incur service disruptions. With the SaaS or “virtualized” model of delivery, multiple servers in the data center can be used for “overflow” purposes (also called “elastic cloud” computing), thus all the computing resources available can be utilized in the event network traffic peaks.
Next week we’ll look at some more of the advantages SaaS brings to the call center.