By Tom Schollmeyer, Chief Technology Officer, Five9
There is no denying that cloud computing is one of the hottest trends in the tech industry. While incredibly popular, the cloud is still fairly new. The move from “old school” on premise computing to the “new school” cloud is a significant shift that naturally comes with a certain amount of anxiety and uncertainty.
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the significant advantages the cloud offers, it:
– Enables businesses to focus on their core competency
– Enables rapid time to benefit
– Empowers individual business units
– Simplifies technology decisions with sand boxes, preconfigured environments and the elimination of capital investments
– Allows companies to control costs with “pay as they grow” or “pay for usage” plans
– Lets a contact center easily increase or decrease the number of agents supported
Despite these benefits, technology buyers continue to have concerns about the cloud. I’m calling these concerns myths, because they are based more on hearsay rather than fact, and I’m going to debunk each one.
Myth#1 – The cloud is not secure.
Frankly, concerns about cloud security are no more valid than concerns about on premise security. Software providers that deliver solutions via the cloud have a vested interest in keeping the service highly secure. Unlike a single organization where security is part of one IT professional’s job, most cloud software companies have a team of security experts whose core competency and day-to-day job is ensuring a secure cloud environment. Typically, a cloud software vendor applies more effort and resources to security than any one single organization.
Security in the cloud has increasingly become more sophisticated. Most reputable cloud vendors use hardware that resides in security patrolled, disaster-proof data centers. Today, cloud vendors take advantage of multi-threaded distributed intrusion detection models, security information and event management systems and distributed application firewalls. We’ve also seen a proliferation of cloud security industry standards and certifications, such as the Cloud Security Alliance’s (CSA) Security, Trust & Assurance registry that encourages transparency of security practices among cloud vendors. In addition, the Service Organization Control (SOC) 1, 2 & 3 audit standards for data centers and the CSA developed the Cloud Control Matrix, a set of security controls.
Security threats in the cloud are no greater, and in many cases much less common, than those faced by on-premise systems.
Myth#2 – The cloud cannot scale for large enterprises.
The truth is actually just the opposite; one single organization is less likely to be able to scale more than a cloud software vendor. When delivering software in the cloud, the concept of economies of scale is key, so most cloud vendors build their solutions from the ground up with an innate ability to scale. In the contact center world this becomes particularly relevant, as contact centers often need to quickly ramp agents up and down for different seasons or campaigns.
One analogy that comes to mind when discussing the scalability of the cloud is comparing it to a power grid. In the mid-1800s during the industrial revolution, the electricity used to light factories was limited to specific cities and in many cases was unreliable and costly. Most businesses invested heavily in building their own power plants, which were expensive and required experts to operate. The emergence of the power grid created a vastly more efficient paradigm – individuals, communities and industries now had access to affordable, scalable and reliable energy giving them more time to focus on their business. Cloud computing is the same; cloud software providers can deliver robust, enterprise applications as a service which is affordable, scalable and reliable.
Myth#3 – The cloud will replace IT.
As noted in this Forbes article, “The problem with the equation cloud computing = IT job losses is that it’s a gross oversimplification.” As more and more organization deploy cloud solutions, IT plays the critical role of understanding the overall enterprise strategy and takes responsibility for bringing together a myriad of cloud solutions. IT can help a company realize the full value of the cloud across the entire organization without the burden of day-to-day application management. In fact, the role of the enterprise architect is quickly becoming the most important IT staff job. The enterprise architect is responsible for the integration of virtualized IT environments and requires not only significant technical skills but also strong business communication skills.
I was recently at an event and was speaking with the IT Director of a $2+ billion company, and his thoughts echoed my own. He said, “The job of IT is changing, it’s now our job to solve issues like: How do we share data? Are we going to plumb the voice and the data together? When we buy another application or another group wants to join how will that work?”
Myth#4 – The cloud can’t be customized.
The idea that software in the cloud is not customizable is one that has been perpetuated by on premise software vendors and is simply false. In fact, software in the cloud can absolutely be modified to meet a particular organizations needs and in many cases it is less expensive to accomplish than with on premise software. Open APIs enable cloud vendors to deliver low-cost customization options to customers. Most cloud software providers also offer tools that enable custom fields, tables, screens and reporting. Similar to other cloud software vendors, the Five9 cloud contact center solution is the same basic offering for all of our clients. However, we provide the ability to customize each instance based on a specific clients needs.
At Five9, delivering our contact center infrastructure solutions via the cloud has helped our clients very quickly get their contact centers up and running – they only need to supply agents with computers, headsets and an Internet connection. Many of our clients have struggled with the misconceptions outlined above. But they’ve since discovered that, by shifting the burden of managing the contact center software to Five9, they are able to focus on their core competency – building a customer engagement center of excellence.
About Tom Schollmeyer, Chief Technology Officer, Five9: Tom has worked in the contact center industry for more than 15 years. Prior to joining Five9, Tom was Contact Center Operations Practice Leader for OneSource, focused on providing clients of all sizes with innovative technologies and processes to measure and improve customer satisfaction while reducing cost per call. Tom founded Argent Voice Services, Inc., which hosted Interactive Voice Response systems for Fortune 1000 companies; Argent was acquired by Phase 2 Solutions, a call center outsourcing company. As the CIO of Phase 2, Tom helped build the company from 200 agents to more than 2,800 in two years. Phase 2 was then acquired by eTelecare Global Solutions where Tom served as the vice president of telecom and technology. In this role his team consolidated the two company infrastructures, and supplied critical new technologies, supporting the growth of the company from 5,000 to 15,000+ agents. Prior to Argent, Tom was co-founder of ASA Solutions, named a Dun & Bradstreet Top 100 Fastest Growing Company, providing Interactive Voice Response application development and staffing resources to Fortune 500 companies.