Choosing An Off-site Or Hosted Back-up Solution For Your Business
Part 2 of 2 by Bill Curtin, IV
Depending on how you structure your hosted solution, there can be lots of ways to lower the total cost of the business. Call centers may have fewer expensive technical staff to support the system, but you must realize that lots of technical support for on-premises workstations, phone lines and Internet connectivity is still needed with a hosted solution.
Before signing a hosted solution contract, every piece of hardware the call centers data will touch should be identified. All hardware that is not redundant or shared should be identified along with all hardware dedicated to your solution. If the solution has non-redundant or shared hardware, this could have an impact on the quality of service the call center can provide.
Likewise, every circuit that data travels over needs to be identified. All phone lines should travel on Synchronous Optical Networking (SONET) rings, and all Internet connections should use Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to freely access multiple Internet providers. Phone calls should only travel on the PSTN or on an MPLS network, and never over the Internet. All service risks need to be identified before a contract is signed.
Lastly, and most importantly, check resources before signing any agreement. A good reference check will contain questions that address level of service, technical support responses and interactions with the hosting facility’s billing department.
Is an off-site or hosted back-up solution a good fit for your business?
For call centers that are happy with their on-premise solutions, there are still lots of ways advances in technology can improve the reliability of your call center and potentially reduce your bottom line.
Many call centers now offer nationwide service. And customers expect all calls to be answered. They are less tolerant of unanswered calls caused by a local disaster. By creating an off-site back-up system in a geographically diverse location, call centers can protect themselves from these unforeseen occurrences, thus preventing a situation in which a call center can’t take calls for hours or days.
Call centers with multiple locations are easily able to create off-site backup solutions at their other offices. For single-location call centers, it is more challenging. Consider a partnership with another trusted call center, creating a situation in which both call centers can provide service in times of emergency.
Another solution is to contact your switch vendor about hosted back-up solutions. Vendors that have infrastructure in place for their own systems could also host or co-locate a back-up solution.
When creating an off-site back-up solution, you need to coordinate with your telephony provider. Many providers have options to forward calls to another number in the event of a service outage, and SIP providers can forward telephone calls to another IP address on an MPLS network, and in some instances, to an IP address.
The challenge with off-site back-up solutions is finding the best solution to protect your business needs while keeping the costs in check.
Is a co-located call center a good fit for your business?
Another option to investigate is co-locating your system at a data center. This will improve the reliability of your telephone and Internet connectivity and your electrical power.
When using a telephony solution at a data center, be certain your telephony provider delivers a “Meet Me” telephone line. The “Meet Me” line is terminated at the phone company Central Office and the data center provides the information to connect the phone line to its SONET ring. The data center then runs the phone connection into your rack.
The biggest challenge in co-locating your data center is finding the right partner data center. Data centers come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. Also, when looking at co-locating your system, check with your system provider. Call center solution providers that offer hosted solutions will have the resources to co-locate your hardware and to fully support your system.
Bill Curtin, IV is corporate IS/IT manager for Amtelco/1Call and manages the three data centers that Amtelco/1Call uses to provide customer solutions.