Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
Read Full Bio >>

Matt Brunk | January 14, 2013 |


The Cloud: Front End Alignment

The Cloud: Front End Alignment What starts in the cloud, stays in the cloud. We aren't using up our local resources.

What starts in the cloud, stays in the cloud. We aren't using up our local resources.

In a recent post, Who Moves To the Cloud?, I identified three traits that I found attractive in finding a hosted voice services provider.

These three traits:

* Make it easy to do business
* Provide an interface that's easy to use and understand
* Ongoing customer engagement

These are what enticed me to consider and then move some of our voice services to the cloud. While we haven't gone live by porting our numbers, we are using active numbers in a live system. Fortunately, I've been given free rein with some boundaries to test, evaluate and demonstrate these services.

My ultimate goal is to move Voice Mail/Automated Attendant (VM/AA) components to the cloud. There are two methodologies in accomplishing this task. First is the front-end task of placing the Automated Attendant (AA) function in the cloud. The back-end task of Voice Mail (VM) is the other.

My reasoning for doing this started with our internal energy efficiency efforts. We can reduce our monthly electric usage by 48 Kilowatt-Hours. In turn, this reduces rack space and cooling. Our ultimate goal is to install an alternative energy power plant in hopes of becoming energy neutral, or producing the same amount of energy that we consume.

This was the fancy of striving for energy efficiency. But there are also key benefits for moving VM/AA components to the cloud, and good reasons to do it. I am only going to address what we have tested and proven between cloud services and premise-based services.

Key Benefits
Traffic Efficiency--Businesses that front-end their telephone system with the AA in lieu of live operators can use a key metric to quickly decide whether moving the AA to the cloud is worth it for them. Abandoned calls is that key metric.

Callers landing on an AA and then disconnecting have used your line, trunk or link (bandwidth) and utilized those system resources with premise-based solutions. Once they land and then disconnect for whatever reason, your resources have been used. It is not uncommon to find a 30-50% call abandonment rate. This is a significant indicator of wasted resources. Those same callers may have caused peak traffic conditions for other customers, such as busies or long queue times. Getting too many customer complaints can drive companies to install more lines and infrastructure to handle more calls. Moving the AA to the cloud keeps those same abandonments in the cloud and not my local resources (lines, trunks, link bandwidth) and PBX resources.

Improved Management--Changing call flows on the fly to put calls where we want them to go, and doing so via a web interface from any location. We need not call the provider; we simply drag and drop the changes we want, using the web interface from any location.

Reduced Risk--The key component of a VM/AA system is the conventional hard drive, and these drives will fail. PBXs with in-skin VM/AA that utilize a single hard drive also risk failure. Some systems have RAID configurations for redundancy and/or recovery. Others virtualize. Still, the onsite hard drive remains a key single point of failure.

I think the odds favor the hosted solution by using their redundancy and infrastructure. You could argue that this is a perceived risk, but when it comes to restoration of services or disaster recovery, I don't think premise solutions have the same vitality as the hosted.

In the above screen shot, our AA is configured using an off premise extension 300: a SIP phone. This extension is a Panasonic KX-UT670. Callers that want to discuss hosted services press 1 and are routed to extension 300, and if the user at extension 300 doesn't answer, calls then forward to voice mail (VM) on the hosted provider system.

Other features include simultaneous ringing of other numbers, call forwarding or overflow to other extensions, different routing based on time/day/holiday. Callers that want to leave a message press 2 and are routed to a mailbox. Then, callers that want to reach Telecomworx dial 3 and are routed to the SIP trunks connected to our PBX and they ring on a ring group.

Again, other features are available. The last option we set up was to create a conference room that allows callers to conference with us; again what starts in the cloud, stays in the cloud. We aren't using up our local resources.

Now, the really cool feature is the integration of the two dial plans. The hosted solution routes 1xx and 2xx calls over the SIP trunks to our PBX as Intercom or extension-to-extension dialing. We mapped out 3xx for off-premise extensions so when any of our PBX users dial 3xx their calls route over the SIP trunks to the hosted PBX and ring the appropriate station.

Why Move AA to the cloud?
Earlier I stated there are good reasons.

We have customers on legacy systems as old as 20 years. AA failures aren't always easily restored and done cost effectively.

Customers that want to upgrade can easily leverage a hosted solution like this and do so economically and easily while preserving their existing investment.

Consolidation is a huge reason for multi-sites to reduce their local resources and costs and leverage cloud services. Let the cloud do the aggregation of services and then manage the call flow to each location.

Follow Matt Brunk on Twitter and Google+!
Matt Brunk on Google+


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.