Why Amazon Web Services for PureCloud?
Interactive Intelligence has placed bets on AWS for its multitenant cloud solution, but it has its pros and cons.
Last week Interactive Intelligence held its annual, global Interactions event for users, partners, analysts, and consultants. The big news was the introduction of PureCloud Engage, the customer engagement component of the company's multi-tenant PureCloud platform (detailed in an earlier No Jitter post from Michelle Burbick).
After attending the keynote presentations and a few breakout sessions, one of the common themes in PureCloud discussions was that the solution is delivered on Amazon Web Services (AWS). To learn more, I sat down with Glenn Nethercutt, Interactive Intelligence Chief Architect for PureCloud, responsible for overall AWS architecture strategy: scalability, multi-region strategy, fault tolerance, disaster recovery, service consistency, new technology evaluation, and continuous delivery mechanisms. I also met with Jason Alley, Solutions Marketing Manager for PureCloud Engage and reviewed a presentation delivered at the conference by an AWS Solution Architect, Scott Ward.
Alley and Nethercutt emphasized three key advantages AWS provides to PureCloud:
- Load-balancing and fault tolerance: AWS has a three-tiered architecture. There are 11 regions; each region is a separate geographic area (e.g., U.S. East in Virginia, U.S. West in California, EU (one in Ireland and one in Frankfurt). Each region has multiple, isolated locations known as availability zones, and there are currently 30 of these (e.g., there are five for the U.S. East region). This footprint is supported by many edge locations, from which content can be served for even faster response times. To date, PureCloud has been deployed in one U.S. and one Asian region; EU region (Ireland) deployment is underway, and more regions will be added over time.
- Analytics: Alley and Nethercutt both discussed the back-end AWS database systems that PureCloud leverages. Data will be stored in raw format, and data aggregation will happen in real-time, "on the fly." Nethercutt further described how AWS makes multiple types of database technologies available, saying, "Database-wise, we are very polyglot." During the development stage, PureCloud architects could run several databases concurrently and choose the one with the best performance for a specific task. Using AWS also allows them to choose different databases for different tasks.
In the future, Nethercutt said PureCloud might also employ the Amazon Machine Learning service, to take artificial intelligence to smaller problems than has been cost-effectively possible in the past.
- Network Operations Center (NOC): Interactive Intelligence had to build its own NOC for its multi-instance (single-tenant) cloud service, CaaS, Alley explained. Amazon has spent billions of dollars building out its infrastructure, which can be leveraged for PureCloud.
The graphic below highlights one of my key takeaways: Of the 50 services and applications that comprise the AWS platform, Interactive Intelligence is using 30, or 60%, to deploy PureCloud. As Nethercutt explained, the choice of AWS was not just about virtualization of the PureCloud application in the cloud, it was also about services. Using AWS services allows Interactive Intelligence to concentrate on application development, not on building utilities. Nethercutt says that Amazon likes to describe this as them handling the "undifferentiated heavy lifting." Ultimately this should mean a shorter time-to-market.
Possible Downsides of Using AWS
For all its advantages, using Amazon Web Services is not without its drawbacks. Currently AWS has no data center on the African continent, of concern to Interactive Intelligence partners and customers in South Africa, where the company has a growing presence. Asked about this during the final session of the conference, CEO Don Brown walked through the fact that AWS supplies the application logic, but not the telephony communications services. A South African customer could be supported from a region in Australia with no detrimental latency and have communications capability provided locally via the Interaction Edge device.
A potentially bigger drawback is the customer or partner who wants its own "copy" of PureCloud to run in its own datacenter. Because of the interdependencies between PureCloud and Amazon Web Services, while possible, it would likely require a complex hybrid model to deploy.
Both of these potential drawbacks are long-term issues. In the short and medium term, Interactive Intelligence has plenty of geographic and market segment opportunity to harvest with PureCloud.
To read up on the other components of Interactive's PureCloud solution, Collaborate and Communicate, see "Interactive Intelligence Goes Even Bigger on Cloud."