The Cloud Breaks
Complex support models require more sophisticated cloud solutions. Here’s why…
Martin Schneider, SugarCRM
Martin Schneider is senior director of communications, SugarCRM. Martin handles competitive intelligence, marketing positioning and press/analyst relations; he was previously news editor with CRM Magazine in New York
Just as outsourcing takes geography out of the equation from a people perspective, cloud computing has the potential to offer a far more valuable CRM and call centre software scenario for outsourced agents and the firms they represent. However, it is important to distinguish antiquated SaaS models from the more modern, open cloud applications emerging as market leaders today. While multi-tenant SaaS made web-based applications popular, and a viable alternative to even less efficient client/server application models, there are now many drawbacks. The reliance on a single multi-tenant data centre means that access levels, performance and availability for organisations with a global outsourcing model suffer several limitations to customisation, data access and export, and of course system performance issues accessing a single data centre from around the globe.
Light, open infrastructure
Enter the open cloud. These modern, flexible and open applications are built on a cloud model that supports scalability, portability and a more global-access friendly deployment model. Open cloud applications are not tethered to a single multi-tenant environment; rather the application infrastructure is light and open – able to be replicated by many partners and end-user organisations to better benefit the user. A common illustration of how this benefits outsourcers is as follows. A large US-based company might be using a CRM system for its sales and marketing, but outsource its customer support operations to the Philippines. If the CRM were housed in a single multi-tenant database, the US-based company would have limited capability to customise its application to incorporate outsourced users inside the same English-based system, and those Manila-based users would experience less-than-stellar performance calling back to the US data centre.
Follow the sun
But with the open cloud, this use case takes on a very different face. The US-based organisation now has many choices to deploy a CRM system that keeps its in-house and outsourced agents on the same page without a lot of batch processing of data between disparate CRM deployments. For example, the US organisation could be running its CRM in the cloud using Amazon Web Services. During US business hours it might have that CRM spun up in a manner optimised for US access. Using what is being called a “follow the sun” strategy, after close of business in the US the CRM deployment could be spun up on different Amazon servers that make for a greater performance for the Philippines-based agents. This type of portability and flexibility is simply not available in older multi-tenant SaaS models. This is just one example of how a multinational company leveraging outsourced agents could take advantage of open cloud applications. The beauty of the distributed SaaS nature of true cloud applications is the choice it offers IT decision-makers. Because open cloud can be distributed across several cloud environments, the sample company mentioned above could also create separate instances of its CRM housed in two different cloud environments (Amazon in the US and Rackspace in Asia-Pac for example) and manage those applications with efficiency while benefiting from true customisation and localised access and performance.
Flexible, portable, low-risk
While Software as a Service applications led the way for modern and flexible web-based applications, there are numerous limitations to the multi-tenant model these products took on. Thankfully, SaaS has evolved into the open cloud – which gives users flexible, portable applications with the low-risk deployment model that Software as a Service introduced to the market.