Why Cloud Technology Is Taking Center Stage In Call Centers

Illustration of Spotlights on empty old wooden stageTen main reasons why cloud technology is taking center stage in call centers:

  1. Flexibility of OPEX over CAPEX. The shift from upfront capital costs to ongoing pay-as-you-go operational costs means that cloud-based solutions offer contact center managers a way to deploy new technology and scale up or down in a cost-effective way. For outsourcers and telemarketers who may have call volumes that vary dramatically depending on campaign levels, solutions with a flexible pay per usage pricing structure are particularly important.
  2. Cloud technology helps to cut costs. While cloud technology is often cheaper to acquire and run than competing on-premise systems, greater savings come from flexibility and improved efficiency. The biggest cost savings come from the flexibility that a cloud solution provides, allowing you to scale your operations to meet your changing needs. From adding seasonal employees, to handling volume spikes, to growing your permanent workforce, a cloud solution makes it easy to add or remove agents based on your business requirements.
  3. Security of the cloud. Good providers generally have better security than most of their customers. Serious cloud-based solution providers have invested very heavily in physical and logical security- which many organizations have not done themselves – as it is in the solution providers’ own best interests to do so.
  4. Cloud technology integrates with existing infrastructure. Although everyone appreciates the value of cloud solutions, inserting them into multi-faceted legacy systems environments has always been a barrier to cloud
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Chicago Taxes The Cloud

Chicagos-Staggering-New-Cloud-TaxesAs a result of two rulings, each effective July 1, 2015, the city of Chicago will attempt to tax the “Cloud” more directly and comprehensibly than any other U.S. jurisdiction. On June 9, 2015, the Chicago Department of Finance (the “Department”) issued rulings regarding (1) the application of the city’s Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax (the “Lease Transaction Tax”) to nonpossessory computer leases and (2) the application of the city’s Amusement Tax (the “Amusement Tax”) to electronically delivered amusements. (The Lease Transaction Tax and the Amusement Tax are each imposed at a 9% rate.)

Both rulings are staggering in their breadth. For example, the Amusement Tax ruling will extend the tax to streaming services for music, movies, games, and the like, as well as satellite TV delivered to a customer located in Chicago. However, the ruling does not impose the Amusement Tax on the same content when it is permanently downloaded by a consumer. The Lease Transaction Tax ruling extends the tax to the online procurement of real estate listings, car prices, stock prices, economic statistics, and “similar information or data that has been compiled, entered and stored on the provider’s computer.” In addition, under the ruling, the Lease Transaction Tax will apply to the online procurement of “word processing, calculations, data processing, tax preparation” and “other applications available to a customer through access to a provider’s computer and its software.” In the ruling, the Department expressly notes that these

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Cloud Storage Best Practices

cloud-storage-best-practicesCloud storage is a solution that users are driving IT organizations to use whether we want to or not. Just ask a sales person what they use. They will tell you how great it is and how they use it. As IT organizations, we need to take notice and understand the impact to our process and the effect to the data stored outside of our organization. Here are five things commonly misunderstood about cloud storage:

 

1. Account management – Access needs to be controlled and managed through periodic user account reviews. If users create their own access they may use personal information to set up an account. The IT organization would not have access to any of the company data the user has stored. Throughout the course of using cloud storage, users can provide others access, such as non-employees. However, failure to remove access of individuals may provide information that should not be shared or is sensitive. I recommend users review who they have provided access to every 6 months or at least yearly. The users need to review and remove any shared access no longer needed.

2. User termination management – When a user exits the company, a plan is needed for the cloud account and the data. This is an extension to #1 above. The termed employee should have their access removed from internal and external partners as part of normal off boarding. A plan for the data should be developed.

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Compliance Biggest Cloud Security Challenge

cloud-regulatory-complianceAccording to a new report by cloud security company CipherCloud, compliance is the single biggest concern for large organizations looking at cloud adoption.

The company surveyed its 100-plus large global customers and found that, for 64 percent, compliance was their top cloud security obstacle, followed by unprotected data for 32 percent.

Of those concerned most about compliance, 58 percent said that cloud services violated data protection laws in their country, 31 percent said they violated internal security policies, and 11 percent said they violated laws against moving sensitive data out of a country.

As a result of the data residency laws in particular, there were significant geographical differences in whether companies opted for encryption or tokenization.

CipherCloud’s technology allows companies to use platforms such as Salesforce, Office 365 and Gmail while encrypting sensitive data and allowing the companies to control the encryption keys. And the encryption mechanism used still allows for some functionality to be preserved, including searching and sorting while the data is still in encrypted form.

However, some countries don’t allow even encrypted data to leave their borders, and the solution there is tokenization, where the data is replaced by a random string of characters based on a look-up table retained by the company. However, this approach preserves less functionality.

In North America, tokenization is used for 15 percent of the data, while customers in Europe and the Middle East opt for it for 22 percent of protected fields, and Asia Pacific takes the lead

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Cloud Lives Up To The Hype

cloud-computing-hype-enterpriseA recent survey by communications and enterprise IT service provider Tata Communications found that enterprise organizations with more than 500 employees saw tangible benefits to their cloud computing efforts.

The survey results included 85 percent of the respondents saying that the cloud had lived up to the industry hype, while 23 percent said it had exceeded their expectations.

According to the global survey, 83 percent of the enterprises felt they had experienced benefits they didn’t expect to see. The highest-ranking benefits cited by respondents included: increased productivity (69 percent), better access to data (65 percent), and reductions in costs (63 percent.)

“This independent research shows that the cloud has exited the hype cycle and entered the real adoption phase for businesses globally,” said Julie Woods-Moss, CMO and CEO of next generation business at Tata Communications. “It is now a strategic investment and a competitive differentiator.”

The results also said that by 2014 off-premise storage will have overtaken on-premises options. On average, enterprises were forecast to have 58 percent of their computer and data storage located in the cloud in 10 year’s time compared with the current 28 percent.

On the private-cloud front, when asked how much of their IT provisions would be stored in a private cloud specifically by 2024 respondents predicted 52 percent. By contrast, 94 percent of the respondents said they would be more likely to adopt a hybrid-cloud computing model if connections with the public cloud were more predictable.

The research also suggested that

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Risks Of Shadow IT

shadow-IT-risksAs bank executives continue to debate, hesitate and worry over the security issues related to using applications that connect to the cloud, their employees are using cloud-based apps by the hundreds — often without banks’ knowledge.

The average bank had 844 cloud services in use throughout its network in the third quarter of this year, according to an analysis conducted by Skyhigh Networks, far higher than bank IT departments estimated.

“If you did a survey where you asked the financial services companies themselves [how many cloud services they use], the answer would be somewhere between 32 and 34, because you approved those,” said Rajiv Gupta, CEO of Skyhigh, which provides cloud security software.

The gap is because many employees are quietly downloading cloud services like Dropbox and Gmail, in the interest of being more productive, while a bank’s IT department is not even aware it’s happening or the potential security problems that could result. Indeed, many IT departments distrust cloud services because they do not view them as secure.

“There’s a big disconnect, and it’s frightening,” said David Albertazzi, who is senior analyst, retail banking and payments at the Aite Group. “It’s not so much about cloud computing. It’s about a failure in vendor risk management programs and overall risk assessment of the institution.”

Vendor management can often be overwhelming. Many banks deal with 500 to 1,000 venders, but only a handful are considered mission critical. But Albertazzi said it’s important that all vendors be included

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Five Steps To Implement Cloud Computing

steps-implement-cloud-computingCloud computing is no longer just the realm of experimenters. Research suggests about 86 per cent of Australian companies now use a cloud service of some type, while the rest are more than likely to deploy a service in the coming years.

Companies are finding cloud services provide the agility, flexibility and scalability they need to reduce the cost of doing business, or even completely changing the way they do it.

Although cloud services are now ‘business as usual’, each organization is at a different stage in their transition to these services. Though some companies may have already put everything and the kitchen sink on the cloud, others are still dipping their toes in the water.

At each step of the cloud journey, there are significant business decisions, obstacles and potential pitfalls that companies must consider. Here are some of the most popular steps and their considerations.

Test & development

A company’s development environment is an obvious candidate to move from in-house servers to the cloud. Due to its quickly–changing nature, the ability to rent a virtual server for hours at a time to test an application in a variety of operating systems and environments is vastly superior to purchasing bespoke hardware that may only be used for a short amount of time.

The risk is low, too, and allows IT departments to get their first taste of cloud services, and how to establish them. For many companies, this has been a business case for several years

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When Cloud Computing Goes Wrong

cloud-computing-failure-outageTechnical things go wrong. So what should businesses think about to ensure reliable and consistent operations with an added layer of complexity? The first step is recognizing that things will go wrong. Whether operations are in an in-house data center, an external commercial collocation data center, or in a hybrid cloud arrangement with workload split between in-house and cloud, the principles are the same.

Cloud Isn’t New

No matter what marketing would have us believe, cloud is not a new concept. It is simply remote hosting of some or all of the workload in a data center, and is not dissimilar in principle to 1960’s time-sharing services. The difference between 1964 and 2014 is the speed and data capacity of fiber optic cables, which open up a whole host of new possibilities to business owners.. But the principle remains the same as do the principles of resilient design. As some or all of the workload can be hosted remotely, the most critical new consideration is the communication between the user and data centers where cloud operations take place.

Securing The Right Data Partner

It is important that businesses choose a high quality data center, with strong data communications and cloud experience to help minimize risks. Any data center which says it has never had an outage of any sort is either too new to have a track record or is not training its sales staff to be honest. Even major players, with more money to

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Clientless VDI In Healthcare

healthcare-clientless-VDIThe entire architecture around the modern endpoint has changed. This is truly become evident within the healthcare field. Associates, doctors and administrators are all processing healthcare information in completely new ways. IT consumerization and mobility have certainly played a big part through all of this.

The evolution of the healthcare environment, however, is never truly complete unless we take a look at security considerations. How has the endpoint evolved to simplify security? How are we delivering workloads and applications much more efficiently? Finally – how has virtualization created the next-generation endpoint environment?

In working with some of the country’s largest healthcare providers – we’ve see a new trend evolve. IT and security directors are looking at desktop and application virtualization from a new perspective. We’re going from virtual desktop delivery – to virtual “workload” delivery. The difference? The desktop doesn’t really matter.

You’ve got an employee workstation with a nurse who just signed in. She’s using a Sasmsung Chromebox where she has direct access to:

– Web applications
– Legacy applications
– Cloud storage and data
– Windows desktops
– Windows applications

Here’s the amazing part – she doesn’t need a single client to launch any of this. Technologies from both Citrix and VMware are now enabling the direct use of HTML5 solutions. Citrix, for example, allows you to deliver entire applications and even desktops through a browser. A user is presented their resources through a unified web portal, and then a new tab is simply

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