Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Salesforce links with Cisco to offer Cloud-based Call Centres

(By Philip Carnelley, 07:30, 6 Oct 09) In an interesting link-up, Salesforce.com announced a joint venture with Cisco to offer Cloud-based call-centre services – dubbed “Customer Interaction Cloud” – combining its own software with Cisco’s unified communications solutions. Despite the predominance of CRM as a Cloud application, we haven’t seen much call centre SaaS – one of the few exceptions being the UK’s Netcall (see Netcall benefits from increased use of online channels). While moving applications into the cloud is now becoming almost commonplace, linking them with the telecoms infrastructure is another matter. This may herald a new wave of cloud applications and should be of great interest to companies like BT who have the capability to offer both hosting services and telephony apps. The Salesforce/Cisco offering is aimed at small-medium sized companies: say, 30-300 agents.

In a linked announcement, Salesforce announced “five-minute upgrades” whereby downtime for clients when it is upgrading its software would be reduced to a five-minute window. (Note: there will be a longer, unspecified time when companies would be reduced to read-only access – but total non-availability will be reduced to the five minutes). We believe that uptime – based on SLAs – will start to become an important differentiator between cloud service providers as different more mission-critical applications are moved into the Cloud. Thus far platform providers like Salesforce and Amazon (EC2) have managed to avoid having to give guarantees. Future providers may be more willing to use SLAs as a competitive tool. Indeed, UK-based hosting company iomart has just announced ‘Cloudsure’ which it claims ties together “the physical hosting model of today with tomorrow’s cloud computing model, guaranteeing 100% uptime.” Let battle commence!

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