As organizations undergo digital transformation, the purpose and the nature of call centers is also evolving. Traditionally, call centers were viewed as cost centers. Today they have transitioned to multi-technology, multi-channel contact centers that are focused at providing value and generating more business for the enterprise. In short, contact centers based on the cloud have become an integral part of organizations’ business processes, and SD-WANs have played a major role in this transition.

Understanding SD-WAN

A Software-defined Wide Area Network or SD-WAN is a virtual architecture that allows businesses to leverage different combinations of transport services like MPLS, Broadband Internet, LTE, etc. in a secure manner to allow users to connect to software applications that reside in a physical data center or in the cloud. Features like centralized control, enhanced security and application responsiveness have made SD-WANs a ubiquitous part of the modern IT infrastructure.

How Can SD-WANs Help Contact Centers Improve Efficiency?

Data centers, whether run out of a physical office or a virtual cloud, are data and voice intensive operations. They require extensive Internet access, and for this reason enterprises have always looked at using a combination of WAN technologies such as broadband and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). In addition to being an older technology, MPLS is also comparatively more expensive. This is where SD-WANs step in and help solve the primary network challenges faced by every growing contact center business:

  • SD-WANs can dynamically route traffic over different paths to ensure optimized performance, thereby improving reliability and overall quality of the service delivery. As routing decisions are based entirely upon the type of traffic, SD-WANs are ideal for optimizing the performance of Voice over IP (VoIP) in real-time.
  • SD-WANs are comparatively more cost-effective.
  • Having SD-WAN as an overlay on the MPLS network can optimize usage. This is mainly because the network environment in a contact center setup transports real-time traffic including voice and web traffic. Using SD-WANs to optimize these network connections can help bring down the overall operational expenditure.

Moving Contact Centers to the Cloud with SD-WAN

Moving Contact Centers to the Cloud with SD-WAN

Like other IT-based services, contact center users are willing to relocate to a cloud-based service delivery model. Popularly known as Contact Center as a Service or CCaaS, this service delivery model is cost-efficient and reliable, making it an attractive proposition especially for businesses that are not ready to establish a dedicated or in-house contact center for their customers.

  • It is essential to understand that contact center solutions go beyond customer service and are an important tool for providing customer analytics and improving brand image.
  • Contact centers handle an immense amount of call load and may even experience seasonal or unpredictable increases or decreases in traffic volumes. Cloud-based data centers allow businesses to conveniently scale up or down depending upon their requirements.

SD-WAN and CCaaS

Most organizations that choose to consolidate their contact center requirements over the cloud have a wide geographical presence with branch offices and customers spread over different parts of the globe. This is where SD-WANs come into play. While most major cities have reliable internet connectivity, this is not true for every location. Remote and rural areas struggle to provide stable connections, and this can be a nightmare for a contact center environment.

SD-WANs solve this problem effectively as they are carrier agnostic. SD-WANs allows network traffic to flow seamlessly, irrespective of the location the users and customers are connecting from. Organizations can thus get the best of both worlds: they can provide reliable services and they can do so at a reasonable cost.

Benefits of Using SD-WAN for Cloud Contact Centers

1.   Cost-efficiency

There is no doubt that the traditional WAN is a secure and reliable means of communication between branches and the data center. However, with business applications transitioning to the cloud, conventional WANs can be highly expensive and inefficient. Cloud-based contact center services are reliable and cost-effective when they are provisioned over the SD-WANs: a combination of service providers can be used and traffic can be steered based on application and pre-set priority. Contact centers can thus reduce the cost of network resources and optimize their utilization.

2.   Security

Security

Security is major concern for businesses considering migration to the cloud. With technologies like SD-WAN, enterprises can rest assured that their data will be secure even when it moves out of the physical office premises and into the cloud:

  • SD-WANs can segment the enterprise-wide network, making it easier for the management team to identify any security threats and address them before they become an issue. These threats can be isolated and handled without affecting the remaining cloud-based contact center network.
  • SD-WANs also support newer security features like service chaining, and these features can easily work with the existing security infrastructure of the cloud contact center.
  • Security policies can be updated for the whole network at the push of a button, which reduces complexity and enhances security.

SD-WANs include robust security capabilities that ensure that network security is maintained in a cloud-based contact center environment.

3.   Network Availability

As an overlay solution, SD-WANs work well with different network configurations connecting the contact center to the cloud. These configurations can include MPLS, broadband, etc. If a particular service becomes unavailable, the SD-WAN can direct network traffic to another service without affecting connectivity. This ensures network uptime and the availability of round-the-clock contact center services.

4.   Channelizing Traffic

The following two capabilities of SD-WANs allow them to channelize the contact center traffic in the most optimal manner:

  • Dynamic Path Selection: SD-WANs support Dynamic Path Selection, which is essentially the network’s capability to automatically as well as selectively route traffic on a particular link depending on the existing traffic characteristics or network conditions. If one link is down or unavailable, the data and voice packets can be automatically steered onto another available link depending on how they are prioritized.
  • Policy-based Management: Policies are the determining factors for steering traffic depending on priority and quality of service (QoS). The SD-WAN controller can be used to set the policies for the entire network.

5.   Scalability

A contact center environment, be it physical or cloud-based, needs to be scalable to handle changing requirements. Solutions based on SD-WANs offer this feature along with added benefits of flexibility and security.

6.   Centralized Management

6. Centralized Management

While it may not seem as critical but centralized management can make the configuration of an SD-WAN solution a breeze in comparison to constant touch-up of router settings or the increased dependency on multiple MPLS service providers. Smart SD-WAN solutions for cloud contact centers can lower operational expenditure while simultaneously improving network reliability by fixing any network-related problems in real-time.

Conclusion

SD-WANs work best when they are deployed as an overlay solution on the existing WAN infrastructure of the enterprise. With more and more enterprises moving their business-critical operations and applications on the cloud, this network technology has become the need of the hour. This is apparent in the case of the transformation of physical contact centers to cloud contact centers. Although cloud contact centers are a relatively new element in the digitization journey of global enterprises, they require technologies like SD-WAN to become viable and scalable. As SD-WANs continue to provide increased security and assure real-time network availability, more and more businesses will embrace the modern model of cloud-based contact center services.

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