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Article : Answering Contact Center IT Challenges with Virtual Hosted Desktops

SVP of Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Desktone
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Companies are increasingly outsourcing their call centers. Global call center outsourcing is now a $55 billion market, and offshore outsourcing is growing at an extremely rapid rate: regions such as India, the Philippines and Central and Eastern Europe are experiencing annual growth in excess of 30 percent.* However, whether you outsource call centers, or operate them yourself, you face significant IT-related challenges:

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  • Lack of security: Companies with outsourced or internal call center operations can lose control over security, both from data and device standpoints. Because call centers typically operate on shifts, users who share devices may install software that corrupts the endpoint or may change settings in ways that make it difficult for other people to use. Call centers that are populated with rich desktops are at risk of sensitive data being exposed and devices being stolen. This is a particular concern for companies that outsource call centers and don’t want their sensitive data to reside at externally-owned locations over which they have little control.
  • Poor user experience: Many call centers use server-based computing because of its centralized computing benefits. However, as call center operations become more global, server-based computing limitations become more apparent. The further removed data centers are from call center offices, the more network latency issues arise. This results in poor response times and end user productivity issues—not to mention frustrated customers who have to wait while call center representatives’ computers gain access to required information.
  • Difficulty scaling: Many businesses are seasonal and, to support changing volumes, they often need to hire new or temporary call center staff. However, because it is extremely difficult to add and remove devices, they end up purchasing and/or supporting a high level of PCs or thin clients to ensure that they have capacity when it’s needed. This results in long periods of under-utilized resources and unnecessary costs.

Overcoming Obstacles with Outsourced Virtual Desktops

Companies can mitigate some of these call center challenges by converting from physical to virtual desktops—essentially, centralizing desktops into virtual machines that run on data center servers. There is a tremendous amount of industry interest in virtual desktop computing because it has the potential to reduce desktop costs dramatically, make them easier to manage, and enhance security. But moving to a centralized virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is incredibly difficult. For one thing, the technologies needed for VDI (i.e., servers, storage, network, thin clients and virtualization software) are provided by many different vendors, causing considerable confusion among enterprise IT staff about which technologies to adopt. In addition, the technologies are typically managed by different IT groups, which makes it very difficult to coordinate virtual desktop initiatives. It is just too costly and time-consuming for your IT staff to integrate and support all the technologies required for VDI. And, to gain economies of scale with VDI, you must build out a large-scale environment. But even if you have the data center space and connectivity to do this, if your data center isn’t located close to your call centers, your end users will still experience performance issues.

There is a new approach—called desktops as a service (DaaS)—that enables call centers to quickly realize the full potential associated with centralized virtual desktops, and even greater flexibility and performance, without having to create and support a VDI solution themselves. With subscription-based DaaS, you outsource the building, deploying and managing tasks to service providers who already have the data center equipment, networking and real estate needed to handle VDI. It lets call center organizations manage a collection of virtual desktops that is powered by a very large set of physical resources, which are owned and maintained by a third-party,

You can realize critical benefits for your call centers by running them in a DaaS environment:

  • Hosting location flexibility: By taking advantage of your service provider’s existing global network you can choose to leverage data centers—and virtual desktops—that are closer to your international call centers, or can opt to keep the virtual desktops in a more centralized location to improve risk management and compliance.

DaaS also provides you the option of choosing a hosted cloud environment, where the physical infrastructure resides in the service provider data center, or managed CPE, where it is located on your network. Or you can use a combination of both models in order to dilute the risk of where the infrastructure resides. In all cases, the service provider owns and maintains the physical resources, and you manage your virtual desktops.

  • On-demand scaling: Tap into your service provider’s capacity when you need to scale up to handle seasonal or promotional volume.
  • Improve data and device security: By using thin client access devices, you ensure that end users can’t take data out of the call center facility. By centralizing control over your virtual desktop images, you can ensure that users can’t install software that could compromise the endpoint. Additionally, if end users inadvertently cause problems with the operating environment, your administrators can easily roll back to good state. And because your data center utilizes a private connection to the service provider’s data center, you don’t have to worry about compromising security.
  • Ensure optimal performance and increase productivity: Eliminate network latency problems by using service provider data centers that are close to your call centers. And, because DaaS provides a genuine Windows client environment on endpoint devices, you benefit from much better application support than is possible with traditional server-based computing environments, improving end-user productivity
  • Improve disaster recovery: In the event of a localized outage, your end users can still get access to desktops and you minimize productivity loss.

By adopting a DaaS strategy, and partnering with a world-class service provider, you can operate your call centers with much more efficiency and flexibility, and at less cost. And, just as important, you will realize much better and more consistent performance for your call center representatives—which translates to improved service for your customers.



* Everest Research Institute


About Les Yetton:
As Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Les Yetton has over two decades of management and leadership experience in successfully building technology companies. His career has included executive positions at Softricity, which was acquired by Microsoft, and Axis Communications, where he served as president, as well as Unisys Corporation.

About VMware:
Company LogoVMware, a provider of virtualization and cloud infrastructure, delivers customer-proven solutions that accelerate IT by reducing complexity and enabling more flexible, agile service delivery. Leveraging VMware vSphere™, a widely deployed foundation for cloud computing, VMware enables enterprises to adopt a cloud model that addresses their unique business challenges. VMware's approach speeds the transition to cloud computing while preserving existing investments and improving security and control. With more than 250,000 customers and 25,000 partners, VMware solutions help organizations of all sizes to lower costs, increase business agility and ensure freedom of choice.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Consider Your Center As A Production Line

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Published: Thursday, November 20, 2008

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