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Cloud Contact Centers Can Increase Risk – An Honest Peek Behind the Curtain

I remember being an IT executive for a large, well respected BPO when I was first encouraged to move our technologies – especially the contact center solution – to the cloud. It was interesting because these requests came from non-IT people – heads of operations, sales, and even colleagues on the executive leadership team. I had to ask – why the push to the cloud? We had already invested in physical infrastructure and licensing, and our inhouse data center was built with better redundancy than my prior colocation. We were averaging uptime of 99.99%, so what is the gain in this effort? Their answer was simple – it’s even more secure and more stable than what we had built ourselves. Even if the cost was higher, it was well worth the move.
This all occurred during the days where Siemens still owned NGNCloudComm (branded as OpenScape Contact Center), and the product had no native cloud support. For that reason, we began interviewing the typical competitors to the product. Aside from lacking the basic feature set we depended on, they all had one key element that scared me to death: multitenancy. I had no choice but to reject vendor after vendor, platform after platform, because, even if I could sacrifice capabilities, I saw too great of a risk in multitenancy.

To understand my fear, you must first understand what multitenancy is. 

Think of a multitenant contact center platform – or really any multitenant technology – like an apartment community. You have a common foundation, roof, and exterior walls that make up each building, but then you have dozens (or even hundreds) of individual dwellings per building where each tenant resides. Each dwelling will have a similar floor plan, fix spaces, and shared internal walls. Depending on the landlord, you may be allowed to paint your walls, change your flooring, and so on, whereas others simply won’t allow that. You can sometimes hear the footsteps above you, loud stereo next door, or even occasionally smell your neighbor’s bizarre cooking. You may accept that as a way of life, but what about the more serious issues? What happens when one apartment catches fire – doesn’t the entire building need to be evacuated? If a bad actor gets through the front door on the street, aren’t all apartments at risk and not just the home of the tenant who didn’t think twice before buzzing in a random visitor? What if the building does a plumbing upgrade that goes horribly wrong? Isn’t everyone’s shower affected? What if you want to expand? Let’s say you have a new member added to your family, and now you need a fourth bedroom. You can’t really knock down a wall or modify a floor plan – that’s just not how apartments work! If you are lucky, you can find another unit in the building or in the same community, but often you may find yourself needing to move across town! Even with moving to a different floor, it’s a tremendous undertaking to pack everything up just to carry it up a flight of stairs, unpack, and start all over again while making it feel like your home. This doesn’t even take into consideration any constraints in your current lease that would make it financially painful to do so!
Multitenant contact center solutions work the same way. When you connect to that user portal, so does EVERY OTHER USER. That means if a bad actor gets through that portal, they can very possibly not just get to the customer account who had a weak password, but they can potentially bleed through into your environment. What about system outages? An outage can take out hundreds or even thousands of customers all at once. What if an upgrade goes bad? I remember in my BPO days having an ecommerce customer who would allow no upgrades during Q4 – this is when they made 75+% of their annual revenue. If your multitenant provider applies an upgrade for one client, often that applies to all. You may have no option to state that “no upgrades are allowed”. If there is a new bug or glitch that only affects a handful of customers, you may have no option to roll back and instead need to accept that bug (regardless of severity) until it’s fixed. What if you outgrow your current solution? Can they easily make your space larger, or are you confined inside of server that is at maximum capacity and no room to “knock down walls”? Will they be flexible on your lease, or will you be penalized for growth?
I could keep going with examples, but I think you get the general idea by now. When I hear about Ransomware taking out large cloud technologies because the vulnerability came in through one customer’s portal – that seems far too risky. Likewise, when I was at a BPO, I was always hoping to land that new 100 seat deal. Could the cloud system suddenly add capacity overnight? I knew in my current dedicated premise environment, I could add my licenses and, as needed, add memory and storage space in a 30-minute maintenance window of my choosing.

Is cloud evil? Should we all turn and run away?  

Absolutely not! Cloud can be done right; it just rarely is. Grupo NGN saw this need, and we took a completely different approach. Our founder and CEO, Javier Limones, identified multitenancy as one of the greatest risks to cloud computing when he envisioned our cloud offering. In his vision, he wanted every customer to have their own individual system – completely separated in the cloud. This approach, known as multi-instance hosting, is rarely seen in contact center solutions – I am personally not aware of anyone else that does this at scale. As he bought his software back from Siemens, Mr. Limones introduced a true multi-instance cloud offering. In our environment, no two customers share even the same network, let alone the same server. Each customer exists in their own subaccount in any of the most secure cloud computing environments (our primary choice is Microsoft Azure). Upgrades, customizations, expansions – they are all completely separated. In this approach, each instance is now similar to an individual home on a large piece of land. You can change your flooring, adjust the plumbing, even knock down walls to add an entirely new wing to your home – all without your neighbor even knowing you are there. If your neighbor leaves their door unlocked, only their home is burglarized – you can continue to sleep through the night.

Apartment living can be fun when you are young, but eventually you realize that, for about the same price (if not less), you can have an entire house that you can call your own.  No longer will you have to worry about loud noises, funny smells, or your neighbor’s disastrous cooking.  With NGNCloudComm, we give you just that, and all the security that comes along with it.  Contact our Sales Team to learn more about how our cloud offering is completely reimagined.

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