Clarity in the clouds

The term “cloud” has been so widely used and abused that confusion has hit an all-time high. Some say it even rivals the likes of “CRM.” The purpose of this post is to attempt to throw out a starting point to reference and solicit your thoughts, feedback and experiences so we can collectively create clarity around the topic and how it relates to the contact center.

So, what is this cloud thang anyway?

Below are the first two results that came up when searching Google Images for “cloud computing.”


The first is pretty straight forward. The second made me chuckle and illustrates the issue at hand.

Let’s see what the (fairly) trusted source Wikipedia has to say about cloud computing…

“Cloud computing is a marketing term (those darn marketing folks are responsible for this!) for technologies that provide computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. A parallel to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, wherein end-users consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.”

That seems like a good starting point. Next, let’s review the three primary flavors of cloud computing:

  • Private cloud – technology infrastructure is owned and operated by a single company and deployed as a service for users within its organization.
  • Public cloud – technology infrastructure is owned and operated by a third party service provider who offers like services to multiple clients.
  • Hybrid cloud – the combining of private and public cloud infrastructures to take advantage of unique benefits offered with each model.

Most consumer cloud services (Facebook, Skype, personal email, etc.) are offered via the public cloud. However, within the enterprise there is usually a mix of private, public and hybrid cloud services – across or even within application deployments. For example, payroll may be fulfilled via public cloud, a corporate finance application via private cloud, and corporate collaboration via a hybrid cloud where email, voicemail and IM are deployed in a private cloud, web conferencing is deployed in a public cloud, and all are integrated at the desktop to deliver a comprehensive, streamlined collaboration experience.

How does this relate to the contact center?

Now that the model is proven, and key requirements around security, predictability and control are being met via use of virtual server technology and flexible deployment options, the cloud is becoming a more relevant and regular discussion in the contact center. Therefore, it’s important we agree on 1) what we mean by the cloud and 2) what options are available.

Are the above definitions a good starting point for discussion? Are there other images, definitions or materials you’ve run across that can help bring clarity to the cloud?

Grateful for simplification,

Jason Alley

Jason Alley

Jason Alley

Jason Alley is a senior solutions marketing manager for Interactive Intelligence. Since his employment in 2010, Jason has helped Interactive Intelligence develop market requirements and go-to-market strategies for contact center, customer experience, and cloud solutions. Prior to Interactive, he spent ten years consulting with large enterprise contact centers and suppliers for Vanguard Communications, and a company he later founded, SmartContact Consulting. Jason spent the first seven years of his career in sales, marketing, and product management roles working for Aspect, Hipbone, Nortel, and others. Jason received his bachelor’s degree in business economics from UCLA.