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BPO on the Cloud
Ezhil Arasan Babaraj
Friday, April 8, 2011
Cloud Computing is nothing but providing Information Technology (IT) related components such as computing, storage, network bandwidth, security, platforms and software as a service. It is considered to be a cost effective method, because you need not pay upfront a hefty amount and you will pay for what you use.

Simple Analogy to Cloud Computing
I am sure we are all not new to the idea of pay per use, i.e., utility model, we have been using electricity, telephone, mobile phones in the utility mode and the government & telecom providers have invested a lot in building the infrastructure to provide best services to you. In the similar way, Cloud Providers like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Gogrid and Google have invested a lot and created the infrastructure to be used by end users like us.

Cloud Computing Solves:
Cloud Computing is going to change the way we compute soon. It is important for the developers to understand that many problems that we currently face like application not scaling, database reached maximum number of concurrent connections, and single server deployment are being addressed by Cloud Computing. From a business perspective you will not be required to invest on your IT infrastructure immediately with a huge CAPEX rather you can invest as your business goes on an OPEX model.

Now, how does a BPO benefit using Cloud Computing?

Given today’s BPO scenario, if you want to support global customers by 24 X 7, 365 days, you need to have a reliable infrastructure. Almost all the BPO companies have heavily invested on their data center infrastructure comprising of voice technology, network bandwidth, Servers, CRM to support, Software’s that are required to run the business process and more. The cost of upgrades, maintenance, new project accusations are high due to the initial investment.

But, in the Cloud Computing world, all the above defined infrastructure components are available as a Service for a BPO to kickstart. It allows them to be competitive in their market offerings. In fact, with this a BPO can be virtually run with a very minimal or no office space.

Some of the relevant Cloud Computing technologies for the BPO are:

OpenVBX powered by Twillio (http://www.twilio.com/openvbx)

OpenVBX is a web-based open source phone system for business. Get virtual phone numbers, and build business apps with the easy drag ‘n drop editor. OpenVBX comes with applets for auto-attendants, call forwarding, voicemails (with transcription), receiving text messages and more. Integrate OpenVBX with your existing systems. Build your own custom phone applets with just a little bit of PHP. Rebrand and resell OpenVBX to your customers. Give every user their own phone number and personal conference line. Dial whole departments, share voicemail messages with the team. OpenVBX is for companies and collaboration.

Collaboration Platform (Google APPS & App Engine) (http://apps.google.com)

Google Apps comprises of Email Services, Google Docs with customized email addresses with your own domain..etc. There are business apps such as CRM, Accounting, ERP related apps are built by others deployed in Google App Engine platform.Computing & Storage (AWS, Microsoft Azure) (http://aws.amazon.com)

If you already have any apps that are purchased for your Call center need, you will be able to securely & remotely host them in the IaaS Cloud such as AWS. But, Azure allows you to host both your .NET Apps in their PaaS platform or other technology apps in their Windows Azure platform
Human Resources as a Service (AWS M-Turk) https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome)

This is a very interesting service by Amazon, if you want a human resource specialist to help you out for a specific job, you need not recruit them, rather you can send your job description and its related details to Amazon Web services as request. If they find a matching job profile, they will notify the resource, upon interest in both the sides, the defined job can be executed. The best part about the whole services is completely automated and you can program it using their web services API for M-turk.

App Delivery Platform (Spoon.NET) (http://spoon.net)

Spoon is a very interesting app delivery platform using app virtualization technology. A BPO to run on the Cloud requires certain apps to be made available for their person who provides the operations support. Spoon.NET allows you to make the apps available from the Cloud.

CRM Platform (SalesForce.com)

Saleforce.com is a ‘SaaS’ platform provides complete CRM required for Support business on a utility mode. It has a ‘PaaS’ extension called force.com, which allows one to develop customized applications using Salesforce.com object model using web services API.

The author is Director, CSS Corp Labs
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