A Review of Interactive Intelligence's CaaS Offering

Patrick Barnard
Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

A Review of Interactive Intelligence's CaaS Offering

This is the continuation of my live blog coming from Interactive Intelligence's Partner Conference in San Antonio:

Roe Jones, Product Manager for Interactive Intelligence, presents on the company's new Communications as a Service (CaaS) offering.

He goes over what CaaS is -- and what it isn't. It isn't traditional "hosted" as per the traditional ASP model, which required client side software, this is a pure web-based model. They've taken their robust CIC platform and totally rewritten it in .NET to make it fully web-based and highly scalable.

They're already seeing strong uptake for this new offering -- not just from existing customers but particularly from new ones. Interactive's CaaS revenue increased 59 percent in 2009 and most of this was from new business.

The trend continues: They got one CaaS order for more than $1 million and three for more than $250,000 in 1Q 2010.

Jones says they're CaaS offering offers a broad set of mature applications The SIP based offering is now being used by more than 3,500 customers.

The unique local contral capabilities of this offering allows them to maintain full control of their phone lines senstive data and adminisatrative changes.

Also unique about this offering is that each customer runs on a dedicated virtualized server. This allows for superior security, up time and disaster recovery through virtualization.

Also unique to the service is the fact that they can quickly and easily transition a customer to an on-premises system -- they just simply take that virtualized server and bring it over to the customer's premises.

They use Savvis for colocation. Interactive installs, monitors and maintains its own hardware, they simply use Savvis for data center locations and interconnection. Data Centers are in the UK, Brazil, Germany and throughout the US.

Each customer's system lives on a Hyper-V virtual machine with dedicated CPU and disk drives.

This CaaS offering comes in three basic models, however interactive provides extreeme flexibility in terms of deploymeny options. The three models include:

--Local Control VoIP
--Remote Control VoIP
--Remote Control TDM

With the latter two, calls are terminated in the data center.

Local control uses telco trunks and keeps voice and data on premises.

They use MPLS network for connection between data center and customer. this eliminates the need to send voice traffic to and from the data center. The MPLS requirements are therefore minimalized.

Call recording details can be stored either in the data center or on site.

Customers get all the benefits of SaaS offering but they get to keep local control.

The CaaS service bundles all of the core contact center applications Interactive offers, including IP-PBX, ACD, IVR, WFM, messaging, outbound dialing, call/screen recording, surveys, Web services and more.

Unlike other vendors offering all-in-one systems, these are all interactive's applications -- they don't partner with any other vendors to cobble together a suite of offerings.

The Web based administrative interface allows the end user to perform common move, add, drop and change tasks.

They also offer a CaaS Customer Portal which gives control over service announcements, billing summaries/detail and to access specific applications.

Interactive offers CaaS online training passport to every customer that subscribes. No CIC certifications are required.

Pricing involves a one time up-front set up fees and monthly recurring fees.

Charges are dependent on length of contract, number of agents, named user or concurrent, functionality requirements, choosen deployment model (hardware costs, MPLS service fees, telco usage fees, etc.), complexity of implementation (PSO services).

Example: A 100 "named" agent center under a 24 motnh contract costs about $94 per agent. If you add multichannel ACD, screen pop, and interaction recorder it works out to be about $129 per agent.

In Q4 they will add agent-less dialer. In addition they will be expanding the number of data centers through 2011, including automated fail-over between colocated facilities.

They will also add more features in the attendant including adding SSL security for remote data query, profile specific rights, read only mode, etc.

They will also being adding the new Web 4.0 administrator to the CaaS service offering.

CaaS vs. Premise: How they differ

The folliwng is currently not avilable in CaaS (mainly due to limitations with virtual machines):

Handler customization
Speech recognition
Interaction Multi-site
Interaction Director
MSFT OCS and Lotus Sametime Integration
Native Interaction Mobile Clients

Jones, however, emphasizes that these features and capabilities WILL be offered in due time...

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