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Monday, May 21st

Single vendor vs best of breed technology - what cloud service providers need to know

Single vendor vs best of breed technology - what cloud service providers need to know

Businesses have become a lot more forward thinking when it comes to the cloud as we see companies starting to embrace this platform. Convenience, cost effectiveness and choice are just a few of the benefits proposed by cloud solutions today, and businesses are quickly turning to them for these advantages. Service providers, too, have geared themselves to offer a range of cloud-based services, and cloud contact centres, PBX solutions and interaction recording and management solutions are proving among the most popular.

However, as with any on-premise IT selection, cloud service providers are faced with the challenge of choosing a mix of 'best of breed' products or opting for a single brand across the entire technology stack, in order to provide their services to the market.

For cloud service providers offering these types of solutions, particularly interaction recording, reliability and the ability for recordings to be credibly used as evidence in court, is key. It is vital that they consider the robustness of their infrastructure while opting for technology which provides the best range of functionality.

Cloud service providers should scrutinise their technology choices carefully, as single vendor solutions across the board might deliver limited functionality on certain key components. Conversely, best-of-breed solutions can be integrated into an environment that makes use of top-tier equipment and platforms from multiple vendors, delivering more functionality such as analytics and enhanced reliability.

That is not to say that single vendor solutions are without benefits. The most obvious benefit is that of only having to deal with, and manage, a single supplier, which simplifies integration on the back end. This also saves time and money spent on integration. Another is that technology from a single vendor that fits within the cloud service provider's framework and existing technology stack, enables easier maintenance and can be more cost effective as a volumes-based package deal.

However, cloud providers who purchase from a single vendor only, are often locked into a single vendor's strategy. This can impede flexibility to adapt to changes later on, as the cloud service provider's market grows and business strategy evolves. Cloud service providers who build their technology stack from a mix of best of breed products are able to do so in such a way that they can address customer concerns and business requirements with agility through a stable of infrastructure specifically chosen for their ability to address their market needs.

As most single vendor solutions typically come from large multinationals, the lack of flexibility can also seep into other areas of business where customisation is required, such as compliance with local industry regulations. Often, the cloud service provider needs to apply special customisation in order to adapt their technology stack to the local regulatory requirements, as the vendor's products are more likely to comply with international standards, or those of the vendor's country of origin.

Geographical presence and cultural adaptability also plays a large role in what cloud service providers can offer their customers. Different geographical locations require different solutions. For example, South Africans tend to use voicemail services far more frequently than they do in Nigeria, so the technology model for South African interaction recording and management needs to be different than what is provisioned in Nigeria. Single vendor solutions from large multinationals may not take these cultural nuances and the resulting technology requirements into considerations, whereas an environment built on best of breed products which cater specifically to the varying requirements of different geographies will.

As a cloud or hosted solutions service provider, customer centricity is of paramount importance. Providers need to be able to adapt to market demands quickly and simply in order to remain ahead of their competitors. Single vendor technology solutions, which are usually pre-packaged and standardised, can make this difficult to achieve. End user customers are usually not concerned with the technology that delivers their service, unless that technology is unable to provide the adaptability and customisation that they expect when they need it.

Single vendor solutions, when broken down into modules and compared to best of breed options, don't always measure up on a per-module basis. However, as an overall standard offering they can be compelling. The flexibility, scalability and customisation enabled by a multi best of breed technology stack, though, often gives service providers an overall improved quality environment that is more adaptable, offers a richer feature set, and can grow as they do.

Finally, opting for technology from multiple smaller local players also offers two very important boons. The first is local presence, which reassures cloud service providers that they are more likely to be responsive when errors occur, enabling them confidently offer competitive SLAs to their customers. Local presence also contributes to lowered maintenance costs per module.

The second is the assurance of data sovereignty, and the knowledge that all data is hosted on local infrastructure within their country's borders. When it comes to regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act, or when recordings form part of local court proceedings, this can become critical.

All in all, when it comes to selecting a technology stack, cloud service providers need to select the solution that best fits their own business strategy. They will need to weigh up the impacts of vendor support structures, pricing, responsiveness, maintenance costs, and compliancy with local regulations, in order to determine the right solution to best deliver their services, both locally and on a global scale.

By Cedric Boltman, Executive: Channel, Jasco Enterprise.

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