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Building scalable fault tolerant predictive diallers with clustering

Single server predictive dialler solutions can be very powerful and fault tolerant but scalability is limited to the host server capacity, which means a ceiling of around 40 agents. Clustering enables a contact centre to grow through this limitation and become more fault tolerant.

A cluster is formed by separating out the various dialler processes like the dialler, database and web server and installing them on separate dedicated servers, each with a high speed interconnect. The advantage of this configuration is that additional capacity can be added easily and cost effectively without any major disruption. The size of the contact call centre can then be extended from the 40 agent limit to hundreds of agents.

The other major advantage of clustering is the enhanced fault tolerance. In the event of server failure (which is rare) the dialler can continue its role with very limited downtime. Cluster components can be replaced much more easily, some of them while the dialler is running.

Hosted dialler clusters are available from Hostcomm now and all the benefits of a hosted dialler service are as follows:

  1. Low cost to set up and run - A hosted dialer based on open source software can be set up ready for use for around £300 (higher for clusters). The monthly cost is very small at around £225 for a small system capable of servicing up to seven agents. There are no BT line contracts to consider because all calls are terminated via business grade uncompressed voip. The dialer requires an internet connection and the most popular service is ADSL2+ for around £40 per month, this is normally good for around 15 agent sessions (or 30 compressed voip sessions). The only other charges are the calls which are lower than normal because they essential bypass the BT network on the first leg of the call. Expect to pay £0.01 for UK landline calls per minute.
  2. Speed of deployment - A hosted dialer for up to 30 agents can be provisioned within 24 hours if required. This is largely due to the provisioning effeciency of cloud based servers these days. They can be switched on ready for use instantly with internet access. The application can then be installed following a tried and tested blueprint.
  3. Security - The host's network will invariably be more secure than the end user's network because it has more experience in dealing with threats. Security measures can cripple a voip-based communication system and cause it to be unstable. The trick is to find the ultimate blend of security and performance. In general terms the dialer server will be in a purpose built data centre with physical access restrictions, a firewall, access logs, SSL encryption on the web interface and IP address tracking.
  4. Low risk - Covered in our other blog entry the risk with a hosted dialer is not high because the end user can be fully exposed to it for testing and familiarisation prior to any significant commercial and operational commitments. Furthermore the application itself will be based on tried and tested open source applications such as a Linux operating system, asterisk PBX, apache web server and mysql database.
  5. Speed of development - Open source applications like Linux and asterisk have taken a large slice in their respective markets. This is mainly due to the lack of cost, reliability and speed of development. Hosted dialers based on open source applications develop very quickly because of the sheer number of willing developers that contribute to the code. There are hundreds of thousands of contributors to these applications. This generally results in regular improvements, bug fixes, new features and good support.
  6. No long term commitments - A hosted predictive dialer can be acquired for a minimum of 6 months after which it can be terminated without penalty. In may cases an organisation can be unsure about whether a dialer will suit their business, a hosted dialer gives them an opportunity to find out without wasting money. Other organisations may experience seasonal increases / decreases in business and may wish to acquire extra dialer capacity for the busy times on a temporary basis.


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