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Call Center Relies On VDI For Agents

Paradigm shift. New business model. Better mouse trap. These were some of the ideas behind the formation of Cloud10, a call center outsourcing agency, in 2005. Cloud10 wanted to use emerging technology to support a new breed of call center agents: individuals working from their homes across the country. This focus thrust the company to the forefront in deployments of virtual desktop systems.
    
Large Fortune 500 corporations rely on Cloud10, which has about 1,000 employees, to supply them with agents capable of managing customer care, support, billing and technical inquiries. The company's focus on telecommuters enables it to attract more experienced and better qualified agents, many of whom would never work in a traditional contact center. Lower employee absenteeism and turnover, also associated with a more mature workforce, are other potential benefits of its business model.
   
To support the business, Cloud10 has three data centers, one in Denver and two in Canada. It relies on Voice over IP (VoIP) softphones from Avaya and Cisco Virtual Private Network connections for employees to answer calls. Cloud 10 needed a flexible IT software infrastructure, one able to run a wide range of applications from Microsoft Office to Tier 3 technical support troubleshooting systems.

At its inception in 2005, the firm became interested in using a virtual desktop system to deliver the appropriate software to its agents, most of whom use PCs. Cloud10 agents are stationed throughout the US, and sending out technicians every time a problem arose wasn't feasible. They needed a centrally managed product that would still allow employees to access their files, applications and settings locally.

The idea of individuals working with home computers can raise the hair on the back of IT managers' necks with thoughts of malware and rogue programs being downloaded and overrunning enterprise networks. Cloud 10 was searching for an approach with strong security features and one that complied with secure industry standards, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).

In addition, call volume can fluctuate dramatically during the season, so the company needed a solution that offered them deployment flexibility. They did not want not to wade through complex end-user licensing agreements before outfitting employees with the appropriate software. Also, turnover in call centers can be high and Cloud10 did not want to spend a lot of time setting up and then breaking down employee computers.

After deciding on a virtual desktop approach, Cloud10 examined products from Citrix, RingCube Technologies and VMware. The RingCube vDesk system had the lowest price by far. The other systems cost about seven times more than vDesk, according to Marc Robinson, VP of IT operations at Cloud10. Each vDesk workspace is provisioned remotely to the end users over the network and any policy changes, application updates, or deletion/revocation are managed and controlled centrally. Consequently, the call center company would be able to download new releases or updates with minimal IT department interaction.

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