The classic definition of “5 nines” refers to an uptime of greater than 99.999%, or just over five minutes of downtime per year. By contrast, an uptime of 99.9%, or “3 nines” is about 8.7 hours of downtime per year – more than a full business day. Downtime like that can do some real financial damage.
Whether you provide managed services or hosted solutions for customers, or you’re an enterprise performing your own IT operations support, maintaining a high level of service availability is critical and directly affects business outcomes for your organization.
Combining people, processes and tools
Getting this done is not easy. Today’s contact center and unified communications technologies are incredibly powerful – but they are also very complicated. There are a huge number of components: applications, SIP proxy servers, directories, voice gateways, multiservice switches, recording servers and more.
The sheer complexity is overwhelming when it comes to understanding how these components work individually and, more importantly, how they interact with each other. Providing complex services such as unified communications and contact center reliably comes down to the people, processes and tools that make up your delivery model.
Finding a delicate balance between the three is critical. People are the key, but of course, to err is human. Unforced mistakes, forgetfulness and imprecise execution can each cause significant issues leading to downtime. Processes help to alleviate these kinds of shortcomings and maximize the potential of your people by making them more effective and consistent.
Tools, on the other hand, are force-multipliers. They magnify people’s efforts, allowing them to be more efficient, and they can supplement effort by automating certain jobs. You can argue that tools are the key to making people efficient and effective at executing the processes that support them.
Your end goal is always to reduce the downtime. The triad of people, process and tools need to be well tuned and complementary to best meet this goal. It’s not only important to fix problems in seconds, but it’s even more important to get ahead of problems in a predictive and proactive manner if you can.
Essential IT Ops tools
Let’s focus for the moment on the tools. The IT operations management platform and the suite of tools underpinning it must work cohesively and provide certain capabilities. Here are two of the most important ones:
Automated Root Cause Analysis Tools (RCA): With automated RCA, you don’t waste valuable time manually tracking down the root cause of service issues. Instead, automated RCA does it for you. Utilizing built-in intelligence, it analyzes huge amounts of incoming events, detecting patterns and relationships then performing additional analysis from multiple viewpoints – usually based on topological context – that point to the real problem. It then leverages its findings to rapidly pinpoint the root cause of contact center and unified communications service issues. Being able to quickly and accurately pinpoint a root cause is key to maintaining any kind of uptime requirements your business may have.
Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations Tools (AIOps): Originally known as Algorithmic IT Operations, AIOps has come of age in the last decade. Improvements in computing power and storage, the scalability of cloud-based infrastructure, the availability of truly massive data sets and the increasing sophistication of algorithms have all been key factors in facilitating this evolution in IT operations management.
AI-based tools are beginning to transform how infrastructure is managed. They have the ability to recognize critical issues with superior accuracy, resulting in faster remediation of problems. They bring about efficiencies through by employing machine learning on data collected and leveraging automations that drive real-time feedback loops and workflows, and even provide self-healing capabilities when customers dare to let the machine make decisions.
Intelligent systems utilizing trend and threshold-based techniques can drive predictive value when resources are getting maxed out and provide a truly proactive approach to infrastructure management.
How “5 nines” availability improves business outcomes
Those are just two of the many factors that make it possible to achieve a 5 nines availability. But how does this relate to business outcomes?
Minimize downtime and business disruption – Service outages and degradations have a huge business impact – contact center downtime can lead to well over $100,000 an hour in lost revenues. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – the long-term impact is equally painful. Automated RCA and AIOps capabilities dramatically accelerate service restoration. You spend your time actually fixing the problem rather than investigating it.Raise customer satisfaction and retention: Reduced service downtime translates directly into increased customer satisfaction. By delivering a positive customer experience, you increase customer retention and build trust. Not only does this protect your revenue streams, but for a managed service provider (MSP), it makes it much easier to upsell additional services to your existing customer base. Additionally, it also reduces pricing pressures – customers are less likely to look for lower-cost alternatives when they are highly satisfied with the services you deliver.
Increase win rates: Better service quality is a key competitive differentiator, especially for companies that rely on their mission-critical contact center and unified communications services. By using automated RCA and AIOps techniques, you can deliver superior service and achieve 5 nines availability. Even better, if you’re an MSP, you can back this up by offering more aggressive SLAs during the sales process. This translates into higher win rates, allowing you to command a price premium. And, of course, you can also upsell enhanced SLAs to your existing customer base.
Reduce service delivery costs: Manually diagnosing service issues is expensive. It takes skilled and experienced contact center and unified communications experts – and consumes vast amounts of their time. By optimizing remediation, you can dramatically lower the cost of managing contact center and unified communications infrastructures.
Make sure your contact center, collaboration and unified communications vendor is able to provide proof that they can offer these benefits and deliver “5 nines” (or greater) of service.