Enterprise Apps

Siemens Goes Virtual With Contact Center Upgrade

Siemens Enterprise Communications has announced an upgrade of its OpenScape Contact Center. The V8 release will be generally available May 18, Ross Sedgewick, senior director with Siemens’ large enterprise solutions group, told CRM Buyer. The new version will provide virtualization from both the server and client directions.

Virtualized servers will allow data centers to deploy the entirely software-based contact center solution via hypervisors that allow for multiple operating systems and instances of application software to run on the same physical server, said Sedgewick. This will provide better optimization of server load and also reduce the expense of disaster recovery planning.

VMware Partnership Adds Technology

The hypervisor capability comes from Siemens’ partnership with VMware, announced in March. Called the “OpenScape Unified Communications Server 2010,” the platform segments network server resources to allow, for example, both Linux and Windows to run on the same physical machine. Thus, enterprise data centers can deploy software in a way that balances workloads rather than segregates software based on operating system.

If you think about any given server in a conventional way,” Sedgewick said, you would have one application on a server running Linux and another running on a Windows server. Virtualization allows you to spread those applications evenly over multiple servers.”

Through virtualization, companies also now can load their contact center software onto data center machines, rather than on proprietary hardware at each location, said Siemens. This effectively cuts the physical tie between the contact center and the bricks-and-mortar data center, Sedgewick stressed.

Web-Based Agent

Siemens also is offering an entirely Web-based agent interface with V8. The Windows-based client is still available; however, organizations can choose to deploy the contact center suite entirely through a browser, noted Sedgewick. The Web-based agent interface provides contact center agents a way to see real-time availability of their counterparts working within the enterprise network, so that they can refer customers to content area experts or supervisors if necessary, he explained.

Does this mean that Siemens envisions setting contact center agents loose to work on netbooks and smartphones? Certainly that’s the general direction, said Sedgewick — but not quite yet. This version will indeed run on a netbook, as long as the device has a USB port to allow an agent to plug in a headset.

“The company also has downstream plans” to develop a client for smartphones, he added, so that agents can use even smaller devices to field calls.

Software-Based IVR

OpenScape Contact Center V8 also provides IVR capabilities that are software-only and entirely SIP-based, said Siemens. The company touts the lower costs of this type of IVR functionality over those that require proprietary hardware.

A new hosted edition is being launched for service providers. In addition, a modular, pay-as-you-go subscription licensing model is being introduced with this version. Siemens also has included pre-integration with common third party communication applications such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SAP and Oracle’s Siebel.

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