Microservices 101 for Contact Centers: Minimizing Downtime and Increasing CX

By Ryan Proudfoot | September 6, 2019

Microservices. Is it just another fleeting buzzword, or do microservices really matter for your contact center?

A contact center platform built on the wrong architecture can have significant long-term consequences for your organization, including increased downtime, poor system stability and inability to scale. Let’s take a look at why microservices are a critical part of avoiding these pitfalls and keeping your contact center running smoothly.

 What Are Microservices?

 First, let’s start by defining microservices. For cloud applications, microservices are a collection of small, autonomous services that work together. This is in contrast to monolithic architecture, which is developed as a single unit.

Imagine a microservices platform as a modular house you add on to over time. First, you build the core rooms, such as the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. Later, you add a home office or more bedrooms as you need them. The modular structure makes it easier to make changes as you go.

With monolithic architecture, once the house is built, it’s difficult to update. Adding a room could mean modifying the entire house. Building a new bathroom, for example, is challenging because the existing plumbing lines aren’t routed to accommodate.

Similarly, monolithic contact center applications are large and cumbersome, with many highly interdependent components. Contact center platforms built with microservices, by contrast, can be easily updated by your vendor’s development team at any time, without impacting the entire application.

Why Are Microservices Important for Contact Centers?

In the house metaphor, we talked about how it’s relatively easy to update a contact center platform built on microservices. This doesn’t just make things easier for the vendor; it also has major benefits for your contact center.

Let’s say you’re using a platform built on a monolithic architecture, meaning it has many interdependent components. If the vendor updates a single module, it’s quite costly and disruptive to your business operations.

This is a serious issue for contact centers that operate 24/7 because it negatively impacts customer satisfaction and service level agreements. And for contact centers such as healthcare organizations that service life-or-death situations, any downtime is completely unacceptable.

As a monolithic application grows, the negative effects increase, resulting in poor scalability, greater complexity and diminished reliability. It’s also difficult to overcome these issues without completely re-architecting the system—an expensive and time-consuming endeavor that many vendors aren’t willing to take on.

 Buyer Beware: Not All Microservices Are the Same

You might talk to vendors who say their contact center platform is built on microservices, when in reality, if you dig deeper, it isn’t. A portion of their application might have “bolted on” microservices, but the rest of the platform is monolithic. In this case, you’ll still struggle with the limitations of a monolithic architecture.

How can you spot the difference? By understanding the restrictions of monolithic versus microservices architecture and asking intelligent questions like these:

  • Do you leverage a microservices architecture? If yes, what portion?
  • How do you achieve high availability?
  • Will my contact center be down when you release application updates?
  • Is your architecture active-active? (If the answer is yes, the vendor has a monolithic architecture, not microservices.)

Learn More

There are many more ways a microservices architecture can benefit your contact center. Download Why Microservices Are Critical to Your Contact Center’s Success for a complete list of important questions to ask vendors, additional reasons why a monolithic architecture can be detrimental to your contact center and benefits of using microservices.

 


Ryan Proudfoot is Vice President of Platform at Serenova.