Moving Smart Home Services to the Cloud: 24/7 customer support– Specialist post by Nadav Chomed

Moving Smart Home Services to the Cloud: 24/7 customer support– Specialist post by Nadav Chomed

The cloud has had a profound effect on the way we do business. As we have discussed in past blogs moving to cloud based server platforms as opposed to localized infrastructure has allowed great flexibility, allows for data analysis that benefit both the prover and the end customer – as well as various other advantages.

Managing connected home service platforms on the cloud also affects the way in which customer support is offered and has, in many ways altered the rules of the game in this sphere. In many cases IoT based services are mission critical for businesses and often for life safety as well. Service providers may be susceptibility to loss of service and data loss. Cloud computing infrastructure has allowed vendors to offer a much higher level of support and service that avoid disastrous consequences of this.

As opposed to traditional software where the computing is done in the app servers, in cloud computing the computing happens in a large datacenter outside your computer, and you simply see the results of it on your own screen. Cloud computing refers to a variety of Internet-based computing services. It is composed of different layers:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) is the bottom layer, which includes services such as storage, backup and security.
  • PaaS (Platform as a service) includes certain framework and functions that customers can customize and use in order to develop their own apps.
  • SaaS (Software as Service) the top layer. It includes software and apps that can be delivered to service providers without requiring any specialized knowledge for day-to-day operation and maintenance on their part.

Cloud architecture is a truly game changer for technical customer support, since it helps automatically solve many of the incidents that were common complaints in the past, such as CPU or networking issues, which would take up a lot of time and resources.

In order to provide the best possible service in the most efficient possible manner to a business or customer base, technical support is usually subdivided into different tiers. The number of tiers depends on the business’ needs, but usually a common support structure revolves around a 4-tiered technical support system. Furthermore, when examining the 4-tiered support system, the traditional roles and responsibilities of each tier have been drastically changed by cloud architecture:

Tier 1 gathers information to determine the customer’s issue by analyzing the symptoms and figuring out the underlying problem. With cloud architecture these issues are usually fixed automatically without human intervention, giving the Tier 1 engineer time to solve other software/app related issues.

Tier 2 is a more in-depth technical support level and its engineers are more experienced on a particular product or service. They normally use a workaround method to solve specific issues and gather more information on the app issue at hand. With cloud architecture, the workaround can be performed by an automatic tool implemented as part of the infrastructure on the cloud, drastically reducing the MTTR (Mean Time To Resolve).

Tier 3 is the highest level of support in this model, responsible for handling the most difficult or advanced problems. In cloud based architecture, Tier 3 developers usually handle complex issues within the code itself on the deepest layer.

Tier 4, while not universally used, a fourth tier often represents an escalation point beyond the organization. When referring to cloud infrastructure, tier 4 will be the cloud provider such as Amazon, Azure, etc.

In recent years, with the advent of the possibilities enabled by IoT technologies, service providers from different verticals have become drawn to the business opportunities this offers them. However, these new services in most cases fall outside the boundaries of their core competency. For companies that do not have the resources or the expertise to provide their customers with the necessary technical support, using SaaS cloud hosting and technical support by a vendor has many advantages:

1- Reliability

With a managed service platform, cloud computing is much more reliable and consistent than in-house IT infrastructure. Why? Thanks to round-the-clock support, and a massive pool of redundant IT resources, as well as quick failover mechanism  that means  that if a server fails, hosted applications and services can easily be transited to any of the available servers.

2- Manageability

Cloud computing allows companies to forget about technology and focus on their key business activities and objectives. It also helps to reduce the time needed to market newer applications and services.

3- Access Anytime, Anywhere

Cloud infrastructure provides flexible access on any device (PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone), from any location, at any time – even from home.

4- Save on IT Resources

No need to invest in and manage local IT staff as everything is managed from the data center.

5- 24/7 support

Most providers offer a Service Level Agreement which guarantees 24/7/365 and 99.99% availability.

Most agree that cloud computing and centrally managed infrastructure has successfully solved many IT problems that existed for organizations of all sizes. Customer and technical support is a crucial facet as it allows prevention of many issues that invariably arise in the day to day of running IT systems and also timely resolution of others that require more comprehensive attention. This ensures that business experience less loss of service and are better able to continue to do what they do best and serve their own customers.

The writer of this post is Nadav Chomed, Essence’s Support & Fast Response Manager, in charge of the technical support group for our enterprise customers.

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