Multiple Site small Call Center Architecture

Discussion in 'General' started by chris, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. chris

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello,

    Elastix noob... but I catch on really quick!

    I have a question about the hardware and bandwidth required to setup a small virtual call center.

    We are attempting to create a virtual call center with 3 - 5 sales reps who will work from home. We need the ability to see who's on the phone and have the phones ring at all locations when a call is received. From the "without tears" documentation this appears quite possible.

    My question is what hardware and bandwidth would be needed to support such a configuration?

    Would a plain old DSL line at the sales reps home be sufficient? What special hardware and/or software (other than an IP Phone) would be required for the remote sales people?

    Any special gear or a recommendation on size of pipe for the head office?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Chris (Toronto)
     
  2. rslrdx

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    if you are only going to have 5 agents, 10 max, most older pcs are fine for the server, thats if you are only going to use the server for the pbx part, if you need crm and such, I'd recommend using a separate server, and if you can, a different hosting location or connection, that way your upload bandwidth will not get so cluttered.

    if you inform the current speed of your connection its easier to tell you if its going to work, also, if the remote agents are going to use a softphone or an ipphone, or maybe an ATA.

    But your biggest problem is the upload bandwidth limit you have on your location, check you upload limit on the connection you plan to use, thats probably your biggest bottleneck.

    On the agents side, many things could be in the way, mostly bandwidth, other then that, it will be the configuration, it might be best to have an ATA or ip-phone on their end, remember to double check your preferences on the codec to be used.

    if you can afford to keep away from softphones i would suggest so, because the computers these people have might be slow, might even be fast but have some firewalls, games, and a whole bunch of other things that can make it slow at times and that can have an effect on the quality of the calls (this has been my experience). also, ip phones can be quite expensive, plus you cant really guarantee the care someone will have with your equipment, have a look at some ATA like the linksys PAP2, cheap and you can have 2 extensions per ATA with it

    for the office, i would say go with ip-phones, its the best way to get things going fast.

    also, you might want to share what kind of phone lines you will use, that way we can tell you what equipment you'll need.. but thats up to you.

    The codec I have had most success with is U-law, it uses 64K per channel, so if you want 5 extensions, working with that codec, you'll need 320K up, and considering that you might have overhead and all, i'd say 512K up should be ok as long as its only being used for that, but if your office use the same bandwidth to send emails, access the internet, etc etc, you'll have some problems like calls breaking up or dropping.

    Like I said, if you can, host other apps on a different connection, so that your bandwidth doenst kill you...
     
  3. Bob

    Bob

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,400
    Likes Received:
    1
    Chris,

    The hardware required for the system would be minimal. As a base I would normally implement a Pentium 4 with 2Gb memory (1Gb will do, but memory is still cheap enough). Even the Pentium 4 is an overkill for that many, but offers room for expansion.

    The main concentration should be on your voice comms. One of the issues is that you have not explained is how your calls will come in or out. Are you using standard PSTN, E1, T1??

    Personally, if you are running a call centre, it is recommended that you remain with standard carrier lines (PSTN / E1 / T1) for incoming and outgoing calls, and just have your staff utilise VoIP for their remote phones. This would help reduce the bandwidth required, and from what I can understand, the remote phone ability is your main driver in this setup. Also, if you are having some VoIP comms issue, you won't end up with double the impact.

    If you spend a little bit of money on the link at the head office, it is possible for the staff to utilise the standard DSL accounts. In your headoffice, I recommend and SHDSL service, and for your initial setup probably a 512/512mb (note this is not ADSL 512/512). The reason for this is that the contention ration on SHDSL lines are much lower than ADSL, which is important for VoIP.

    GSM codec would probably be the codec that you go with. Yes G729 is a lower bandwidth codec, but you do sacrifice a bit of quality, especially if transcoding (codec conversion) occurs. GSM is generally acceptable to most people in terms of quality as it is similar to the codec that is used for Mobile phone calls.

    As a good guide as well, if you can get staff to get an ISP account that it is the same as the one you get in the office, this improves things immensely as they are not making a large number of hops to get your office. I recognise that this is not always possible however, and should not be a critical item.
    The connection that the staff should use should be 8mb/384k or a 512mb/512mb ADSL. The main concentration in choice product is the up channel. For one call, on adsl, you are only looking at 45-50kbs (includes some common overheads), but selecting a 128K upchannel, or 256k upchannel does not leave much room for headroom, especially if they are browsing at the same time. Also you have to remember as their PC's may not be controlled, there are probably a large number of programs loaded that are constantly sending and receiving, which impact on the bandwidth required.

    All the above is provided from real world examples and experience, not theoretical. It is possible to do it with less, and many may have done so, but I have also seen when it is not done right as well, and it is lot harder to resolve coming from the bottom up.

    Regards

    Bob
     
  4. chris

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    rslrdx / bob,

    Guys, Thanks for your replies. Here is a bit more info on what I am thinking.

    Head Office:

    I have a couple of options for the internet connection at the head office, either a 6MB-Down/800K-Up connection or a faster 10MB-Down/1MB-Up. I was hoping to run all in and out calls through this connection and not use regular phone lines. I can go with regular phone lines if you think the volume for 3 - 4 users through this connection will be too much. I can dedicate this connection solely to VOIP.

    I was not planning on using soft-phones. (Perhaps only for emergencies) The IP phone I think I need is the Linksys SPA942.

    I have an older Compaq DL380 1U server that I will use to run elastix... I think it's more than enough to handle the small number of users.

    Remote Offices:

    Again the plan here is to use the internet connection at the reps home to handle the VOIP Calls. The plan I am looking at for the reps homes is a 10MB-Down/1MB-Up. Again planning on using the Linksys SPA942.

    Total Users on the System:

    Head Office 2-3 Users Local, using IP Phones.
    Remote Users 2, Using IP Phones.

    I have the ability to use the same ISP for all locations. (Thanks for the recommendation Bob)

    Think I'm on the right track here?

    Chris
     
  5. Bob

    Bob

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,400
    Likes Received:
    1
    Chris,

    What you have put together in terms of spec sounds fine

    DL380 - no problems
    6Mb/800k - for what you are doing should be ample, with headroom as discussed.
    Dedicated for VoIP - reduces the chances that the VoIP is impacted by other traffic
    Same ISP for Remote Phones - good move and will definitely improve the sound quality
    SPA942 - Good choice - We use them for all call centres - good sound quality.

    If you were a client who came to me with this SPEC, we would feel that there is a very reasonable expectation that this would prove to be a commercially viable system. It is possible that you may be able to use the line for light internet as well (http etc), but test everything, and then try loading it up.

    A good implementation always looks at reducing the possibility of any issues. If you leave too many variables that could fail, you may never really resolve your issues, not in an acceptable time frame anyhow.

    Also one other comment. The Plantronics M214i headset is a good fit for the Linksys SPA942, as well as having the ability to connect to the softphones if required via USB. It is very low cost as well.

    Regards

    Bob
     
  6. rslrdx

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    I second what Bob said.
     
  7. chris

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bob / rslrdx,

    Thanks again for your feedback... It's nice to know I have a fighting chance with this.

    <installing elastix now>... I'l let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again.

    Chris (Toronto)
     

Share This Page