On-Prem contact center vs. CCaaS

April 27, 2021

What's the difference between CCaaS and On-Premise Contact Center?

The first wave of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) began in the early 2000’s with companies such as inContact, Five9 and Interactive Intelligence (now Genesys) filling a gap that existed in the call center industry for companies that wanted to take traditional call center features and host them in the cloud. Traditionally, businesses with call centers had to host the technology either on premises (on-prem), or via co-located data centers that required expensive high-speed connectivity and complicated support arrangements.

With the introduction and acceleration of Cloud Computing in the mid-2000’s, suddenly hosting your entire contact center in the cloud became a much more realistic endeavor, and consequently many business executives made the decision to get out of the data center business altogether.

Fast forward to present day and the CCaaS industry has taken the customer experience world by the throat and emerged as a true alternative which in many cases is driving innovation where technology had stagnated.

So, for the executive who may be slightly out of the loop, the differences between the two solutions may be a bit confusing. But, in  nutshell, the distinctions between the two generally boil down to price, features, flexibility, and installation.

Let's define the terms

On-Premise Contact Center

Contact Center on premise implies that everything is hosted in a physical location. All personnel, communication software, hardware, and other installations are hosted in an on-site call center in your place of work or business.

You will be required to staff a team of technicians to install, maintain and keep the communication servers such as the PBX running smoothly. Typically a managed service solution will be utilized to augment on-staff resources for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Contact Center as a Service

Contact center as a service is quite different from being on a premise. It means that all services are hosted away from your place of business. Cloud-based contact centers are a popular trend as businesses try to move their services online. Since everything is hosted online, your clients will only access the services from mobile and desktop apps issued by the telephone service provides. Typically as is the case with most software delivered as a service, most of the time the agents will require nothing more than a web browser.

If you choose a cloud-based contact center, it is best to ensure that the service providers can provide sufficient bandwidth your clients can access without buffering or extended loading times. In call cases with hosting data in the cloud, it is very important to be mindful of compliance (if applicable) and corporate data policies.

You must be wondering how the two compare. Here we go.

The Key Differences

Building a contact center on premise call is a slow and tedious task. You will have to shop around for suitable hardware, or in many cases be forced to use what the manufacturer supports. Additionally, you typically will need to get licensing, transport, build the necessary infrastructure, and finally acquire compatible software.

Setting up a contact center as a service is typically easy. You leave the cloud service provider to do all the dirty work. They will give you an app to install on your desktop, or provide you with a login URL for your agents.


Setting up a contact center on a premise is usually expensive. You will have to buy equipment such as phones, computers, headsets and get licensing for every agent and supervisor. Small enterprises seeking to expand their current office space might have to expand or modify the offices to accommodate the new hardware. In addition to that, you will have to foot technological advances bills every few years and pay annual software maintenance fees in the average range of 20%.

The simple conclusion is that operating a contact center as a service is way much cheaper. Provided your business network is robust and you have sound operational capabilities, the shift to an op-ex model is very attractive for many business owners and decision makers these days.


On-site call centers are immobile. Everything is restricted to a physical location, and your personnel cannot work remotely. Scaling up will need you to purchase extra equipment, while scaling down leaves a surplus.

Contact centers as a service are quite flexible. Your personnel can work remotely provided they have a strong internet connection. Scaling up or down is a simple as managing a satellite TV subscription.

Out of the Box Features & Functionality 

On-site solutions come with core calling features including voice, call routing, queues, etc. In today’s world, customers need more options like omnichannel, workforce management/optimization, power dialers, etc. This requires integrating many other solutions to make your new platform function the way you want. These features can add up.

Contact centers as a service are comprehensive platforms. The top cloud contact centers come with a full suite of solutions integrated into the platform that can be activated on demand. The pricing varies depending on who "owns" the technology but the ease of use and deployment tends to be much higher.


The decision on whether to set up a premised contact center or a contact center as a service depends on you. However, the odds are stacked against the latter in favor of the former. You are now informed. Make the right decision.

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