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Amazon Web Services LLC (AWS), an Amazon.com Company (NASDAQ: AMZN),  on Thursday announced expanded free support for all AWS customers, reduced pricing on premium support plans and multiple new features to help customers better interact with and improve their use of AWS, including chat functionality and proactive alerts when opportunities exist to save money, improve system performance, or close security gaps. AWS Support is a fast-response support channel that is staffed around the clock with experienced and technical support engineers. For more information on the pricing and the new options, visit http://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/.

As part of Thursday’s announcement of the new support features, the broad selection of support offerings offered by AWS have been renamed to better align with the customer’s need or use case. All plans include support for an unlimited number of cases, are available worldwide, have no long term contracts, and can be cancelled at any time.

  • Basic (Expanded free tier): Upon signup for AWS, all customers are automatically enrolled in Basic support for free. Added features in this tier include immediate, around-the-clock access to customer service by email or phone for billing and account issues, and technical support for system health issues. Customers continue to have access to technical FAQs, best practices guides, the AWS Service Health Dashboard, and the AWS Developer Forums, which are monitored and responded to by AWS support engineers.
  • Developer ($49/month and 1:1 customer support): Previously called the Bronze tier, the Developer tier includes all components of the Basic tier, plus the following: 12-hour response time to support cases submitted, 1:1 customer support for any AWS-related question, and access to AWS Technical Support Engineers via email through the AWS online support center during local business hours to help configure, operate, and maintain core AWS services and features. The Developer plan is $49 per month.
  • Business (Access to AWS Trusted Advisor): Previously called the Gold tier, the Business tier includes all components of the Basic and Developer tiers, plus the following: one-hour response time to support cases submitted and support engineers available 24/7 via phone, chat or email. In addition to chat capabilities, new features include access to AWS Trusted Advisor, a program that monitors AWS infrastructure services, identifies customers’ usage patterns, and notifies customers when opportunities exist to save money, improve system performance, or close security gaps. Customers also receive support for the most common third-party software running on AWS. The Business tier minimum pricing has been reduced from $400 to $100 per month and a 3% usage-based pricing tier has been added to the existing pricing tiers of 10%, 7%, and 5%.
  • Enterprise (New pricing based on usage vs. flat fee): Previously called the Platinum tier, the Enterprise tier provides customers with all of the features of the Business tier, plus 15-minute response time for mission-critical issues, and a dedicated Technical Account Manager who is intimately familiar with the customer’s specific AWS architecture. Technical Account Managers will also conduct periodic business reviews for infrastructure planning, report metrics, collaborate on launches, and connect customers to AWS Solutions Architects as needed. The Trusted Advisor program is also available to all Enterprise tier customers. The Enterprise tier minimum pricing has been reduced from a flat 10% usage fee to usage-based pricing tiers of 10%, 7%, 5% and 3%.

"Amazon has been passionate about customer service since we started the company 17 years ago,” said Brent Jaye, General Manager of AWS Support. “Putting customers first is part of our DNA. We not only employ talented support engineers all over the world, but also build technology that enables them to provide proactive and helpful information to our customers. Our new Trusted Advisor program is a good example of that -- we use technology to determine if customers have security adjustments they should make, or if they’re not architected as fault tolerant as they might want to be, or if they have under-utilized instances that they can terminate and save money. We then use both technology and support professionals to surface this information to customers.”

Customers are using AWS Support for various purposes, ranging from technical support for new product launches, to taking advantage of a Technical Account Manager to architect optimally on AWS, to identifying areas where they can use AWS more efficiently.

“We have used AWS Platinum Support since we began our cloud migration process 18 months ago," said Lex Crosett, Vice President Product Development and CIO, Earth Networks. “During this process, we consolidated four colocation data centers with 750 servers and built a development, QA, and production facility on AWS. With our Technical Account Manager, we had quick access to the service teams resulting in rapid access to useful new features in DynamoDB and Cloudfront, among others, that continue to improve our scalability and cost economics. AWS Support is without a doubt our highest functioning, most customer success oriented vendor team. They are much more than a support team, they function as a strategic partner and trusted advisor to us.”

“Given the extent of our use of AWS, Netflix really benefitted from the AWS Enterprise Support model,” said Yury Izrailevsky, VP, Cloud Computing and Platform Engineering at Netflix. “AWS Support and our dedicated Technical Account Manager continuously work with our teams to ensure the availability, cost effectiveness and security of our infrastructure running on AWS. This translates to providing a great experience for our customers. We’ve been pleased with the technical skills of the support team, but also their ability to act as a central point of contact to engage resources throughout AWS as needed.”

This year’s Super Bowl was interactive and viewers used the Shazam App to engage with all aspects of the event – from the game, to the ads and the half-time show starring Madonna. To ensure that the application provided an ideal customer experience, Shazam used AWS Enterprise Support. “A large contributor to the success of Shazam’s Super Bowl event was the work done beforehand with the help of AWS Enterprise Support,” said Jason Titus, CTO, Shazam. “Working hand in hand with a dedicated Technical Account Manager, the support team provided real-time assistance, ensuring our application would scale to meet the anticipated demand of the event. In addition to the upfront support, the AWS Enterprise Support team also provided around the clock monitoring and assistance from the US and Europe during the event, and had AWS engineering resources on standby should their assistance be required.”

As part of our AWS Business Support we’ve been able to take advantage of AWS Trusted Advisor,” said Spencer Colson, Program Manager at Smartronix. “The system provides us reports of our usage and has been a great way to identify opportunities to optimize our infrastructure and help us make changes accordingly. By using the information supplied by AWS Trusted Advisor, we are taking steps to reduce our overall costs by optimizing the use of Reserved Instances and right-sizing systems based on utilization trends. We are excited to now have access to a self-service interface where we can review updated Trusted Advisor recommendations at any time.”

More Stories By Liz McMillan

News Desk compiles and publishes breaking news stories, press releases and latest news articles as they happen.