Amazon spruces up cloud support options

Amazon (s amzn) is looking more like an enterprise tech vendor all the time. On Thursday, it announced spruced-up support offerings for the Amazon Web Services’ cloud. For example, all AWS customers are now automatically enrolled in the free Basic support tier and Amazon cut prices on its higher-level paid support tiers.
In late January, Amazon rolled out new premium paid support options and a Trusted Advisor service that monitors customer usage of AWS, recommending configuration changes and new services to streamline operations and close security gaps such as open ports or unprotected Amazon Machine Images.
Now AWS is renaming its tiered support from precious metals to Basic, Developer, Business and Enterprise plans. Old plans had the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum designations. The Trusted Advisor services still come with the top-tier Business and Enterprise options which now also offer new chat-based support.
Back in January, initial comments on the program included calls for Amazon to offer the Trusted Advisor service free to all customers. That didn’t happen, it is still part of the paid support tiers. The Developer tier costs $49 per month. Amazon cut the minimum price on the Business tier to $100 from $400 per month. (There is more pricing information here.)

Enterprise customers demand enterprise support

Here’s the support blueprint as outlined in the AWS blog:

  • Basic – All AWS customers are automatically enrolled in Basic support for free. You get immediate 24×7 access to customer service for billing and account issues, and technical support for system health issues. You also have access to our collection of technical FAQs, our best practices guides, the AWS Service Health Dashboard, and the AWS Developer Forums.
  • Developer – This plan gives you access to 1-on-1 email support for any AWS question during your local business hours. Our team will help you with the configuration, operation, and maintenance of applications that make use of core AWS services and features.
  • Business – This plan gives you one-hour response time, available 24×7 by phone, chat, or email, along with access to the AWS Trusted Advisor and a new Trusted Advisor self-service tool. As part of today’s announcement, we have reduced the minimum monthly fee for this plan from $400 to just $100 and added a 3% pricing tier.
  • Enterprise – This plan includes all of the plan components of Business support, along with 15-minute response time and a dedicated Technical Account Manager. Pricing has also been reduced; the flat 10% fee has been replaced by 10%, 7%, 5%, and 3% tiers (as a percentage of your AWS bill).

As companies use Amazon’s public cloud for more than the usual development and testing, service and support options become more important. In many ways, Amazon is moving up the stack, adding more enterprise-class cloud service and support as legacy software powers like Oracle(s orcl), Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) and Microsoft(s msft) are trying to encroach on Amazon’s turf as top cloud service provider.
In the middle there, a huge battle is brewing. We’ll doubtless hear more about this landscape at GigaOM Structure conference next week where both Werner Vogels, AWS VP and CTO, and Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s server and tools business will speak.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Will Merydith