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Amazon expands cloud services support

Adds 'bronze' and 'platinum' offerings, chops prices

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Amazon Web Services, the cloudy infrastructure-peddling arm of the online retailing giant, is expanding its support offerings with entry and higher-end options while at the same time chopping prices on existing support levels.

AWS, of course, is the juggernaut of the cloud computing field right now, with its EC2 compute cloud, EBS and S3 storage clouds, and various related services setting the pace in virtualized, utility-priced raw IT infrastructure. Amazon already offered a basic support contract for free to AWS users, giving customers free access to its resource center, service health dashboard, developer forums and technical FAQs. For those who need a little more hand-holding before they put applications into production on EC2 and its related storage clouds, Amazon offered a silver support contract with two human beings from you company allowed to pester AWS and one-on-one online support with four-hour response time during local business hours (from 8am to 6pm). The gold level of support boosted coverage to 24x7, allowed another person to contact AWS from your firm, offered one-on-one contact though phones instead of the Web, and cut response time back to one hour on support issues.

Starting today, Amazon is offering a bronze level of support with a flat fee of $49 per month. With bronze support, you get all the same stuff as the silver support contract, but there is a 12-hour response time on technical issues and only one person can be tied to your account. (There is no phone support for bronze and silver contracts.)

Amazon has cut the usage charges on the existing silver and gold support contracts in half with today's announcement, too. As you can see from the current support price list, the silver support now costs either $100 per month or 5 per cent of the monthly usage fees, whichever is larger. (The crossover point is when you are paying $2,000 per month for AWS cloudy infrastructure.) On the gold contract, you pay $400 or a percentage of monthly AWS infrastructure fees, which goes down as you spend more. The scale for the gold service is 10 per cent of the first $10,000 in services consumed per month, 7 per cent of the next $70,000 consumed, and 5 per cent for anything over $80,000. At the $400 per month minimum, Amazon is basically saying gold-level support customers should be consuming about $4,000 a month in services. The pricing also tells customers that as they consume lots and lots of AWS capacity, they asymptotically approach the 5 per cent pricing level of the silver-level contract, but get all of the gold-level goodies, such as fast turnaround and human telephone support.

In addition to cutting prices on the silver and gold support, Amazon has added a platinum support level to AWS. With this level, the number of people on the account is unlimited and Amazon ensures 15 minute turnaround time. Platinum support also gives you direct access to AWS technical account managers, "white glove" case routing to get your technical issues routed to the right AWS engineers, and performance and capacity planning reviews from Amazon for the services you pay for. The Platinum support costs $15,000 per month or 10 per cent of monthly AWS usage, whichever is larger.

It will be interesting to see what black-level support entails. Perhaps Jeff Bezos hands out Starbucks coffee to your tech support team personally.

Bootnote: This story originally stated that the person counts for the Amazon AWS support contracts were the number of people Amazon allocated to the account; it is actually the number of people at your company that can contact AWS. ®

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