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Newvem enlists tech support friends to squelch AWS hiccups

No one likes AWS support – and they don't fix stuff anyway

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Newvem, which has carved a niche for itself babysitting compute and storage capacity on the Amazon Web Services cloud with its Cloud Care service, is now brokering tech-support services with third parties to help get their AWS setups correctly configured and keep them that way.

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The offering, which Newvem calls DevOps on Demand, is not a formal product but rather a collective effort between Newvem users and a pack of about twenty AWS consulting organizations that the company has identified around the globe who have the skills and personnel to help AWS users fix their problems. The Cloud Care service is used to identify errors in the way AWS services are configured, and then Newvem will hand off the work to one of its third-party consultants to actually fix the problem on a time-and-materials basis.

Datapipe, a managed-service provider that uses the AWS cloud as its raw infrastructure and which also uses Cloud Care to demonstrate to customers that it is fixing issues on the AWS slices it manages for corporate customers, gave Newvem the idea to start acting as a go-between for companies with issues in their AWS setups – but no skills or time to resolve those issues – and consultants who can fix the issues and are looking for work.

"We believe that over time these consultants will evolve their relationship from time-and-materials on a one-time support contract to a more recurring relationship with customers," says Zev Laderman, cofounder and CEO at Newvem, which has around 1,500 customers with over 125,000 EC2 instances running on the AWS cloud.

You might think that maybe what companies ought to do is pay for Amazon's own tech support for AWS, which runs you on the order of between 7 and 10 per cent of your total monthly AWS bill if you are a large enough customer to even warrant such handholding. But according to Laderman, the problem with AWS tech support is that it is not only expensive, but that the techies at Amazon don't actually do anything to fix issues – they just tell you what's wrong and you have to fix it yourself.

"We have thousands of AWS customers, and we have not found anyone who is happy with their tech support," says Laderman.

The DevOps on Demand effort by Newvem with its AWS consultancy partners is, in effect, having Cloud Care call a doctor to make a house call to your AWS setup.

In many cases, companies don't have the skills to fix the issues, and they don't have the time to learn them, either. And Newvem knows a thing or two about how much in a bind companies can get, because it has published over 300 how-to guides for all aspects of managing the AWS infrastructure to help companies become self-reliant. The fact remains that many companies are using AWS because it is easy to set up, but that doesn't mean companies have set up their virty CPUs and storage properly or securely.

A lot of times, companies don't even know they have issues until they fire up a cloud control freak such as Cloud Care or the new Trusted Advisor for Amazon, which was originally only given to high-end AWS customers but launched as a freebie promotional service for all AWS users a month ago – no doubt to compete against the freebie Cloud Care service from Newvem. Cloud Care has read-only access to CloudWatch and other Amazon APIs to gather all kinds of performance and security information about whatever services you have running on AWS, and Trusted Advisor does much the same.

Newvem is not publishing the list of consultancies it is working with because it doesn't want companies to approach them directly – which is understandable since Newvem is getting a cut of the action. How much, Laderman would not say, but when El Reg guessed around 10 per cent, he said we were in the ballpark. Newvem is also not publishing the list of partners publicly because it doesn't want to make it easier for AWS to offer a similar hand-off service should it desire to copycat the DevOps on Demand offering. ®

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