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Amazon Expands Cloud Computing Support, Drops Prices

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In a bid to get more customers to sign up for technical support, Amazon Web Services has lowered its pricing on two existing plans and is offering a new high end and low end plan to appeal to a broader range of users.

Premium Platinum support, for example, offers enterprises a named technical account manager and 15-minute response times on critical requests. AWS previous highest level of support was Premium Gold, which offered one-hour response times and no named account manager.

Its other existing option was Premium Silver, which offered four-hour response times but only during the business day, defined as 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the customer’s time zone. The Platinum and Gold plans, on the other hand, are around the clock, 365 days a year.

“Companies, regardless of size, are running more production systems in EC2 -- such as the federal government’s Treasury Department, NASA, NetFlix, Sony, the New York Times. Some are asking very directly that we have this type of (Platinum) service,” said Adam Selipsky, VP of Amazon Web Services, in an interview.

With Platinum level service, the technical account manager will have “broad AWS experience, become knowledgeable about a customer’s use case... and serve as a primary point of contact.” Giving customers names of individuals in the AWS organization is one way of reassuring those who’ve come to rely on EC2 infrastructure and services that AWS will function in a more direct and less distant manner. Some Amazon customers, such as pioneer cloud user Pfizer, have sought both stronger technical support and stiffer penalties in AWS service level agreements.

AWS also added a new Bronze level of support aimed primarily at developers, which provides technical support the same business day. Pricing for Bronze is $49 a month, with no limit on the number of requests the customer may initiate.

Offering new high and low end technical support services is Amazon’s way of “trying to broaden the offerings and satisfy the needs of all customer segments,” Selipsky said. Asked how many customers currently pay for Silver or Gold support, Selipsky declined to disclose a figure. “Hundreds of thousands of customers,” but by no means all customers, he said, provide self-service on EC2, its S3 storage and other services. That’s known as AWS Basic Service for which there is no charge.

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