Rackspace, Amazon Butt Heads Over Cloud Support

"What [Amazon] announced, for us, in many ways is good news," said Lew Moorman, Rackspace's cloud president and chief strategy officer, adding that AWS's new cloud support offerings is a signal that cloud support matters and other cloud providers are taking notice.

Last week Amazon Web Services added new tiers to its cloud computing support structure while also cutting the cost to users. At the same time, Amazon guaranteed a faster response time when cloud support is needed. Amazon launched a Platinum cloud support package aimed at the enterprise which costs 10 percent of AWS usage with a $15,000 monthly minimum, which gets users access to a Technical Account Manager (TAM) and swifter response times. A new Bronze cloud support level is aimed at individual developers for $49 per month.

AWS also slashed prices for its Silver and Gold cloud support plans, with minimum costs of $100 per month or $400 per month respectively. Additionally, Amazon reduced the maximum initial response time for normal severity cases from 24 business hours to 12 and for low severity cases from 48 business hours to 24 business hours.

And while Moorman calls Amazon's new cloud support options a step in the right direction, he says it's missing the point. "The price is still, in our view and in terms of what we're offering, very expensive," he said.

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Moorman said Rackspace cloud support is included in the cost of its offerings, and that includes 24/7/365 phone, chat, e-mail and trouble ticket support, the same options for which AWS charges $400.

Rackspace's Managed Service Level, on the other hand, is "extremely different from anything that Amazon does," Moorman said. Rackspace's Managed Service Level cloud support, which costs a monthly account fee of $100 and then 12 cents per hour on top of the server costs, essentially lets Rackspace become an extension of the IT department and act as a managed service provider or systems administrator. Rackspace can respond to monitoring and alert incidents, trouble shoot and provide additional services.

"[Amazon does] not do anything that a system administrator will do," Moorman said, adding that Amazon stops at product support and likely won't expand its service and support offerings to offer managed services. "It's not a 'we try harder' thing, we do it completely differently."

Moorman said cloud computing and traditional dedicated hosting go hand-in-hand and Rackspace wants to make customers feel likely they're using traditional infrastructures.

Amazon stood by its new support options.

"Our customers are what drove us to provide these new plans. As customers move more production applications into the cloud, they often want help in the migration," Kay Kinton, an AWS spokesperson said in an email to CRN. "There is no free support -- you can have it bundled into the underlying technology cost or you can unbundle and let customers choose the support plan that works best for them. We think our customers want the flexibility to choose the plan that meets their particular needs and you can hold up our total cost to anyone's."

Moorman said there isn't a right or wrong way to offer cloud support, but Amazon's launch of new support options "validates Rackspace's strategy" and recognizes that cloud computing environments are complicated to run and support is a necessity.

"Amazon is very much a technology company … what they're acknowledging now is they have to add the human aspect and the accountability aspect," Moorman said.