Microsoft has significantly chopped the price of standard support for Azure customers and cut the time it takes to respond to critical support calls.
The cloud giant said it was cutting the price for its standard technical and billing support service for Azure by about two-thirds, dropping the cost from $300 per month down to a fixed $100 per month, in a Thursday blog post.
New Signature, a top Microsoft Azure partner, believes that Microsoft's support changes are very positive for end customers, and could encourage more customers to adopt Azure.
"In order to obtain support for workloads in the past, we recommended most customers who didn’t have an Enterprise Agreement purchase the Professional Direct support level, which remains a $1,000 per month charge," explained Reed Wiedower, CTO for New Signature.
For Professional Direct support customers, going from $1,000 a month to $100 a month for support is huge, and could mean more Azure users for Microsoft, Wiedower said.
At the same time, Microsoft revealed shortened initial response times for critical cases, dropping the window from two hours to one hour for customers.
"We are pleased to announce important updates for Azure Standard support," the Microsoft Azure team posted on its cloud strategy blog. "With these changes, Azure now offers the most cost-effective and predictable support offering amongst major cloud providers."
Azure support costs have been burdensome for business customers, many of whom have had to dedicate one-fourth of their cloud spend to support alone. Wiedower said that by dropping support costs and response times, Microsoft is proving to customers that it can afford to aggressively price its support services and lower initial response times because Azure is a highly reliable cloud service that isn't impacted by large-scale outages.
These moves contribute to the ever-lowering price of cloud computing, which could be seen as a threat to some Azure channel partners.
However, there are still plenty of components running on Azure, including virtual machines and applications, that will need handling. That's where solution providers are still critical in ensuring a successful cloud deployment and ongoing cloud environment, according to Wiedower.
"We don’t see the changes impacting partners that provide support to applications that are built upon Azure," he said.
Government customers will also see a steep price decrease from $375, to $125 per month. These customers will also benefit from the new one-hour response windows for critical customers, according to Microsoft.
Cloud competitor Amazon Web Services offers a basic support plan for businesses that start at $100 per month, and also boasts one-hour response times, but bills can fluctuate based on a customer's percentage of AWS monthly. Google offers basic support for $150 per month with a four-hour response time for critical cases.