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How to Choose the Ideal Option for Your AWS Support Plan

Abstract

The cloud is here, and it’s here to stay. If your business doesn’t have sufficient AWS support in place, you’re leaving it open to serious risk.

But with so much complexity and unfamiliarity involved with the cloud, how do you know what sufficient support should really include?

In this article, we explore the options available to you, compare their pros and cons, and help you understand what level of AWS support your business needs.

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Index

Introduction

As the world has adapted to a new way of working over the past two years, cloud adoption has seen a meteoric rise.

The sudden, unexpected shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to make hasty decisions to answer this question:

“How do you securely deliver your IT infrastructure into your employees’ homes and on to their mobile devices?”

For many of us, the answer was to drastically accelerate cloud migrations and implementations. Of course, this was less of a choice and more of a necessity, to keep operations running and maintain business continuity.

But these changes in the way we work have caused other things to change, too.

  • It drove an increased demand from the workforce for seamless access to their applications and IT systems at home, from personal devices, and on the move.
  • On the flip side, customers now won’t settle for less than instant, on-demand delivery of information, services, products, content, and anything else available to them in a digital context.

If you’re now running your critical applications and business processes in the cloud, you simply cannot afford any down-time, poor performance, or security breaches.

So, what does this all mean?

Well, it means robust cloud support is crucial if you want to maintain confidence that your business operations can continue to run without any unexpected interruptions.

Despite this, many businesses have still overlooked cloud support. Either that, or they don’t receive an adequate level of support from their existing provider.

If you’re in a similar situation, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and you’re not in a position that’s unfixable.

In this article, we’ll explore the various options available for AWS support, compare the pros and cons of each, and help you understand the best approach for your business.

 

While this article discusses the AWS cloud specifically, the majority of the information here will be relevant for any cloud platform.

However, if you’re a Microsoft Azure user, you can click here to read our corresponding article which takes a dedicated look at that platform.

Do You Have AWS Support?

It’s important to avoid the common assumption that because you’ve invested in the cloud it automatically comes fully supported.

Remember, as the cloud provider, Amazon supplies you with virtual IT infrastructure. That comes in the form of the cloud platform, AWS.

The maintenance and support of that infrastructure is an additional responsibility. This is where many businesses, especially those who had to migrate to the cloud unexpectedly during the 2020 lockdowns, have run into challenges.

The infrastructure-as-a-service model of a cloud system means that the provider is just giving you a subscription to its technology. Everything else comes in addition to that, including your procurement of full support to ensure everything keeps performing as expected.

When to Re-Assess Your Current AWS Support

Whether you’re unsure if your existing AWS support plan is sufficient, or are unaware of what support you even have in place, it would be wise to review and reassess if you’re in any of the following scenarios:

  • If you’re no longer satisfied with your existing AWS support service
  • If you your cloud was implemented by a partner without ongoing support included
  • If your cloud costs have been higher than expected or difficult to control
  • If your cloud costs are too unpredictable in an unfamiliar OpEx model
  • If you find the frequent AWS platform updates from Amazon are hard to keep up with
  • If your in-house team has taken on the responsibility without having the necessary skills
  • If an in-house employee currently responsible for cloud support is leaving
  • If your business is growing and your cloud support can no longer keep up.

So, where should you get your cloud support from?

Your ideal option for cloud support will be unique to your individual business, as no two organisations are exactly the same.

It’s important to take a forensic look at your IT infrastructure, how you use it, and what options are available within your budget, then make an informed decision which will cover you in the long-term.

In the next section, we’ll help you assess those options and offering guidance for what you need.

Cloud support should minimise risk and give you full confidence in your cloud deployment. By the end of this article, you’ll understand the best way to make that happen.

Understanding the Options for AWS Support

There are several options for AWS support you can choose from. Many of you will probably even have some level of existing arrangement in place with one of these:

1. Getting AWS Support Directly from Amazon

Amazon does offer some free AWS support for its cloud customers.

This is mostly a safety net for you if you’re just getting started out with the cloud. But, beneath the surface, it provides little value other than the basics.

Primarily, this is delivered in the form of online resources like forums, wikis, documentation, and impersonal contact with a (usually very busy) help desk.

If you have a live cloud deployment, Amazon does also offer a cloud support service which is based on a ticketing system for troubleshooting cases.

For enterprise-level customers, there’s a more attentive support service available, but it comes at a very high cost and is mostly available to organisations of a certain size only.

The AWS support plans are organised into four tiers:

  • Developer
  • Business
  • Enterprise On-Ramp
  • Enterprise
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Case study:
Oak Software

Choosing the right AWS Partner for supporting existing AWS infrastructure.

How the right cloud management service can improve security & performance for the subscription management of over 1000 publications annually. 

Read the full case study

2. Working with a Partner

This is the most common option taken by the majority of businesses. You may well already have a partner in place responsible for supporting your AWS deployments. Amazon does encourage the use of technology partners within its cloud ecosystem, much like Microsoft has done for many years before it.

Partners come in all shapes and sizes, offering a variety of different services. These organisations exist to prevent Amazon from having to get too hands-on with its cloud customers.

Through its partner network for AWS support, Amazon pairs you with partners at the appropriate level for the size of your organisation or cloud investment.

Small Specialist Partners or Consultants

These will often be one-man bands, or small teams made up of a handful of people.

If you work with a partner like this, you’re essentially adding a new member to your team who will be available when you need them. But the reliability of that team member will be limited, as they’ll always be juggling commitments to their other clients with only a finite amount of time available.

These partners won’t be able to scale the services they offer, either. So, if you find your business growing, and your cloud environment growing with it, you may outgrow the level of support your partner is able to provide you.

Medium-Sized Partners

The mid-tier partners will have several teams within their organisations, often focusing on different specialties or specific areas of the cloud ecosystem.

For example, some partners’ teams may focus on certain Amazon products only like virtual machines.

Because of that, you’ll need to ensure that you’re getting expertise that aligns with the requirements of your unique cloud environment.

Another important thing to note here is these medium-sized partners usually operate on a project or consultancy-based model, where support is provided by a dedicated team assigned to you.

This is highly preferable when compared to the impersonal support offered by Amazon directly.

Large-Scale Partners

The larger partners often have a close working relationship with Amazon. These could even be the direct re-seller who you procured your cloud from.

Their processes, and the conventions of their organisation, will probably mirror that of Amazon closely, and they’ll have a great deal of resources available to ensure you receive comprehensive support.

However, some of these partners are so big, with so many clients, that you’ll run into similar challenges to those faced when dealing directly with Amazon.

It’s also possible these large consultancies will have a core business, recruiting smaller specialist partners to provide services on a white-label basis.

 

3. Maintaining and Supporting Your Own Cloud Environment (DIY)

Of course, taking on the role of maintaining and supporting your cloud environment with your own in-house resources is another approach.

Saving on the cost of a partner may seem like a financially sensible option on the surface. But you’ll find this far more complicated than expected. By the time that becomes evident, it’s often too late.

Taking on the burden of cloud support yourself also comes with the highest level of risk in some ways.

The drain on internal resources that occurs with full-time cloud management is often unsustainable for smaller and medium-sized businesses, as well.

Another possibility here is to hire a lone consultant to join your team and support your cloud based on a daily rate, but these are often very expensive.

The Pros and Cons for AWS Support

You must ensure you select the AWS support plan which can best meet your business’s unique requirements.

And there are some clear advantages and disadvantages for each option, some of which will resonate with you more than others.

We’ve weighed them up against each other here to help make the choice an easier one for you.

AWS Support Direct from Amazon

Remember, Amazon is a huge global corporation with hundreds of thousands of customers using its infrastructure-as-a-service offerings.

The cloud is so vast, and you can’t expect the provider to be hands-on in supporting each of its customers individually.

The Pros:
  • You’re working with the provider who has built the technology. Therefore, they should be able to help you solve any issues once you do eventually reach them for support
  • They have more man-power and technical capabilities than most partners
  • They often offer one-hour response or ticket turn-around times
  • They have a large global support team with extensive documentation and information at their disposal
  • 24-hour support is always available
  • Your cloud platform will automatically be kept fully up-to-date.

 

The Cons:
  • The service will be impersonal, from a generic playbook, and not specific to your unique issue or need
  • You’ll be placed in a long queue any time you raise an issue
  • You’ll have to talk to a different rep every time
  • They’ll know little about your business and your IT infrastructure
  • They won’t have familiarity with any custom applications you’ve deployed
  • They’ll often automatically class an issue as resolved after running a number of standard checks, without providing any real help beyond their minimum obligation
  • Because of the huge number of customers relying on them, the support available is limited to what can be found as common ground to offer across all their customers
  • If you do take on more dedicated support packages, the cost will be extremely high.

 

The verdict?

If you’re relying on a global tech giant like Amazon to manage your AWS support, the level of service will often depend on how much you’re able to pay for it.

In most cases, you’ll leave yourself with only the basics to fall back on, which also means you’re accepting a high level of risk.

Furthermore, the total time it takes for them to help you solve a problem will often be longer, making it harder to prevent loss of business continuity.

We’d strongly recommend a more personal, attentive, and cost-effective approach to cloud support, especially for most small and medium-sized businesses.

 

AWS Support Partners

Partners are generally very helpful and reliable. But it’s important to remember each partner organisation is limited by its own resources, workload, and technical capabilities.

The Pros
  • They’ll have a structured approach to AWS support with best practices in place
  • Many will have a team in place with valuable experience and expertise
  • Most partners will be certified in cloud support
  • You can see evidence of their credibility and capability through their existing clients
  • They’ll work with you in a similar agreement to a traditional IT support contract
  • If you have a problem, simply raise a ticket and they’ll respond ASAP
  • You’ll likely work with a dedicated rep who will get to know your business well
  • Many partners will also offer additional services for consultancy and projects if you need it.
The Cons
  • Their primary channel will be a support desk, which probably won’t give you access to their technical people
  • The response times could be longer than you like, depending on the size of the organisation
  • They may also have a high volume of clients all battling for their time and attention
  • Most partners will only have one or two cloud experts, and they will usually be busy with high-profile projects
  • They won’t have any advanced technology solutions or automation capabilities to optimise the performance of your cloud
  • If you rep takes time off, you’ll be switched over to an unfamiliar rep who will be learning your business almost from scratch
  • If they face any technical issues, it may have a knock-on effect to your own business continuity by no fault of your own.

The Verdict?

The approach of working with a support partner is a good option.

It’s often more cost-effective and reliable than working directly with Amazon, and you’ll be gaining a great deal of experience in cloud maintenance and support.

AWS Partners add to the capability of your in-house team, but they can only do so much for you while juggling several other clients.

While we’d advise that working with a partner is a smarter choice than relying directly on your cloud provider, it’s worth doing some more digging to find an optimum approach.

 

‘DIY’ Cloud Support

Of course, you can always leave the responsibility of supporting your cloud infrastructure to your existing IT team.

To go back to the earlier point of rushing through cloud deployments due to the pressures of the pandemic, this became fare more common during the 2020 lockdowns.

If you’ve decided to leave your cloud support in the hands of an in-house developer or IT manager, we understand it may have been a stop-gap or necessity at the time. But, as mentioned earlier, the risk here is very high.

You may be facing, or will eventually begin to experience, challenges in areas like maintenance, management, performance, and over-spending on monthly costs.

You’re also putting yourself in a position where you’ll need to spend significant time and money training your staff in skills specific to the cloud (or hiring a new employee entirely).

The Pros
  • Your cloud support is entirely under your own control, and done on your own terms
  • Your business’s issues will be the only priority of your cloud support team
  • As your team is in-house, you’ll have full visibility into your cloud environment at all times
  • You’ll also be fully aware of your own capabilities and limits, allowing you to plan accordingly.
The Cons
  • Your staff will require costly and time-consuming training in cloud support
  • Once trained, those staff will likely be able to command a higher wage
  • Those staff could even be poached to leave for a partner or consultancy organisation, then the investment in them would be wasted
  • Every issue you get with your cloud will be a new one to your support team, as they’ll be learning as they go
  • Even though your support is in-house, you’ll still need to resource three eight-hour shifts if you want 24/7 cloud support, plus holiday cover
  • There are so many aspects to holistic cloud support and management, that several employees with different specialisms will likely be required for larger IT infrastructures
  • As the AWS cloud platform evolves, your cloud support team will need to evolve with it.
The Verdict?

As mentioned, DIY cloud support is a highly risky approach with a long list of potential challenges involved.

The most important issue to consider here is the amount of time and money you’ll need to invest, just to reach a basic level of support.

Without proper monitoring and optimisation of your cloud usage, you’ll also be susceptible to drastic over-spending and surprises on each monthly bill.

And even with excellent training, your team will be lacking experience. With technology as complex as the cloud, this is a position we’d strongly advise against putting your business into.

Introducing igroup into the Conversation

With your critical applications and business processes running in the cloud, you should be looking for an AWS support service that can guarantee:

  • Reliability
  • Consistency
  • Accuracy
  • Predictability
  • Efficiency
  • Scalability

You’re highly unlikely to get all that from any of the three options discussed earlier.

Due to the vastness and complexity of the cloud, the support you can receive from a normal partner or managed service provider is rarely enough. A crucial element of effective cloud support today is having some form of technology solution as well.

Thankfully, there’s a fourth option available.

  • You don’t need to sit at the back of a long queue, waiting for your partner to eventually get to your ticket.
  • You don’t need to train an employee or hire someone new just to get a basic level of support in place.

At igroup, our team has a combined 50+ years of experience in cloud support, along with all the relevant certifications.

We provide a highly personalised service with AWS support, which includes advanced software and automation tools for the extra reassurance you’re looking for.

And that’s all for less than the cost of a partner’s support package or a fully trained in-house employee.

How can we do that? With CAMS.

CloudOps Active Management Solution (CAMS)

Our CloudOps Active Management Solution (CAMS) was developed by leveraging all our 10 years’ experience supporting and managing complex cloud environments.

CAMS is an easy-to-use, efficient system, which can be tailored to support your unique cloud infrastructure and meet your specific requirements.

It has been designed and automated to give you 24/7 access to:

  • A simple, personalised dashboard to manage your cloud environment
  • Comprehensive automated cloud support processes
  • Fault find and fix services
  • Proactive optimisation of your cloud usage and performance
  • Visibility into cloud spending and guaranteed cost savings
  • Automated reporting and analytics tools
  • In-built risk registers
  • Automated scanning and patching after platform updates.

In addition, we also assign you a dedicated contact who will learn your business inside-out, as well as advisory services, guidance, and the option of project support.

We pride ourselves on a proactive approach to stopping potential issues before they arise, rather than reactive handling of problems after they’ve already occurred. This allows us to minimise the loss of business continuity for you.

With our unique combination of expertise, experience, and innovative automation technology, your cloud support will become easier than you ever thought possible.

With CAMS providing industry-leading support capabilities behind the scenes, you’ll have total confidence that your cloud infrastructure is always operating at the optimum level.

This gives you absolute peace of mind, meaning you can stop worrying about your IT systems and focus entirely on doing your job or running your business.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of options available when it comes to AWS support, meaning you can find a service to suit your size and budget.

But with something as mission-critical as cloud technology, it’s important to find the right solution to meet your specific requirements.

The impersonal support available from Amazon and its larger partners will leave you vulnerable, while the smaller partners will come with limitations Leveraging our sophisticated automation technology and industry-leading expertise, igroup can provide the ideal option for comprehensive, reliable AWS support.

Find out about our cloud management services

For AWS these include managed services with cost management as well as hosting services

For Azure these include managed services with cost management as well as hosting services

igroup is Here to Help

Here at igroup, we’ve been helping businesses like yours gain full confidence in their cloud infrastructure for more than 10 years. 

In that time, we’ve built a proven track record of providing guidance and support for the most challenging aspects of cloud management and security. We provide a cloud management service for both AWS and Azure which is underpinned by our CAMS software and can be on your existing cloud deployment or ours. 

This means that by working with us, you can finally hand over the burden of securing your cloud infrastructure into a pair of reliable, trustworthy hands, and return your full focus back to running your business.

If you need help with any of the cloud support issues explored here, and would like some additional guidance, please get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to talk through your needs.

Or, click here to learn more about how a cloud management solution could have a transformational impact on your IT infrastructure.

CAMS is designed specifically to give you full transparency, control, and support, for your cloud infrastructure. Get in touch with a member of our team to learn more, and we’d be happy to help!

 Steve Rastall

Steve Rastall - Managing Director 

Get in touch: Steve.Rastall@igroupltd.co.uk

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/steverastall

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