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Cloud providers accused of ripping off users over support costs

Users are concerned that they are being forced to pay too much to cloud providers for support that they consider to be a basic part of the package

One of the challenges for the channel has always been around pricing up support properly, with some giving too much away for very little and others appearing to be too expensive.

Anecdotes about engineers handing out some advice to a customer about how they should be developing their infrastructure as they fit something and talk over their shoulder is at one end of the spectrum. But there are also problems with users feeling that they have been charged too much for what they consider to be basic support.

This is appearing as a problem with a large number of customers complaining that they have been 'ripped off' by their supplier, according to a survey of the market from ElasticHosts and the consequences for some has been to sacrifice support by moving to a hosted environment.

Around a third of the CIOs surveyed claimed that they had sacridiced the majority or all of their support by taking the decision to move to the cloud.

The problem is not just one about money but there are also high user expectations that using a cloud service should reduce the burden on their own IT staff. A high number of customers feel that the provider they have chosen could go further to reduce their own in-house support challenge.

What appears to be happening is that as a user raises doubts about the level of support that is being offered by the cloud provider they are then given the choice to spend a bit more to get an improved service. Of those CIOs quizzed by ElasticHosts 80% felt that this was a rip-off and they were being charged a premium for what they considered to be basic support.

“Many companies adopt cloud so they can take away the headaches related to managing their IT and reduce the burden on in-house IT staff. Therefore, the need for ongoing support and services will naturally be reduced, as it is outsourced,” said Richard Davies, CEO of ElasticHosts.

“Yet when using any service, you want to be able to ask questions – whether that’s to learn how to configure a server, or to query a bill –you should be able to do this without having to pay a hefty premium," he added.

Drilling down into the detail of exactly where the irritation occurred with the support that came from service providers there were moans about the slow response times to queries, some call handlers displaying a lack of technical knowledge and a lack of 24/7 availability.

“With many providers, if you have a technical question, you call up and after a very long wait are then forced to go through a long winded automated service – meaning you will quickly be in a bad mood. If you are then transferred to call handlers that don’t have the required technical knowledge to help resolve your query, and haven’t heard of your company before, your blood will begin to boil," said Davies.

“The industry should be doing more to help customers. Users are right to expect expert support included as standard with their cloud services. The first person that they contact for support should be an engineer with strong technical understanding of the service, not just a call handler," he added.

The Cloud Industry Forum has consistently told its membership that it needs to be transparent about costs and encouraged providers to make sure they tell customers just what they can deliver from the outset.

With the ElasticHosts research showing that 93% of firms now have some form of cloud service the goalposts might have moved from being transparent about just the benefits of the technology to discussing more the way it is supported.

The need to establish a clear cost structure also benefits the cloud provider because they need to ascertain what their monthly recurring revenues from their client base will be in order to plan financially for the future.

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