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AWS support earns enterprise praise, with caveats

Enterprises expect a level of technical support that AWS hadn't delivered until recently. Now, companies rate Amazon's cloud support highly – though there's room to improve.

LAS VEGAS – Amazon Web Services is attracting a new breed of customer with improved enterprise support, but it will take more time before large companies go "all-in" with cloud.

For one healthcare software maker in the Southeast, Amazon Web Services (AWS) support has been key to develop its software without having to expand its IT staff.

"We've had good experiences with support," said Eric Johnson, DevOps engineer for the company, which he asked not be named. AWS’ support allows Johnson’s company to do things quicker, he said.

Despite Rackspace's reputation for "Fanatical Support," Johnson's company is actually migrating servers from that cloud into AWS, to take advantage of AWS features like the automated replication that comes with the Relational Database Service.  

Meanwhile, a household name sporting goods company based on the West Coast also found AWS support helpful as it "dips a toe" into cloud computing, according to its senior director of infrastructure architecture, who requested anonymity.

"They're very good about email and conference calls," the director said. "It's not a person in a seat next to one of my guys, but we're happy campers at the moment."

Such comments indicate AWS support has come a long way from the early days of the company, according to Carl Brooks, analyst with 451 Research in Boston.

"The first time I used AWS, there wasn't a phone number on their website," Brooks said. "Three years later they added 9 to 5 support, and now they're offering full service enterprise support and getting unsolicited praise from customers."

AWS remains a relatively small company compared to the likes of mega tech companies like HP or IBM, but it still services one million customers, according to a business update by Andy Jassy, senior vice president of AWS, during a keynote presentation here at the company's re:Invent conference this week. The company added thousands of employees in the second quarter of this year alone, according to earnings reports, which may have better prepared it to take on the increased demands of enterprise support.

"People and culture are much less of a problem than they were before," Jassy said in a press Q&A session at the conference.

Most technical account managers meet by phone with their clients on at least a weekly basis, Jassy said.

That’s not to say there isn't room for improvement.

One CTO for an ecommerce site based on the East Coast encountered a problem with the AWS Import / Export tool earlier this year, in which a bug caused virtual machines to shut down after import. When AWS support was brought in, they said it was a known bug.

"It would've been nice to have some warning," the CTO said.

Johnson also said he wants to see continued improvement in AWS support.

"The more readily available they can make it, the better," he said.

First timers flock to re:Invent

Enterprises have taken notice of AWS's increased attention to customers, and a large number of first-time attendees -- many from blue-chip name companies – were at re:Invent to investigate and experiment with AWS.

However, even some of the companies Amazon brought out on stage as poster children for cloud as "the new normal" remain in the early stages of moving to the cloud.

Johnson & Johnson, for example, has moved 129 application workloads to AWS, but it has three times that number waiting in the wings, which will take another year to migrate, according to a presentation by its CTO, Dan Zelem.

The director of infrastructure for the West Coast sporting goods company also sounded a note of caution when talking about plans to move to AWS.

"I'd like to be leading edge, but I'm not bleeding edge," the director said. "We want to make sure we know how to do things better, without making the mistakes others have."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.


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