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Google Cloud has introduced a Premium Support option designed to appeal to large enterprises through features such as 15-minute response times for critical issues.
Premium Support customers will be serviced by "context-aware experts who understand your unique application stack, architecture and implementation details," said Atul Nanda, vice president of cloud support.
These experts will coordinate with a customer's assigned technical account manager to resolve issues faster and in a more personalized manner, Nanda said in a blog post.
Google wanted to expand its support offerings beyond what basic plans for Google Cloud and G Suite include, according to Nanda. Other Premium Support features include operational health reviews, training, preview access to new products and more help with third-party technologies.
In contrast, Google's other support options range from a free tier that provides help with only billing issues; Development, which costs $100 per user per month, with a four-hour response time; and Production, which costs $250 per user per month and has a one-hour response time.
Premium Support carries a base annual fee of $150,000 plus 4% of the customer's net spending on Google Cloud Platform and/or G Suite. Google is also working on add-on services for Premium Support, such as expanded technical account manager coverage and mission-critical support, which involves a site reliability engineering consulting engagement. The latter is now in pilot.
Cloud changes the support equation
Customers with on-premises software licenses are used to paying stiff annual maintenance fees, which give them updates, bug fixes and technical support. On-premises maintenance fees can generate profit margins for vendors north of 90%, consuming billions of IT budget dollars that could have been spent on better things, said Duncan Jones, an analyst at Forrester.
Grant KirkwoodCTO, Unitas Global
"But customers of premium support offerings such as Microsoft Unified (fka Premier) Support and SAP MaxAttention express much higher satisfaction levels with value for money," Jones said via email. "They are usually an alternative to similar services that the vendor's SI and channel partners offer, so there is competition that drives up standards. Plus, they are optional extras so price/demand sensitivity keeps pricing at reasonable levels." On the whole, Google's move to add Premium Support is positive for customers, according to Jones.
But it's clear why Google did it from a business perspective, said Grant Kirkwood, CTO of Unitas Global, a hybrid cloud services provider in Los Angeles. "Google is recognizing they need to move up the stack in terms of support to make further inroads into the enterprise space," he said.
Microsoft today probably has the most robust support in terms of a traditional enterprise look-and-feel, while AWS' approach is geared a bit more toward DevOps-centric shops, Kirkwood added.
"[Google is] taking a bit out of both playbooks," he said. Premium Support could appeal to enterprises that have already done easier lift-and-shift projects to the cloud and are now rebuilding or creating new cloud-native applications, according to Kirkwood.
But as with anything, Google will have to prove its Premium Support option is worth the extra money.
"Successful [support] plans require great customer success management, highly trained technical account managers and AI-driven case management," said Ray Wang, founder and CEO of Constellation Research.