Note: Information accurate as of December 2023 and subject to change
When an issue with your cloud infrastructure occurs, a timely response from your cloud service provider can make or break the success of your business operations. If you use or are considering Amazon Web Services (AWS) as your cloud provider, understanding AWS support response time is critical to ensure you receive the assistance you need, when you need it. In this article, we’ll walk you through the different AWS support plans and how they affect support response times, as well as the roles of Technical Account Managers (TAMs) and other support personnel in providing timely assistance. We’ll also show you how DigitalOcean support plans compare to AWS support so you can make an informed decision regarding your cloud infrastructure provider.
“We tried reaching out to AWS’ support for some issues with reliability and they said we didn’t pay enough even to just submit a ticket, which was very frustrating. It was refreshing when we went to DigitalOcean and someone proactively reached out to us. We were able to get our basic questions answered very quickly, and DigitalOcean’s resources have been very helpful.” - Kenneth Kinion, Managing Director, Validin
AWS offers one free support plan (Basic) and four paid support plans:
Each plan has a different level of support and response time, which can greatly impact your operations, especially for enterprise support customers. Costs also vary for each AWS support plan, and are not flat rates but instead are based on your total cloud bill.
The Basic Plan is free but does not include access to support associates beyond billing/account issues.
The Developer Plan costs the greater of $29/month or 3% of your cloud bill.
The Business Plan is $100/month or 10% of your first $10,000, 7% of the spend from $10,000 to $80,000, and a lower amount of the remainder of your bill.
The Enterprise On-Ramp Tier starts at $5,500 or 10% of your cloud bill (whichever is higher)
The Enterprise Support Tier costs a minimum of $15,000 per month, or a higher amount based on your cloud spend.
These high costs can be frustrating to small businesses who are looking for support from their cloud provider. DigitalOcean offers support to all customers for free, and faster response times and dedicated technical support for Premium Support, which costs $999/month.
Below we will unpack the specifics of each support plan and their impact on your AWS support response time. All prices are accurate as of December 2023 and may change in the future.
The Basic Support plan includes:
Account-related and billing support
Access to documentation and whitepapers
Limited access to customer service, AWS Trusted Advisor, and AWS Health checks
Critically, the free Basic Support Plan does not include troubleshooting help outside account and billing questions, so AWS users need to pay for a higher tier of support to get technical account support. This plan includes some access to AWS Trusted Advisor, a service that assesses your AWS accounts and provides suggestions to help you follow AWS best practices. AWS Health also gives users a real-time view of the performance and availability of AWS services, enabling them to monitor and track reported service events.
However, If your AWS resources go down while on the Basic support plan, you won’t be able to report an issue to a cloud support associate with this plan.
The Developer Support Plan is tailored for those testing in AWS and is not recommended for production workloads. It provides:
Business-hours access to AWS Cloud Support Engineers over the phone and chat.
General architectural guidance
AWS support aims to respond within 24 hours for general guidance and 12 hours for system impaired issues, but says only that they “make every reasonable effort to respond to your initial request within the corresponding timelines.” This plan costs at least $29 or 3% of the monthly AWS charges per month.
The Business Support Plan is meant for organizations running production workloads, offering:
24/7 support via email, chat, and phone
Expedited response times
Additional features such as use-case based architectural reviews
This plan provides 24/7 access to customer service, technical support, and some architectural guidance. According to AWS’ website, general guidance is answered in less than 24 hours, system impaired issues in less than 12 hours, production system impaired issues in 4 hours, and production system down issues in less than an hour.
The Business Support Plan costs $100/month or 10% of your monthly charges for the first $10,000 in spend plus an additional lower percent of your incremental cloud spend.
The business Enterprise On-Ramp plan is one level below the highest tier and gives similar benefits, including:
Limited consultative architectural reviews
One standard engagement of AWS Countdown each year
A pool of Technical Account Managers
This plan starts at $5,500/month, and advertised response times are less than 24 hours for general guidance, 12 hours for system impaired, 4 hours for production system impaired, 1 hour for production system down, and 30 minutes for business-critical systems down.
The Enterprise Support Plan costs at least $15,000 per month is designed for large-scale enterprises and offers the following features:
Fastest response times
Dedicated Technical Account Manager
24/7 technical support
Access to AWS Trusted Advisor
Access to AWS Incident Detection and Response for an additional fee.
A Designated Technical Account Manager (TAM) provides personalized service and expertise for your organization, helping to increase operational efficiency. The plan also offers:
Monthly service reports
Access to phone and email escalation support
Response times for the Enterprise support plan are less than 24 hours for general guidance, 12 hours for system impaired, 4 hours for production system impaired, 1 hour for production system down, and less than 15 minutes for a Business/Mission-critical system being down.
Amazon Web Services offers various contact methods for support through their support center, including:
Email support on weekdays for developer-tier customers
24/7 email support for higher-tier customers
Business and Enterprise Support Plan AWS customers have access to real-time chat support, and immediate phone support is available for critical issues.
Technical Account Managers (TAMs) significantly contribute to efficient support response times and offer proactive guidance. They collaborate with customers to understand their requirements and provide tailored support, helping to expedite issue resolution and minimize overall response time. AWS offers a technical account manager only for the higher levels of support that start at (Enterprise On Ramp and Enterprise).
In contrast, DigitalOcean provides technical staff to both Standard ($99/month) and Premium ($999/month) support tiers, while the Premium Support tier provides customers with a dedicated team of both business and technical advisors.
For those who do not have AWS’ more expensive support tiers, issues are handled by cloud support associates, who may not have as much technical background on cloud infrastructure setups as a technical account manager.
A designated Technical Account Manager (TAM) serves as your dedicated technical point of contact, offering advocacy, strategic technical guidance, and building and maintaining relationships with customers. They assist customers in planning and building solutions using best practices, proactively addressing issues, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
AWS Dedicated Technical Account Managers communicate with AWS Enterprise Support Plan customers through a variety of channels, including email, telephone calls, and virtual meetings.
A Technical Account Manager is able to offer best practices, new feature recommendations, and performance improvement suggestions to optimize your AWS usage. They provide expertise and tailored recommendations to ensure successful adoption and implementation of new features.
TAMs also help you understand the potential benefits and use cases of new features, enabling you to effectively utilize them to achieve desired outcomes. Because of this wide range of benefits, TAMs can be extremely beneficial to small and large organizations alike, however, the high cost of AWS Support Plans means TAMs are only offered to those willing to pay $5,500 or more in AWS support fees each month for the ramp or enterprise support plans.
DigitalOcean offers Premium Support customers with a dedicated team of Technical Account Managers for just $999/month and a Slack channel so that contacting support is fast and simple. Here’s what DigitalOcean customer Lugmety had to say about their support experience:
“The Slack support channel is a great way of communicating with DigitalOcean. With some larger companies, the support is terrible—I’ve had nine calls with one representative and spent hours getting nowhere. With DigitalOcean, you understand the infrastructure, and when I ask something I’m given an answer right away.” - Ashleigh Watson, CTO, Lugmety
While we’ve outlined AWS’ published support times above, some customers have reported waiting longer than the anticipated wait time to hear back on tickets. Reports on sites such as Reddit mention wait times of several days even for those paying for AWS support. AWS does not offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for support responses, so customers are not entitled to compensation for longer support wait times.
While AWS aims to respond to questions in a timely manner, AWS customers may be left waiting for a response from AWS support, especially if they are on the lower tier plans. Small-to-midsize businesses often cannot afford the Enterprise level support tiers, and may find that AWS does not prioritize their requests. DigitalOcean is a cloud infrastructure provider tailored specifically to the needs of SMBs, and offers free support for all customers, and dedicated technical support representatives for a fraction of the cost of AWS support offerings.
Here’s what DigitalOcean customer Kea said about DigitalOcean’s support team:
“The support team is incredible - every time we would have an issue we’d send out a request and somebody really pleasant and nice would get back to you quickly and give you exactly what you need. I’m very pleased with the level and quality of service we get.” Patrick Wingo, Head of Product, Kea
Choose DigitalOcean for SMB-tailored support
If you’re concerned that AWS support response times could be detrimental to your business, consider a cloud that prioritizes small businesses. DigitalOcean’s products and services cater to the unique needs of businesses that are growing rapidly, who often have small teams and cannot afford AWS’ high support costs. DigitalOcean offers excellent support to all customers, and excels at its SMB-friendly Premium Support tier, which provides customers with both technical guidance and business support, Slack communication, architecture reviews, and much more.
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