amazon web services 61412.pngFaced with growing competition from other cloud providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced Thursday that it will offer expanded free support to its customers, reduce pricing on premium support plans and offer new features for customer support.

With this announcement, AWS is redefining its tiers of support, all of which offer unlimited requests, worldwide availability and no long-term contracts.

Basic, Developer, Business

The expanded free tier, called Basic, is the level all AWS customers automatically receive at signup. Additional features include 24 x 7 customer service via email or phone for billing or account matters, and technical support for issues relating to system performance. Customers also continue to have access to FAQs, a Dashboard showing current system health, Developer Forums and best practices guides.

The Developer tier, previously known as the Bronze tier, is offered at US$ 49 monthly and provides one-to-one support. In addition to all the benefits in the Basic tier, this level provides 12-hour response time to requests for assistance and access to Technical Support Engineers via email during local business hours.

The Business level, formerly the Gold tier, includes the two other tiers, as well as a one-hour response time, 24 x 7 availability by phone, chat or email, and access to the AWS Trusted Advisor, which is software that provides alerts about opportunities to save money or improve system performance, or notifications when security gaps exist.

The Enterprise Tier

Priced at US$ 100 -- down from $400 -- plus usage-based pricing ranging from 3 percent to 10 percent, the Business tier also includes support for the most common third-party software used on AWS.

The top tier, now called Enterprise and previously known as Platinum, provides the Business level plus a 15-minute response time for critical issues, and a dedicated Technical Account Manager, who conducts periodic reviews of the client’s needs. This tier now has a usage-based pricing that ranges from 3 to 10 percent, which differs from the previous flat 10 percent usage fee.

Started in 2006, AWS -- part of’s empire -- provides cloud computing services so that capital infrastructure expenses become variable costs. The company said it offers a scalable, cloud-based infrastructure to hundreds of thousands of enterprise, governmental and startup customers worldwide. Over two dozen services include Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute, Amazon Simple Storage Service and Amazon Relational Database.