Recently it has become vogue for cloud hosting providers to offer an all in one price - that is, a price that includes everything you could want plus the cloud server itself. Companies tend to argue the simpler pricing model is a boon to sales and that it helps customers, but does it really? When you as a customer buy something that is just included in the regular price you pay you can almost always be certain that the included thing is sub-par. I have seen it time after time, customers see they get support included with their cloud server, write up a ticket only to be told “We don’t support that”. Do you know why that isn’t supported? Because you don’t actually have support!

The included support offering with most cloud servers is what you will usually hear referred to as infrastructure support. Infrastructure support means that if company X’s network goes down, you can tell them it is down and they will fix it. Infrastructure support is not “My server crashes, how can I fix it?”. I have found most customers are surprised, and often frustrated by this as they usually learn of it when they need help the most.

Support

So what can you do? Simple: don’t buy cloud servers (or anything really) with support included. Here’s why:

1. Included support is (almost always) sub-par

Included support is one of those feel good add-ons that most companies hope you will not use, a checkbox on a comparison table, a feature that might make you feel better about purchasing the product just in case you ever need it. But what if you do need it? Wouldn’t you rather know for certain that your support provider actually offers support for the things you will need help with? The easy way to do this is to seek out an a la carte support package that breaks down what is offered. All in one providers rarely say what, if anything, is actually supported before purchasing a cloud server but if you purchase support separately the provider will be obligated to provide this information up front.

2. Included support is not free

People often buy into the idea that something that is included is free. This is rarely the case. You’ll often find providers that offer all in one pricing are priced slightly higher than companies that offer no support or support as an added expense. The difference between the all in one price and the a la carte price is the premium you pay for that included support. This is especially troublesome if you are somebody who needs no support at all - you are essentially subsidizing those who need excessive amounts of support. This model isn’t fair for anybody.

3. Companies that offer included support have little obligation to actually solve your non-infrastructure problems

If you have ever found yourself needing support for something that is not infrastructure related you may have gotten the “This is not in our scope of support” message. This is something that providers say when something is a bit too complex to solve using their included support. How is this fair if you have paid for that support? Most companies rationalize it as you are paying for the cloud service directly and support is just something that is offered free, in addition to that cloud service you paid for. The easiest way to get around this is to pay for support directly. This creates an easy to understand and obvious financial obligation for the support provider to actually help you. If they don’t, you can request a refund because you paid for support and you are not receiving it.

Why is included support usually bad?

Support that is included with cloud services tends to be bad because offering good support is very expensive and very challenging. This is a case where you get what you pay for. Fortunately for you as a consumer, many hosting providers are returning to an a la carte model that allows you to make the choice to pay for support or not. While pricing may not be set as a flat fee, a la carte plans can still be very easy to understand. Ultimately, buying what you need (and nothing more) will keep more money in your pocket and will increase the likelihood you’ll end up with great support when you need it.

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