Cloud Computing: Could Customer Service Be Its Waterloo?

Includes: AMZN, GOOG
by: Jeffrey M. Kaplan

The recent service outages experienced by Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have raised additional concerns about the reliability of these services in particular, and the concept of 'cloud computing' and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in general.

In my last blog entry, I suggested that the term 'cloud computing' may be gaining widespread acceptance but could also be preventing many mainstream business decision-makers from getting their heads around the idea of utilizing web-based services to meet their corporate needs.

The faceless personas of Amazon and Google's cloud computing services don't help the situation. While traditional telephone support services have left a lot to be desired, they at least give customers a opportunity to seek help from a real person.

Neither Google or Amazon offer this form of customer support for their cloud computing services. Given the modest price for their cloud computing services, it is easy to understand why this form of support doesn't exist. These vendors, and others, may be planning to add fee-based customer support services later based on the level of demand for cloud computing services.

But, by omitting a customer support capability from their offerings at this stage, they are running the risk of driving away customers who don't want to put up with continuing service quality issues. They are also tarnishing the image of the overall cloud computing and SaaS movement, and could disrupt the growth of this market.

It is time for customers to ask questions about the quality of cloud computing and SaaS vendors' customer support capabilities in the same way they have been asking about the reliability, security, customization and integration capabilities of their on-demand services.