By Lilac Schoenbeck, VP of Product Marketing and Product Management at iland

With vast numbers of companies currently migrating to cloud, we are on the edge of a brand new age of IT that allows for greater agility, value and speed with minimal disruption to business. However, the change hasn’t come about without its fair share of problems. As highlighted in the recent global survey we commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct, support is still a hurdle that many cloud providers need to get right for their customers.

Support is always a sure-fire hit when asking questions about technology. Rarely is support an area where customers feel comfortable, perhaps because our industry is remarkably bad at support (or perhaps, overly cost-conscious?), or perhaps because any frustration with the product manifests as a support issue. But, while it feels like asking about support is like shooting fish in a barrel, the survey did deliver some fine insights – and one troubling one.

The survey polled 275 IT executives and decision makers that had significant experience as cloud customers. Perhaps not surprisingly, 50% of respondents were unsatisfied with support and on-boarding. And, one in five had EACH of the following problems – which meant many had multiple problems:

• On-boarding took too long (26%)
• On-boarding lacked a human aspect (21%)
• Lack of expertise of the support personnel (20%)
• Disappointment with time to resolution (22%)
• Lingering support issues (19%)
• Support costs higher than expected (18%)

But the kicker was this – 60% of respondents felt that support was a barrier to growing their cloud footprint. Now this isn’t shocking – but let’s pick apart what it means. Typically, astute customers don’t need support to keep spinning up boring VMs, over and over. They need support to do something new or interesting or innovative. Pulling back from cloud – and the flexibility and power it provides – is stifling innovation.

If that’s the sort of growth that’s being inhibited, we’re all in big trouble.

Forrester put a lot of good suggestions in the survey – which I encourage you to read – but a primary one is this: Test drive support alongside your cloud proof of concept. Why not call the support line, and see how those guys respond to your questions? Can you even access a support line? Does someone respond quickly? Can you partner with that person for the next year of cloud deployments?

The quality of the cloud vendor’s support is knowable and testable. Before you choose a cloud provider, make sure you can easily access their technical experts to help quickly address any questions or issues. And read the fine print to make sure you won’t incur significant additional fees when you contact support.

The findings and recommendations are published in the Forrester Consulting study, “Is Your Cloud Provider Keeping Secrets? Demand Data Transparency, Compliance Expertise, and Human Support From Your Global Cloud Providers.” It can be accessed here.