Microsoft, Google sweeten cloud freebies

Microsoft extends free support; Google Apps for Work are free for customers of other vendors

 Microsoft, Google sweeten cloud freebies

Microsoft and Google each this week increased incentives offered for joining their cloud platforms, highlighting the aggressive nature of this battle for market share.

It’s not uncommon for cloud computing providers to offer free services. In the IaaS market all the big providers have free service tiers that allow customers to test their products before paying for them. The expanded freebies announced this week by these vendors goes beyond that though.

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Microsoft announced free support upgrades on Tuesday. Any customer who buys Azure Services through an Enterprise Agreement (EA) between May 1 of this year and June 30 of next year will receive a free support upgrade. Customers who do not choose to buy support as part of their EA will get free standard support, which includes unlimited technical assistance for subscription management and break-fix issues. Customers who buy standard support will get a free upgrade to Professional Direct support, a higher level offering that includes faster initial response, escalation of high priority issues, plus monitoring of business critical issues.

At the same time, Google announced an expansion of its offer to give away Google Apps for free to any customer who currently has an EA with another vendor. Google launched the offer last fall to customers with between 250 and 3,000 users. This week, Google extended the offer to any customer between 100 and 3,000 users. Google says that since it launched the offer it has added 200,000 users (not all through the promotion, though).

Both of these offers represent attempts at market share grabs. In one way, it could be seen as a natural extension of their efforts to encourage users to use their platforms. But these specific offerings represent more than that: They’re incentives that only kick in if customers commit to using the platform for an extended period of time, beyond just a trial.

In Microsoft’s case, extending support to all users helps them ensure that customers have a positive experience when using complicated new cloud technology. It could also be an effort to support customers directly instead of users relying on independent consultants to provide help. In Google’s case, the move shows the company’s aggressive push to attract customers of all sizes, big and small. Either way, for end users, if you were considering using one of these platforms, the deal to do so just got even sweeter.

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