Linux Support Services Cost Guide
This Linux support services cost and pricing guide is designed to help you develop an initial budget as well as understand the basis upon which the costs are determined.
For a more comprehensive guide to outsourcing your Linux infrastructure maintenance, read our free eBook, “Seven questions to ask when choosing a Linux support company”.
Linux Support Services Cost: Some Points To Consider
There are three points to consider when researching the cost of Linux support services:
- the initial cost of getting your servers on board with the support company
- the ongoing costs (monthly or annual)
- the lock-in period (how easy it is to leave)
First, let’s take a look at the initial costs of getting your servers, etc, into the support company’s systems. Then we’ll take a look at the ongoing costs, including any penalties if you decide to terminate the agreement, and finally we’ll look at the factors that affect cost to the support company of providing those services.
There will usually be some kind of inspection of the systems before support can start.
At Tiger Computing, we take all existing servers for a new client through a formal “server onboarding” process. What does that involve?
Each server undergoes a series of checks (around 30 in total) to determine how this server can best be supported.
There are four possible results:
- The server can be supported immediately at any of our support levels
- The server can be supported immediately at some of our support levels
- The server can be supported, but requires some remedial work first
- The server cannot be supported in its current form
The output of this process is a written report for you that is not dissimilar to a car MoT check. It includes:
- a list of checks carried out, and the result of each
- the support levels available for this server
- details of any mandatory work that must be completed before the server can be supported
- details of any recommendations our consultant may have
Mandatory Remedial Work
By far the most common result of the pre-contract check is that a small amount of remedial work is required. This is generally straightforward, and often means ensuring that all security updates are installed and that the configuration of the server is appropriate for support.
This is like an MoT failure because of a cracked number plate: it needs to be fixed before the car can pass, but it isn’t a major problem.
During the pre-contract check process, our consultant may become aware of suboptimal configuration or security issues that do not prevent us from offering a support contract, but which you should be aware of.
This is like the MoT report that the front offside tyre has 3mm of tread remaining: not a reason to fail, but something that you might want to look at soon.
The cost of the pre-contract check is £300 per server. That does not include any mandatory remedial work required, but we’ll often resolve quick, minor issues (with your consent) free of charge as a gesture of goodwill. For more involved remedial work, we’ll let you have a quote before going ahead.
There are usually multiple levels of support available, and it’s often possible to have different servers at different support levels. For example, you may want you test servers supported 08:00-18:00 Monday to Friday, but your production servers supported 24/7.
There are a number of factors that may determine the cost of support, including:
- Hours of cover. You’d reasonably expect 24/7 support to be more expensive than 9-5, Monday to Friday.
- The Service Level Agreement. What is the response time at various times of day or night?
- Whether the support company’s standard Terms and Conditions are used. Custom terms may increase the cost.
- Server complexity: a simple web server will cost less to support than a Highly Available Cluster with shared data replicated in real time.
- Number of servers: the cost will increase with the number of servers.
- What’s included: some support contracts include operating system upgrades, provision of new services (eg, create a new website for a web hosting business), installation of software, removal of users and so on. Other providers may charge extra for some or all of those activities.
- Lock-in: ho w much notice do you need to give? Can you only leave on the anniversary of the contract? At Tiger Computing, we don’t like lock-ins. We want our clients to stay with us because they want to, not because of some contractual obligation. Typically, our clients can terminate their agreement with us with 30 days’ notice.
The details of the support services we offer are on our Server Support Packages page.
Expect to pay around £180 – £400 per server, per month.
The Cost Of Service Provision
To a large extent, you may not care how much it costs your support company to provide you with support services. Here at Tiger Computing we like to be transparent in our pricing and costs, so let’s look at our cost base.
It will be no surprise that our biggest cost by far is the cost of employing our staff. Good Linux consultants are hard to find, so we need to ensure that we both attract and retain the very best. That’s not cheap. Here’s where some of our costs are incurred:
- UK based staff: we do not employ staff based overseas. Yes, it would be cheaper to employ staff located in India or the Philippines or Croatia, but we feel the quality of the service would be adversely affected.
- Qualified staff: with the exception of our Junior Consultants, all of our technical staff hold industry-recognised technical qualifications. We have multiple Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) staff, multiple Debian Developers and some of our staff hold Linux Professional Institute (LPI) qualifications.
- Experienced staff: our senior staff in particular have experience working with a wide range of clients across a broad industry spectrum. They’re equally at home discussing the challenges faced by semiconductor chip development, bioscience research, database tuning or optimal web configuration – and much more.
- Great offices: it matters. We all spend enough time at work to want to be somewhere nice. We’re situated in the Wye Valley next to the Forest of Dean, with the river Wye and the rolling Welsh and English countryside as the backdrop. We provide our staff with real coffee, soft drinks and even occasional cakes, all for free. We give them their choice of keyboard, monitor and mouse – why wouldn’t we? They’re technically excellent, so we give them what they want.
- Training: our staff regularly attend accredited training courses to keep their skills up to date. In addition to that, we allocate Continuous Professional Development (CPD) time to staff.
- Conferences: we send all our senior technical staff to at least one technical conference a year, often more. They’ll either be attendees or, often, they’ll be presenting.
- Support FOSS: we support Free and Open Source Software. That’s the foundation that our business and, to some extent at least, that of our clients is built upon, and it’s what we believe in. Our staff have time to contribute to various FOSS projects.
- BS7858 and ISO27001: we take security seriously. All of our staff are security screened under BS7858, and Tiger Computing is certified under ISO27001, the information security standard. All of our staff regularly receive security training, and our security policies and processes are externally audited every year.
Our second biggest expense after staff is the infrastructure we use to support our clients. We use what we sell: all of our servers run Linux, mostly Debian, and they are supported in the same way as we support our clients’ systems.
The key components are our:
- Configuration Management System
- System Monitoring Platform
- Documentation Management System
- Version Control and Change Management System
- Problem ticketing system
We host many of our own systems in the Cloud, mostly on Amazon Web Services (AWS). We run an extensive Kubernetes cluster and we use a sophisticated CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment) pipeline to roll out updates in a consistent manner.
We’re constantly evolving our infrastructure, and all of the above are incrementally improved on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.
So there you have it. Linux Support Services pricing in a nutshell, and some peeping under the covers to see where the money goes. Questions? Just get in touch!