Working with Elastic Support: Best Practices
As the most common and frequent of activities, here are the best practices related to open support cases with Elastic.
What is a case?
A case can go by many names: ticket, service request, incident, problem, issue, etc. As far as we're concerned, they all mean the same thing. We generally use the term "case" because that's what our support system provider calls them.
A case (or whatever term you prefer to use) can represent many different kinds of situations you'll encounter as a customer:
- You found a bug in one of our products.
- You would like a new feature considered.
- You have a question about how to do something with our products.
- You need to make some changes to your account (e.g., add or remove a user).
- You need to give us a heads up about some maintenance you'll be doing over the weekend that might result in a new case.
All of these situations (and likely some we've missed) are valid case topics.
When should I open a case?
Now that we're on the same page about what a case is, let's talk about when to open one.
Your subscription level matters. Currently, we offer four types of subscriptions: Development, Gold*, Platinum, and Enterprise. Development has a limitation on the type of cases that can be opened - namely, only development-related issues, as opposed to production issues. For reference, please see http://www.elastic.co/subscriptions/ for a full definition of our subscription packages. Please keep the Development caveats in mind as we dive into the details of opening a case below.
Generally speaking, you should open a case for anything important to you. It's just that simple. Cases are the way we communicate with each other a majority of the time, and we want to be well connected with you as a customer to ensure your success as well as our own. If in doubt, open a case to open the discussion.
Here's a handy chart to help you understand what kind of initial response times you should expect per subscription level after you've submitted a case. More on the definition of each level in the next section.
|Subscription||Initial Response Time|
|Enterprise||30 minutes 24x7 (Elastic Cloud)|
1 hour 24x7 (Self‑managed)
|4 hours 24x7||1 business day||-|
|Platinum||1 hour 24x7||4 hours 24x7||1 business day||-|
|Gold||4 business hours||1 business day||2 business days||-|
|Development||-||-||-||2 business days|
|Standard (Elastic Cloud)1||-||-||-||-|
Note: Business hours are defined by your company location in your support contract.
1 See https://www.elastic.co/support/welcome/cloud for more details
2 See https://www.elastic.co/support/welcome/swiftype for more details
What kind of help can I expect?
Depending on the level of investment you've made with Elastic, we offer two kinds of help: break/fix and guided. If your annualized spend on commercial features and Support (please note this is project based and not an account based calculation) is less than $25,000 USD, you will be offered our world-class break/fix support. We will be here to help you when things go wrong, and to offer you general best practices. If your annualized spend on commercial features and Support is above $25,000 USD, you will be provided guided support along with world-class break/fix support. In any case, even more help can be provided via our Consulting team (scheduled, dedicated and onsite assistance), ask your Elastic Sales Representative for information.
Break fix support
Case-based help for issues you are having. While our main goal is to get your deployments healthy if something goes wrong, we will also share best practice articles and other resources such as training to help you on your way. Elastic support will not write code, make changes on your behalf, or be present at your sites.
We will provide detailed fixes for systemic issues causing repeated cases depending on the severity of impact caused and provide root cause analysis on request.
Everything in break fix plus our engineers will provide some education on the technicalities of Elastic where pertinent to the case, take your business context into account, and provide general guidance on more bespoke questions that you may have, such as assessing or optimizing deployments, code examples, supported third-party integrations, migrations, or upgrades.
If we identify something amiss, we may provide some proactive guidance to prevent further issues arising.
How do I open a case?
This is pretty straightforward. When your company’s account was created as part of our order processing, the key contact you identified to your sales representative was authorized as a support contact and received an individual login. This individual is notified via email to register on the Elastic Support Hub (https://support.elastic.co/) the first time you log in, including registering other support contacts at your organization.
The Elastic Support Hub is integrated with Elastic Cloud for authentication. If you have yet to log in to https://cloud.elastic.co you will be redirected to log in to Elastic Cloud in order to access the Elastic Support Hub. You must have a cloud account to access the support hub. Refer to this blog post for more information on this recent change. Once you're logged in, click the support icon in the top right corner (looks like a life preserver, get it?).
Steps to opening a case:
- Log in to your Elastic Cloud account through https://support.elastic.co.
- Search our Knowledge Base for any known issues.
- If nothing matches your issue, click "Submit a Request" from the menu along the top.
- Fill in the resulting form (see "What should I say in my case?" section below for more info).
- Click "Submit."
You will then receive an email from our system letting you know your case was created, and all future conversation can occur through email.
What should I say in my case?
We understand that sometimes problems related to software like ours can be complicated, and it can be difficult (even daunting) to get everything related to the problem into that small text box every support system offers you. However, the more information you can provide us the better we'll be able to grasp what we call The Three S's: Situation, Severity, and Seriousness.
Situation: The more straightforward you can be in your description of what problem you're experiencing, with as many observable symptoms as you can and as many artifacts as you can upload, the better we can determine how similar or dissimilar the problem you're telling us about looks like other problems we've seen. The faster we can make this match, the faster we can resolve your problem. And the faster we fail a match, the faster we can bring the right specialist resources into the discussion - again also making for faster resolution.
Severity: We offer 4 severity levels: Urgent (1), High (2), Normal (3), and Dev Support (4).
Note: Severities 1-3 only apply to production levels of support - Gold, Platinum, and Enterprise.
We have fairly standard definitions for what these mean:
- Urgent: Your production environment is not working or seriously impaired, no workaround is available. Your revenue, security or brand is impacted as a result.
- High: Your environment is functioning but software is impaired and working in a reduced capacity, or an imminent deadline is at risk. Your revenue, security or brand is threatened as a result.
- Normal: This is the default severity level. Something isn't working as expected, or you have a general question about your deployment.
- Development: Specifically designated for non-production cases. Not time sensitive.
Picking the right severity is important, but even more important is giving us a simple clear description of the impact the problem you're reporting is having on you. Impact is different than symptoms, as some symptoms appear very mild in words but, when combined with something else going on in your environment, can be deadly. When setting the severity, take an extra moment in your description to tell us about the impact.
Seriousness: How serious a problem is depends on many factors, but ultimately only you can tell us how the situation and severity combine to affect your business. Sometimes seriousness is non-technical, in that a dashboard used by your executive team is performing poorly, which on the surface might sound like a situation of normal to high severity, but this changes when we learn that dashboard is about to be made public to your customers. Suddenly this is serious, because not only is our reputation on the line with you, your reputation is on the line with your own customers. We like to understand how a problem fits within the bigger context of your business, which helps us prioritize our response beyond just what the situation and severity tells us.
Now that I've opened a case, what happens next?
We have attempted to make working with us as easy as possible, but as with any support organization it's important as a customer to understand a little about what happens behind the scenes to make for the best experience possible. Once you've opened your case, a lot of automation we've built goes to work to make sure we are consistently delivering high-quality support. It goes a little something like this:
- All new cases are assigned directly to Elastic support engineers. The relevant engineer is notified of your case. No more wondering if there are actual humans on the other end worried about your problems — we'll be there.
- We have support engineers in over 22 countries and 30 time zones to ensure that we are ready to help regardless of time of day or location for your critical issues.
- Based on the Three S's (situation, severity, and seriousness), our global team of support engineers, who speak human and code, will engage with you on your case within our committed response times.
The rest is pretty straightforward technical support interaction via the case, phone, or chat depending on which channel of support best suits The Three S's for that case.
How do I follow up on cases?
You have two ways to interact with us on an existing case:
- Login to https://support.elastic.co and see all your cases either waiting on us or waiting on you.
- Respond to the email receipts from our system to update with your response.
There's no wrong way to interact with us. It's completely up to you and your preference.
We've covered opening a case, which is the most common way we communicate with customers. But sometimes you need to actually speak with a human being in real time, especially when the problem you're experiencing is either very complex and/or very time sensitive in nature. Our Development, Gold, Platinum, and Enterprise subscription levels all offer phone as channel of support, so in this section we'll tell you how to use it.
If my subscription level includes phone access, how do I make use of it?
If you have a Development, Gold, Platinum, or Enterprise subscription, you are entitled to phone access. Congratulations! To make use of this entitlement, all you have to do is ask. When opening a case (see previous topic), if a phone conversation is the best way to discuss the problem, let us know some dates/times you are available and we will schedule a call. Unless you tell us otherwise, we schedule the call using our own VoIP tool which allows for voice, video, and screen sharing.
Why can't I just call a number to reach you?
Eventually you will be able to just call us anytime, but at this stage in our company's size and scale we offer a scheduled call back service for phone support.
What about screen sharing?
Yes, we will be happy to take a look at anything that will help us resolve your question faster. The tool we use for phone conferences also allows you to share your screen with us. Just ask.
Making use of the community forums
As any healthy open source project would, Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats, and Logstash have vibrant and helpful communities. We understand you have chosen to become our customer because you want the assurance of high-quality support, single source of truth, and committed response times — and we can't thank you enough! But that doesn't mean our open source communities can't be a useful resource for you.
So, where are these communities?
Such a simple question, but a good one. The best place to start is /community which lists all the best community resources. The most commonly used resources are our community forums on discuss.elastic.co.
Feel free to use these forums as sources of information and for general discussions. Of course, as a customer you do not need to rely on these communities for your critical or confidential support needs, and we strongly recommend against posting any time-sensitive requests here — you have us for that!
* The self-managed Gold Subscription tier is no longer available for new customers; only Elastic Cloud Gold is available. Customers with existing self-managed Gold Subscriptions will continue to be supported through the end of its current subscription term.