Frequently Asked Questions

Who benefits from Astra?

Ideal for SaaS startups at the early stages of cloud infrastructure development, Astra offers a straightforward approach for setting up, maintaining, and managing your cloud solutions efficiently. If you're looking for an opinionated, simple solution, Astra is it.

What problem does Astra solve?

Astra solves the problem of operational and technical complexity for early-stage infrastructures. If you've ever read the documentation on Kubernetes and a term like DaemonSet with Node Affinity/Anti-Affinity Rules doesn't sound fun, then Astra is for you.

It does so by not offering yet another cloud solution, but instead taking the best tooling from your chosen cloud and making it trivial to operate.

What's this about support?

Astra works in the same way as any third-party software team (For example: Our approach involves:

  • Setting Up Infrastructure: We personalize the establishment of your infrastructure and provide you with the necessary tools for managing daily tasks.

  • Guidance and Direction: When you need additional assistance related to your infrastructure, we step in to offer direction and support. This can be particularly beneficial for tangential issues that will arise.

  • Ease for Early Developers: The combination of an easy-to-use toolset and readily available support ensures that early-stage developers have one less thing to worry about while taking care of business needs.

  • Preventing Technical Debt: With Astra, you can avoid the scenario of waking up to an overwhelming amount of technical debt in your infrastructure, a common challenge for growing companies.

  • Hive-mind Updates: The technology industry is ever-evolving, meaning infrastructure can become outdated quickly. Whenever we encounter new strategies for building and managing infrastructure or find innovations that save time, we proactively update your setup. This ensures you always benefit from the latest advancements and efficiencies.

How does support work? What happens if something Astra provisions goes down?

Astra's support system is structured to ensure prompt and effective assistance:

  • Primary Communication Channels: Support is primarily provided through Slack, supplemented by video calls as needed. If your company does not use Slack, email is available as an alternative.

  • Response Time: Any questions raised in the Slack channel will typically receive a response within an hour during normal Eastern Time (ET) business hours, 9 AM to 6 PM.

  • Included Consulting Time: Each full engagement with Astra includes 4 hours of contracting/consulting time.

  • Additional Support Costs: If additional support is required beyond the included number of hours, it is billed at the current contracting rate, per hour.

  • Account Provisioning: While not mandatory, it is often beneficial to provide Astra employees with access to your accounts and Terraform repository. This enables us to assist more effectively and to submit automatic pull requests for upgrades.

  • Handling Downtime: In the event of downtime in your infrastructure or product, Astra will provide support during normal business hours. However, Astra does not assume responsibility for incidents. All infrastructure designed by Astra prioritizes reliability, and through our support, we can offer additional solutions if needed.

What is my relationship with Astra vs my Cloud provider?

Astra is a toolkit you use in addition to the tools your cloud provider provides for you. That's the extent of the connection.

Purchasers of Astra will still have to pay their own cloud provider billing and handle interactions with the cloud provider on their own. Astra does not have any control over issues that stem from your cloud provider.

The good news is that the Astra support package includes set aside hours for helping each company with these interactions.

  • Bill too high? Astra support can investigate what can be cheaper, set up billing alerts, and discuss options.
  • Having an issue with your infrastructure only AWS can handle? Astra support will help you contact AWS, explain the issue, and get to a resolution.

How does Astra ensure compliance and security?

Astra is uncompromising when it comes to compliance and security. Our approach is designed to:

  • Facilitate Security Audits: Astra's configurations and processes are tailored to position your infrastructure optimally, making it easier to pass any security audits.

  • Thoughtful Actions: Every action performed by Astra is carefully considered for its impact on the broader security landscape. This ensures that each aspect of your infrastructure contributes positively to overall security and compliance.

  • Proactive Security Measures: We continuously update and refine our practices to align with the latest security standards, ensuring that your infrastructure is not only compliant but also resilient against emerging threats.

What sort of things does Astra set up/give me?

There are two parts to Astra usage.

  1. The bootstrapping step which you can view the included infrastructure here.
  2. Normal usage, which you can refer to the user reference for feature list.

How is Astra priced?

Astra's pricing is strategically set against the cost of hiring a full-time professional to build and support similar infrastructure.

For startups, the expense of employing a full-time, benefitted individual can be significant and time consuming. Additionally, the costs associated with resolving infrastructure technical debt can be even more daunting. Astra offers a cost-effective solution, priced at a fraction of what it would take to hire a full-time employee. This approach not only fits startup budgets, but also provides the feel and benefits of having an in-house expert available to address any issues that may arise.

How Does Billing Work?

Astra's billing process is designed to be straightforward and transparent:

  • Monthly Billing via Stripe: Astra charges are processed monthly through Stripe. Allowing you to pay however you feel comfortable.

  • Additional Support Charges: If your support needs exceed the included hours, additional hours are billed at $200 per hour.

  • Billing Schedule: Your bill for any given month, including additional charges for extra support hours, will be issued on the first day of the following month. This ensures a consistent and timely billing process each month.

  • Flexible Cancellation Policy: You can cancel your Astra subscription at any time. You will only be billed for the actual time the service was used up to the point of cancellation.

How does Astra stand out from the competition?

About more than just money

The field of infrastructure-as-a-service is notably crowded, with many companies prioritizing scale and profit. These companies often offer additional abstraction layers on top of cloud platforms or open-source projects, or in some cases, even build their own cloud services.

What sets Astra apart is our fundamental approach to customer relations and business ethos. Unlike many in the space, Astra is not driven by investor interests or directed by a board of directors. Our primary goal is not to maximize profits, but rather to ensure your complete satisfaction with our service. We are a self-sustained entity, heavily invested in facilitating your ability to seamlessly interface with your infrastructure. This customer-centric approach is what differentiates Astra in a field where others may prioritize financial gain over any single user's experience.

Your Infrastructure easily maintained

Lastly, Astra is about setting up a platform that solely belongs to your business and grows with you. We have worked hard to make sure what you get is what you will use(and therefore want to pay for). We've also made it easy to leave should you want to take your infrastructure in a different direction.

No other product on the market gives the level of flexibility, ownership, and support that Astra does.

Which Cloud Platforms are currently supported?

At present, Astra supports only Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is recognized as one of the most widely used and well-known cloud platforms, making it an ideal initial choice for our services. We are committed to expanding our support to include additional cloud platforms in the future. However, as of now, there is no specific timeline for the integration of other cloud services.

What happens if I don't want to use Astra anymore?

That's great! Astra is designed with the goal that it will eventually be transitioned to a dedicated infrastructure team. Here's how the process works if you decide to stop using Astra:

  1. Cancellation Request: You can easily request cancellation through the included Slack support channel.
  2. Refund Policy: A refund will be issued for the unused portion of the current month's charges.
  3. Ownership of Infrastructure: Any infrastructure set up and configurations created through Astra or through contracting will remain yours indefinitely, with no obligations attached.
  4. CLI Tool Access: The Astra CLI tool will continue to function for a grace period, the duration of which depends on the length of your engagement with Astra. For example, long-term users will receive a longer grace period to transition away from the CLI tool.
  5. Happy infraing!

Why does Astra require an API key?

TL;DR: For enhanced convenience and user experience.

You might wonder why Astra doesn't simply rely on your native cloud's authentication system. The reason is straightforward: Astra is designed to simplify your work. It achieves this not only by automating and applying best practices to complex tasks but also by reducing the cognitive effort required in managing your infrastructure.

However, this simplification process is not without its challenges. Cloud providers' solutions may not always align with what feels 'easy' or 'intuitive' to users. To bridge this gap, Astra enhances these processes and supplements them with additional data. This additional layer of functionality necessitates a secure method to store and access this enriched data.

To address this, we store this enhanced data(Just id numbers and relationships, no PII) in Astra's database. Your CLI then retrieves it securely, and in doing so, necessitates the creation of an API key. This API key is more than just a security measure; it's a gateway to a more streamlined and efficient management of your infrastructure, ensuring that Astra's enhancements are both secure and easily accessible.

What is the cost of the infrastructure Astra creates by default?

By default Astra provisions the bare minimum, in a YAGNI philosophy, that still produces everything you might need when your startup is just starting out.

This means the cost of deploying just one service on Astra cost is in the realm of ~$30 per month. As is the nature of infrastructure that number doesn't scale one to one with services and the cost for the things that Astra creates by default is somewhat fixed.