I’m a big fan of convenience and I bet you are too. What’s not to love? I think if you’re honest, you’ll agree that the quest for convenience is a determining factor in most of the decisions that we make on a regular basis. Think about it. If you’re hungry but don’t feel like going through the machinations of preparing a meal, there are a wealth of alternatives ready to help pacify your stomach pangs without requiring you to even leave your car. Cutting the lawn a major inconvenience to your weekend golf plans? Do what I did and let your kids cut it for you. Not only does it free me up for 18 whenever I want, but it also spares Mrs. Crosby the inconvenience of wondering where they are. Does anyone disagree that convenience is such an important component of our lives that we are even willing to pay more for it? Sure the station with the cheapest gas is only two miles away, but why put in the extra time behind the wheel when the place on the corner is only a nickel more per gallon? I think you get my point. Unfortunately, as more than a few cloud providers — and their customers — are finding out, the cost of convenience can be a little more than we’d care to pay.
As the good folks at Target found out last Christmas season, customer satisfaction is negatively impacted when the shopper who bought some wrapping paper online from their home in Phoenix, opens their post-holiday statement to find that they also purchased a 50-in. flat screen in Schenectady. Let’s face it, whenever we do anything online like apply for a new driver’s license or buy a book on Amazon we enter into an implicit agreement with the provider of the service: In return for providing me with a convenient method for conducting this transaction, I’ll give you personal information that I don’t even share with my spouse and you agree to protect it from all ill-intentioned parties including that dorky kid down the street and any apparatchik sitting behind a computer screen in Guangdong Province. No one enters into this arrangement believing it to be a Faustian bargain. And therein lies the rub for many of today’s cloud providers.
In a recent study, Juniper Research found that the geometric increase in the digitization of consumer records will increase the cost of data breaches by $2.1 trillion globally by 2019. For those of you playing along at home, that is only slightly less than the Gross Domestic Product of the entire continent of Africa. Obviously, when you’re dealing with a market (no matter how nefarious) measured in terms of the output of a continent a lot of folks are going to look at this as a growth opportunity, and this is the reason that participants in the most recent AFCOM State of the Data Center survey indicated that security was still the most important cloud related issue.
Naturally, theories on how best to protect your cloud infrastructure from undesired infiltration abound. I read one article that included “Be proactive!” amongst its recommendations. Personally, I think the “!” may have been a little redundant since, as many former CIO’s have found out, figuring out how you were hacked after it happens is perhaps the fastest path to a career change, but an exclamatory reminder is probably as good advice as any. Unfortunately, I don’t know if a 100% solution to this war on convenience will ever exist. Not that plenty of companies aren’t trying to develop the “silver bullet” solution to ensure that Sergei in Belarus isn’t purchasing that limited edition Hummel collector’s set using your credit card and social security number, but I think this really just ups the convenience ante. After all, when you think about it, isn’t one man’s convenience just another’s inconvenience?
Maybe this cost of convenience question just all boils down to the level of risk that we are willing to tolerate in making our convenience decisions. While few of us may return to the days of paying for everything in cash and keeping our savings in an old coffee can, this may be the price we are willing to pay for the convenience of security. Fortunately, some of us have been blessed with more options than others; so in the future going to Barnes & Noble and submitting forms at the DMV will be showing up on the Crosby children’s list of chores.