In retail marketing, companies often try to add value to a product with the addition of extra items that are discounted or free. In the words of one of the infomercial kings, Ron Popeil, ‘But wait, there’s more!’. While I may have been originally interested in a set of Ginsu knives, the bonus vegetable dicer sealed the deal.
Unfortunately, when the consumer receives the products, they often find that the additional items and services are not quite what they expected them to be. Other phrases such as ‘You get what you pay for’ come to mind. I may have needed the knives, but the dicer sits in a drawer gathering dust because it does not work as well as it did on TV.
Value add is not always valuable
In the technology world, we often use the same tactics. We purchase a service like cloud computing and are excited when they throw in extra functions at a steep discount like load balancing or web application firewall (WAF). The cloud service works as advertised and we are able to put our applications and data in the public infrastructure. The service is advantageous because we are no longer responsible for core infrastructure components like network and server hardware or Internet connectivity.
Meanwhile, the value-added services turn out to not have as much value as initially implied. The load balancing service may only do basic functions like layer 4 load balancing with no content inspection. It may use a round-robin algorithm that is not ideal for all application availability scenarios.
The WAF can do basic HTTP content inspection, but does not have the flexibility and policies to protect against the OWASP top 10 threats. It may have limited capabilities when handling encrypted content. As a security device, the cloud’s built-in WAF is of little use versus the modern types of attacks that malicious hackers are launching today.
One solution, multiple deployments
Companies need to ensure that proper availability and security solutions are applied to the components of their IT infrastructure that are hosted in the cloud. Ideally, they need to be applying similar, if not stronger solutions that they utilize within their private infrastructure.
Businesses benefit when they use robust best-of-breed solutions in their hybrid architecture. They get the quality solution that they expect and require to ensure reliable and secure application delivery. They get a consistent solution that delivers the same capabilities no matter where it is deployed. It doesn’t matter whether in their private infrastructure or the public cloud and they get a solution that has a common management platform offering seamless operational functionality.
It is important for decision makers to make rational decisions based on their requirements. The additional services and functions that are thrown into a sales offering are often there because there is a minimal cost to the vendor, but this also means that there is a minimal benefit to the consumer. As Robert Heinlein stated, ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’*