One of the biggest criticisms leveled against Cloud Computing, in general, and SaaS, in particular, is the reliance on third party for the availability of applications. It is true that SaaS forces you to rely on the third party vendors because the resources lie on the datacenters elsewhere as opposed to your local machine or on-premise datacenters. But, I do not agree that SaaS cannot be trusted just because we have our applications and data elsewhere. In my opinion, it is pure FUD than anything else.
Our reliance of third party providers dates long back into the human history. Even in the traditional computing world, we have to rely on many third party vendors from electricity to run the business to proper functioning of computing resources to operating system to software. Even though they are located on premise, there is some sort of reliance on third party vendors and service providers. When we buy a software from a traditional vendor, we trust them to work the way we want (unless it is open source), we trust the vendors to make timely security patches and updates, we rely on the update to work flawlessly, etc.. Once upon a time we relied on the vendors to send the updates and patches through media. We trusted that the vendors will send in time, the carriers will deliver it properly and the media will work flawlessly. Once internet became part of our lives, we trusted the vendors to send the patches and updates through the internet so that our software are updated regularly. In short, we have been relying on third party for many of our computing tasks forever. As the vehicle of delivery changes and matures, we rely more and more on such third party providers to save time and cost. Now, with the maturation of internet and internet capable devices of many form factors, we are trusting third party providers to deliver the applications and other computing services through the internet for consumption. This is a normal progression in any technological evolution. Trying to spin it in any other way is pure FUD.
I hope a recent incident involving a traditional software vendor puts an end to such FUDs. If the traditional form of computing is more reliable, I would love to hear from the FUD promoters about their reaction to what happened in enterprises all over the world after a McAfee security update. Today, McAfee acknowledge the problem through a blog post.
Early Thursday morning (at around 1 AM PT) we published a SuperDAT Remediation Tool to help customers fix affected systems. The tool suppresses the driver causing the false positive by applying an Extra.dat file in folder. It then restores the “svchost.exe” Windows file, the file quarantined as a result of the false detection.
What is McAfee doing to make their customers comfortable? They assured them that they will improve their quality control to prevent such mishaps in the future.
To prevent this from happening again, we are implementing additional QA protocols for any releases that directly impact critical system files. In addition, we plan to add capabilities to our cloud-based Artemis system that will provide an additional level of protection against false positives by leveraging an expansive whitelist of critical system files
Apart from the irony that they are relying on the cloud to stop such mishaps with the traditional software, the important point is that they are asking their customers to trust them and their process. I am not writing this post to diss McAfee or make fun of their misery. I just want to point our once again (hopefully, for a last time) that our reliance on third party providers is nothing new and we rely more and more on them to have huge savings as the vehicle for delivery matures. SaaS (and Cloud Computing) is just part of this evolution and any FUD against them is plain ridiculous.