• Jim Finnerty

Aw Snap! A cautionary tale of vendor reliance

What would happen to a business if its data vendors suddenly cut off their services? What if those services were critical to the delivery on promises made to customers, board members or investors? And what if, in the process of losing those vendor services, the business might also lose all the data and IP stored with that vendor?

This nightmarish scenario was the reality faced by the administrator of a large production project (later picked up by Business Insider and with much discussion on HackerNews and Reddit) on Google Cloud (GCP) and provides an example of one vendor risk that warrants close consideration when dealing with business critical services. In summary, this GCP client had their project shut down without warning due to “potential suspicious activity” on their account. The downtime disrupted critical services relied upon by several departments with the implication that several millions of dollars of customer business were put at risk.

Fortunately, the customer was able to fully restore services but during the downtime faced limited support, enormous uncertainty, and even a threat that her project would be deleted if she did not take certain steps to rectify the “offense” in three business days.

To its credit, Google has a duty to protect its clients from potentially fraudulent activity and it was in service to that responsibility that this users account was disabled. However, pulling the plug on paying customers without warning does damage to the trust they need to engender for healthy customer relationships and this much, they seem to have acknowledged. Regardless, the tale demonstrates the risk of vendor reliance and for cloud services specifically, it underscores the value of vendor diversification or multi-cloud architecture.

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