Fighting Fires with Hand Grenades

A few weeks ago I was riding on the fire truck heading to a report of a basement fire. As we listened to updates coming across the truck’s radio, the mood of the firefighters was quiet, tense, nervousness. Basement fires are extremely dangerous. There’s usually no ventilation, which means the heat and smoke will build up rapidly creating an extremely hot, zero visibility environment.  On top of that, added complications include items such as  a single wooden staircase as the only way in, or, more importantly, out of the basement, a cluttered disorganized floor plan, gas lines for the dryer, hot water heater and furnace and exposed and unprotected supports for the upper floor. Needless to say, aggressively attacking basement fires can be extremely risky.

Halfway to the scene, an update came across the radio from the Chief who just arrived on-site, he reported “thick black smoke billowing out the front door” … (don’t worry, the smoke reference isn’t my  linkage into cloud services).  Anyway, billowing black smoke isn’t  good, the force pushing that smoke could mean the fire is growing extremely quickly, and in a few minutes this house might be a total loss.  Even a tiny fire can easily escalate into a huge, uncontrolled inferno in just two minutes:

The key issue at this early stage in this event is to quickly recognize and manage the risk in this new, evolving environment (now you can see where I’m going).


As customers consider the adoption of Cloud Services, they’re also evaluating the risks associated with that environment and determining their next steps.  One of the biggest concerns / risks we hear is associated with data security and placing sensitive information into the cloud. Especially important for enterprise customers is the question of what new technology can I deploy to extinguish those security risks before starting a Cloud migration?

This is where I see the sweet spot for “Virtual Private Cloud”  solutions.  A Virtual Private Cloud design doesn’t rely on Internet connectivity.  It’s designed to be a security enhanced, logical extension of a customer’s existing virtual private MPLS network.  All the security risks associated with Internet don’t apply.  For example, Internet based DDOS attacks can’t disrupt service in a virtual private cloud environment.

The bottom line is that all of us are constantly evaluating the risks and rewards associated with the deployment of new technology solutions.  The more we can minimize the risk by leveraging design options like “Virtual Private Cloud”, the easier it becomes to realize the rewards.

As for the basement fire, the Chief quickly recognized the extreme risks and decided to utilize new technology to minimize those risks. That new technology was a fire hand grenade, called a FIT-5.  He pulled the pin and tossed the FIT-5 into the burning basement.  It ignited ten seconds later and released a powder throughout the area which extinguished most of the flames.  His decision transformed a highly risky environment into an almost business-as-usual situation.

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Lesson Learned – Experience is the ability to quickly recognize the risks associated with a new, evolving environment and leverage the latest technology available to minimize those risks.  A Virtual Private Cloud architecture is an example of technology specifically designed to help minimize cloud services adoption risks.

Are you using a Virtual Private Network?  What advantages have you realized from that?  Have you seen any disadvantages?  What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating a VPN of their own?  Your comments and thoughts will be most appreciated by your fellow professionals.
Tim Halpin Adoption and Utilization Cloud Services Director AT&T About Tim