“Keep turning, keep going…stop! Ugh, you went to far, go back…more…stop! We got it.” I clearly remember these instructions being shouted out the window as I, age 6-14, turned the antenna post for our VHF and UHF viewing pleasure. Our options were NBC and CBS on VHF and if wasn’t raining we could get ABC, FOX and Georgia Public TV on UHF. Sometimes we could get the local affiliates out of both Albany, GA and Tallahassee, FL, at the same time! #winning This was the standard to tune in channels and receive analog content until a local cable TV provider came to the country. It was amazing to change channels between 40 different stations without the fear of lightning strikes or blood thirsty mosquitos. The channels grew over time to cover just about every possible subject and preference imaginable. It did and has become overwhelming and many of us don’t watch the channels we pay for but have to get all the things to get the channels we actually want because the providers only make X channel available under Y package, which is usually the most expensive one, but I digress.
Then the Internet happened.
The Internet has been a blessing and curse in terms of content delivery. I saw it mostly as a blessing because nearly everyone can get access to material that previously would have required traveling to some distant land to meet with a shaman and survive some ritual. However, I along with many of you started to notice a trend a couple of years ago and not sure which disruptor is mostly responsible for it, but I don’t prefer it, at all. We pay a lot for cable to access hundreds of channels of content, then we buy streaming video on demand (SVOD) services for content only they provide, which is not available on cable. Here is where I’ve had enough. The content creators now require me to buy a subscription to their streaming content, which I was paying for access to on cable at a high premium, which is now only available if I pay $50 a year to access it remotely. Furthermore, the cable provider’s mobile app has removed access to all channels that have a paid SVOD service, so now I have to pay twice to watch the same content which is really paying for convenience on the go, which results in a horrible customer experience. Ok, I’m done with that personal rant and appreciate your indulgence. I’ll attempt to relate this to security.
It occurred to me the security solutions and services industry can be very similar to streaming and cable TV services in their approach to deliver services and product to organizations. Buyers can get a security analytics solution, but if you want content updates you have to buy a special subscription. You can buy a SaaS security platform, but if you want to use API’s you have to pay for each integration or pull. Organizations needing endpoint protection get conventional anti-virus protection, but have to pay more for EDR functionality for harder to detect TTPs and deliver isolation functionality for protection. Look, I get it that businesses need to make a profit. Everyone in business should understand that. I also understand creating content (use cases, threat intel, algorithms, etc.) and solutions (appliances, platforms, agents, etc.) is not cheap nor easy to stay relevant in the evolving threat landscape. However, I question if the current pricing and tier schemes is the right approach to help clients predict, prevent, detect and respond efficiently.
Pricing models for security products and services is dizzying for buyers, and the scoping parameters leave much to be desired. For example, volume per day or events per second. Tell me what company actually knows this number within 5% of reality? Oh, and it has to be on sliding scale to account for things like M&A, seasonality (retail) or something like, oh I don’t know, a pandemic that forces everyone to go remote. These type of challenges are why entity and user based pricing models are more popular, mainly because of one factor which is predictability. I think there is a better way forward here that benefits the client and the vendor, just not sure what it is. It has to be better than turning a metal antenna in a thunderstorm or paying for the same content on your phone that you already paid for on your TV.
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