As you buy services to get your message out, know the questions you need to ask your providers
It’s a typical Tuesday and I’m sprinting between meetings when I receive a phone call—the dreaded phone call—that goes something like this, “Hi Kristi, as your account manager I wanted to let you know we are taking your content hub down as it appears you are under a DDoS attack.” My response went a little something like this, “Say what?! What do you mean DDoS? Why? Who? How? DOWN!?! Our content hub cannot go down… Good grief, we are an Internet Performance company, not an option!”
Lucky for us at Dyn, we have a top-notch 24/7 NOC team who calmly sprang into action. Let me repeat: calmly. This was very reassuring given my panicked state. Their cat-like reaction was to figure out how to get our content hub back up and running rather than figure out the what, who, and why. That would be an investigation for later.
Our NOC team jumped on a call with the technical team that hosts our content hub. The technical phone interlude was fascinating to listen to. Even more fascinating was how much I was able to understand. Don’t get me wrong, most of the conversation was over my head; however, I was able to weed out what I needed to know, without someone turning to me to say, “let me interpret”. The conclusion… it was an attack at the application layer, not an attack on our network. Sure, the attackers were targeting us, but not on our territory, rather on a 3rd party subdomain where our content is hosted.
Contrary to what this blog’s title alludes, I am not a technical marketer. Yes, I am one of many on the Dyn Marketing team who markets technical services, but do not confuse that with technical prowess. You will not see me spinning up a Drupal website that will be hosted on multiple CDNs so my content is pushed to “the edge” (what is the edge, anyway? Edge of what? Edge of the universe?) using global cloud load balancing to distribute my traffic. Hell, I could not have even written a sentence like this a few years ago. However, what I have learned marketing technical services is know enough to ask basic technical questions of your marketing service providers.
In this digital age, we as marketers rely on a whole suite of cloud-based tools and services to do our job. From your website hosting provider, to the platforms that hosts your content including videos, various plugins, email services, social monitoring and scheduling tools, nurturing platform, data and analytics reporting… and the list goes on. For every password you need, that is a tool you are using, which is hosted somewhere.
Before you sign on the line with any provider, here is a very basic list of security questions you should ask:
Ask about their network:
- How many data centers do you have?
- Do you have an on-site security team?
- What is your network DDoS avoidance strategy?
- If a network DDoS does occur, what is your mitigation plan?
Ask about their application:
- What is your redundancy plan should your application go down?
- Do you mirror the content anywhere?
Ask about an SLA in the event there is an outage. This is a promise they will have you back up and running in a defined amount of time, or else…
So if you are afraid of sounding technically illiterate, remember you are an expert in marketing. You are just trying to understand the limitations of the services are you are using to get your message out…a message that took a long time to craft.
When your GoDaddy-hosted site goes down or you get a 404 error, the dreaded Twitter fail whale appears on your home feed, or perhaps your email seems to be a monologue with no opens or clicks, know who to turn to and what questions to ask.
The moral of this blog? Today’s marketers need to know at least the technical basics, no longer can you leave that to the engineers and IT operations to know.
Kristi Mason is the Director of Brand Marketing at Dyn, the world leader in Internet Performance Solutions that delivers traffic management, message management, and performance assurance. Follow her on Twitter: @KristiSpeaks and @Dyn.