Shop Talk: 2020-12-14

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Tracy Boggiano

Notes: Questions and Topics


Our major announcement is that the TriPASS 2020 membership survey is open. If you haven’t filled it out, it will be open for the next couple of weeks.

Stuff’s Broken: Google

We started out by covering the Google outage that morning. Interestingly, several sources I’ve seen say that the outage was “about an hour,” but I know YouTube was down at 4:30 AM Eastern and services weren’t fully back on until approximately 7 AM.

We also talked about redundancy in communication technologies: if you’re using GSuite, have an alternative. If you’re heavily invested in O365, have an alternative. When we’re all remote, having those backup methods of communication may feel redundant but it can be critical. Anders brought up cases where critical people had satellite phones. That answer might be a bit extreme for many companies, but before laughing it off, ask yourself how much it costs the company if nobody can communicate for a few hours. Also, I mentioned the possibility of dual-use systems: if you have meeting software (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, etc.) in addition to a separate provider for chat and e-mail, you can use it as a backstop…unless it’s also down.

Stuff’s Broken: the Rest of the World

Our major topic was all about Solarwinds Orion. This is a pretty big deal, as attackers were able to leverage a vulnerability in a downstream vendor to attack the real targets, which include quite a few US federal government agencies. The CISA (which does not have authority over the Department of Defense) mandated all non-defense agencies remove from the network any server running Solarwinds Orion software and not to bring those machines back onto the network until they get the all clear and wipe those machines.

The Departments of Commerce and Treasury have already announced breaches and Brian Krebs has a bit more, including speculation that it’s hit more than just those two departments.

Lesley Carhart lays out more of the story and points out both that this is not a new style of attack and that this is an extremely difficult vector to protect.

Pluralsight Acquisition

Our last major topic is that Vista Equity Partners is aiming to acquire Pluralsight for $3.5 billion. After an IPO in 2018, Vista would take Pluralsight back private. This still has to go through regulators, but I’m not sure I’d see any major roadblocks there.

We then spent a fair amount of time talking about various training offerings and how the market has shifted. When Pluralsight first came out, it was not the first of its kind, but it was a great way for developers to acquire professional training via video. They expanded this out over the years, but that market is pretty well filled out. Pluralsight has responded by moving more to certification training and project work rather than directed video training, and we’ve seen other training players move in that direction as well.

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