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Do you have horse DNA in your IT supply chain?

‎03-26-2013 04:03 AM - edited ‎09-02-2013 07:55 AM

We on the Enterprise 2020 team at HP believe that IT will increasingly rely on a “digital supply chain”.


We beleve that applications that are generic and don’t differentiate the business will be provided by SaaS companies.


And those applications that do differentiate the business (“core applications”) will have cloud components in them. These cloud components will provide elements of the application that are themselves generic.  We call these applications “hybrid applications”. Recent HP research found that 99% of IT executives believed they would be using hybrid applications by 2020.


Cloud providers will look after corporate data

So, we’ll have SaaS companies looking after our non-differentiating, non-core applications. In doing so, these SaaS providers will be looking after some of the Enterprise’s data.


And we’ll have “core” hybrid applications where some of the Enterprise’s data is also held by cloud providers.


We will thus need to ensure that the cloud providers have good multi-tenancy procedures. And we’ll need to ensure good state change handshakes between the Enterprise and the cloud provider. A state change might be something like a user leaving the organization. Intermediaries like ping.com have already been setup to handle these state change handshakes.


Cloud providers calling cloud providers can cause problems

Now, when one cloud provider calls another cloud provider, we’ll start to run into problems. We’ll lose visibility of the supply chain and thus, of the our Enterprise’s data.


 Where have we seen problems with two and three level supply chain hierarchies before? With the bad debt that started the recent financial melt down. With horse meat getting into the “beef” supply chain used for beef burgers, bolognaise, and the like in Europe.


Tesco is the largest grocery store in the UK, and the second most profitable in the world, after Walmart. The UK food standards agency found horse DNA in a variety of Tesco meat products. In every Tesco store in the UK there is now a large poster explaining that Tesco has learnt from the horse DNA scandal and how it will, in future, keep a much more watchful eye over its multi-hierarchy supply chains. To quote the Guardian newspaper, “Clarke [Tesco’s CEO] promises to scrutinize Tesco's supply chain to prevent horsemeat being sold in meat products”.


Tesco was far from alone in having horse DNA in its "beef" products but its response shows how key it believes monitoring of its supply chain is.


Getting the advantages of cloud, without getting the horse DNA

I believe that the cloud is good for Enterprises because it allows the IT department to focus totally on helping differentiate the business.


But using cloud for PaaS and SaaS is not “free”. Just like Tesco, Findus and others are now going to spend more resource on ensuring the purity of their multi-hierarchy supply chains, so the Enterprise of 2020 will have to do the same. It’s not horse meat DNA Enterprise IT needs to worry about, it’s the security of Enterprise data that is of concern:


  • Is the data private?
  • Is the data’s backup and recovery good enough?
  • Is the data stored in the right place (Germany and Canada don’t allow their citizens’ data to be stored out of the country, for example)?
  • Are all the compliance regulations adhered to?


These questions are easy to answer if you control the application in your own data center. They are relatively easy to answer if you are dealing with one, reliable cloud supplier. It’s when one cloud supplier uses another cloud supplier that things start to get tough.


Because of this, I believe Enterprises will prefer to deal with SaaS and PaaS providers who don’t in turn call other cloud providers.


Setting up processes to stop horse DNA getting into our digital supply chain

What we therefore do to stop horse DNA getting into our digital supply chain?


We are going to have to put in place processes to choose our cloud suppliers. We need to make sure that some programmer in the bowels of the Enterprise doesn’t make such cloud decisions for us.


And once a cloud provider has been chosen, we need to monitor that supplier to ensure they don’t “put horse DNA into our products” – that they look after our data in the way we need it looked after – secure, backed up and recoverable, correctly geo-placed and compliant with all the appropriate regulations. 


Author : Mike Shaw

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About the Author


Mike has been with HP for 30 years. Half of that time was in R&D, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, solution marketing. .

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