Degradation Sighted as
Supply Chain Danger
May 6, 2019
late March, supply chain risk management specialist Resilience360
released its first annual risk report, which outlines what the company
regards as the most serious risks to global supply chains for 2019. The
top three dangers cited by Resilience360 were trade flow, cybersecurity
incidents, and climate change paired with extreme weather conditions.
"These are all serious concerns," says Condusiv Technologies CEO James
D'Arezzo, "and logistics managers need to be prepared to deal with
them." D'Arezzo, whose company is the world leader in I/O reduction and
SQL database performance, adds, "However, a major internal problem,
degraded system performance, poses every bit as much of a potential
threat to the ability of supply chains to function."
The changing nature of the global supply chain itself, notes D'Arezzo,
places an increasingly heavy burden on IT system performance.
Traditional supply chain strategy prescribes loose relationships and
supply base reductions, implying fixed and unchanging transport links
monitored on the basis of a few seldom-changed key performance metrics.
What we actually have today, however, is an ecosystem of interconnected
companies across the entire global economy. This pays enormous benefits
in terms of speed and responsiveness, but it requires constantly updated
information and very close to real-time ability to react.
The difficulty of achieving this kind of operational flexibility becomes
clearer, D'Arezzo says, when you look at the size and complexity of the
transportation network involved. In the United States, Amazon, FedEx,
and UPS alone are capable of putting over 900 cargo jets in the air at
the same time, each controlled by individual air traffic control
towers-together handling just 5% of the nation's freight.3 Another 16%
of U.S. freight goes by rail, through a network in which 700 individual
carriers, each with its own system4, moves over 437 million freight car
loads per month.5 Most of the rest-$12.4 trillion worth per year-goes by
truck, via some 777,240 different carriers, each of which also has its
job of coordinating data from this universe of players, and adapting it
when necessary, is increasingly being given to sophisticated artificial
intelligence tools. No matter how powerful a given AI tool may be, it
cannot function until the overall system collects and delivers the data
it needs. The speed at which an IT system can do this, D'Arezzo notes,
is dependent on its input-output capacity, which over time degrades, no
matter the underlying hardware infrastructure. This is particularly true
of the Windows environment, where an MS-SQL database application might
be operating at as little as 50% of its optimum I/O speed.
The complexities of today's global, highly interdependent supply chains,
and the need for instant access to rapidly changing data, make it
imperative that IT managers constantly maximize throughput. Fortunately,
tools exist that enable this to take place in background, at the system
software level-where problems originate in the first place. "I/O
performance degradation," says D'Arezzo, "is purely a software issue.
Adding hardware can temporarily mask the problem, but cannot solve it.
Targeted performance enhancement software solutions, at minimal cost and
running in background, can improve total system throughput by 30% to 50%
or more with no additional investment in hardware. They should be part
of the toolkit of any IT manager in the supply chain and logistics