Business Continuity, the Supply Chain, and Data Security
A closer look at an overlooked area of supply chain security – virtual threats
Article by Jim Bramwell, Senior Vice President, Strategic Partners and Business Development, VWR International and Colin Lafferty, Vice President Quality, VWR International
VWR is an international leader in scientific product distribution, with more than 6,500 associates in more than 20 countries.
We hold to the principle that customers benefit from the accessibility and familiarity of local sales teams who are dedicated to enabling science by providing customers with the quality products they need to advance the world’s most critical research. This principle extends to the use of our technology, both to provide greater interaction among our global associates, and as a means to better serve our customers through increased responsiveness.
Supply Chain Security
As Rx-360 members are keenly aware, there is a crucial need to secure supply chains from increasing external and internal threats. While we know that a range of events can impact our supply chain, including product shortages, criminal acts and natural disasters, many companies overlook the possibility of technology failures, which can have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the company as a whole. To this end, VWR has developed a substantive business continuity program to ensure business can safely and effectively continue in case of emergency. The plan, led by VWR’s Business Continuity Manager and IS team, enables a timely and effective response and recovery effort when a business or technology interruption occurs at any key company location.
Hardened, Secure Data Center
In order to better avoid and prevent any adverse events, a specific part of VWR’s crisis planning was a massive upgrade to the core data systems. To strengthen defenses against a technology emergency, VWR migrated all data to a new North American Data Center. This improved the overall ability to maintain continuity in an emergency, and provided an extra level of security for sensitive information through infrastructure enhancements. VWR’s North American data center has 24/7 manned security, redundant public utility power sources, and redundant wide areas network capabilities.
In the unlikely event that, even with all our redundancies, VWR’s main data center is incapacitated, a contract vendor is in place to support an alternate data center. The Information Services Department performed a mock disaster test to evaluate our ability to react to an adverse event and ensure the center is aligned with the Disaster Recovery Program, with follow-up physical restoration tests planned at intervals.
In another phase of inspection, VWR also implemented a comprehensive business continuity survey process to evaluate the resiliency of its information systems vendors.
The new technological programs implemented use VMWare technology, which improves performance, scalability and reliability, all while remaining environmentally stable. This technology has high-availability architecture, dynamic CPU allocation based on load, and a consolidated footprint. With this initiative, VWR was able to reduce the North America server count by nearly 75%, which led to a carbon footprint reduction equivalent to removing 300 cars from the road.
These and other upgrades allow VWR to manage and store data more efficiently and securely. They provide an extra layer of security for customers and keep business running as usual in the event of an emergency. While IS data system performance or security may be minimized or perhaps even overlooked during supplier audits, an individual company’s ability to prevent internal business disruption or rebound from a technology related disaster should be a key area for consideration.