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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Scott Martin, CIO Of Nonni’s Food Company (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Oct 31st 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini

Sramana: These third-party companies are the ones with which you already work. You are not bringing in third-party companies that are specific to different vendors and their technologies?

Scott: That is correct.

Sramana: I see. Is that because you trust these integration vendors?

Scott: We already have a business relationship; they are already passing data back and forth via these channels, so having another data pass is pretty simple for them, and cost effective.

Sramana: What about your consumer packaged goods (CPG) data-specific integration? Are there vendors, integration vendors out there that you work with that have CPG-specific domain knowledge? Is there such an advantage to be gained?

Scott: I don’t think so on data integration. I think that is pretty straightforward. Anybody familiar with the back-end tables should be able to explain that. Whoever I work with, especially programmers, I tell them exactly what to do. I let them know, you need to take this data field and you need to pass it to this field and tell them exactly what to do through a program.

Sramana: What about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)? To what extent do foresee saving costs by using some of the infrastructure as a cloud services that are available or emerging?

Scott: That is interesting question. If we were talking, say, six months ago, I would say nothing! However, things change and there are some interesting things out there that have happened. One I can think of off the top of my head is a Web service called YouMail. You can use this to get your messages out from your BlackBerry and show up in your Outlook. It is inside of your regular business exchange server. They offer the service free, and it doesn’t require any migration, so why not join paths and allow those to pass through?The main infrastructure as a service, though, I don’t have any need for since I invested in something not too long ago. We have a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network that we are using to manage our network services on those. It is kind of a mix, it will probably continue being a mix, and I think the hosted solutions definitely increasingly make sense.

Sramana: What is your perspective on the solutions that are coming out of Amazon AWS? There is flexible infrastructure as and when you need it. Is that something you foresee using?

Scott: I personally don’t, just because I already have a good infrastructure that works and it is easy to manage and maintain.

Sramana: You don’t have a lot of flexible needs that come up?

Scott: No, we don’t. We are not doing anything here that is revolutionary that we need something like that.

Sramana: How have your security needs evolved as you have implemented a bunch of cloud solutions?

Scott: They are about the same, you know. First, we have to have a lot of faith in the vendors that are used, and data is going back and forth with them. You have to consider each of the different integration points, hooks that you have with them, and what that really means and whether you are going to allow someone into your network. When citing some of things in our contracts, I have noticed that a lot of different vendors have tried to get themselves off the hook on their contracts, such that they are not responsible for anything, not even if they purposely hand over the data to somebody else. You have to work with them on their contracts and make the right vendor selection.

Sramana: Vendors are trying to get off the hook, and they even want to be able to hand over data to someone else? Is that what I heard you say?

Scott: Basically, yes.

Sramana: What? Really?

Scott: It is all in contractual language, but if you get a gist of what they are saying, they are trying to keep themselves clean; some vendors are trying to wipe their hands off.

SM: Can you name these vendors?

Scott: No, I can’t. I do see some one-sided contracts that are very lenient from a vendor’s perspective.

Sramana: Outrageous, right?

Scott: Yeah, you are going to have to change the wording of those contracts if you ever want a chance of holding them responsible for screwing up your data! However, at the end of the day, it is really whether the way they write the contracts is done to get off the hook for some of their responsibility. I don’t think that is right, I try to work out some of those things upfront in the contracts so they can be held liable for any security lapses and such risks.

Sramana: I can’t believe this; I am absolutely speechless, because in cloud computing if you are going to take somebody else’s data, it is a requirement that you have to give them a certain level of security. Right?

Scott: Exactly. Some of these vendors do whatever they can to protect themselves, and I don’t know – I don’t think a lot of contracts the way, they are written, are really processed the way they should be. But we have to make sure that there is none of that kind of language is in the contract. I hope that vendors will get better and understand that whenever we make a change of contract [it is because] it is one-sided.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Scott Martin, CIO Of Nonni’s Food Company
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