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In the 21st Century Digital Age in which servers and applications are increasingly interconnected via public, hybrid and on-premises cloud networks; virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT), organizations require near flawless security, system availability and reliability.
Unplanned downtime irrespective of the reason is unacceptable and costly due to its negative impact on productivity. When network servers, OSs and applications are unavailable, business ceases. This has a domino effect on corporate enterprises, customers, business partners and suppliers. Four nines – 99.99% uptime is now the minimum reliability required by 79% of organizations.

IBM Z Next Features

The IBM Z, the 14th generation of IBM’s industry-leading mainframe technology, advances the already solid and robust security and reliability features inherent in the platform over the last decade. It also amps up the processing power to new levels. The IBM z14 has the ability to process 12 Billion encrypted transactions daily. It accomplishes this via the industry’s fastest microprocessor and a new scalable system structure that delivers a 35 percent capacity increase for traditional workloads and a 50 percent capacity increase for Linux workloads compared to the previous generation IBM z13.The system can support:

• More than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day on a single system.
• The world’s largest MongoDB instance with2.5x faster NodeJS performance than x86-based platforms.
• Two million Docker Containers.
• 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases.
Other new capabilities in the IBM Z Next include:
• Three times the memory of the z13 for faster response times, greater throughput and accelerated analytics performance. With 32TB of memory, IBM Z offers one of the largest memory footprints in the industry.
• Three times faster I/O and accelerated transaction processing compared to the z13 to drive growth in data, transaction throughput and lower response time.
• Pervasive Encryption for rock solid security.
• The ability to run Java workloads 50 percent faster than x86 alternatives
• Improved Storage Area Network response time with zHyperLink, delivering 10x latency reduction compared to the z13. This cuts application response time in half – enabling businesses to do much more work such as real-time analytics or interact with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud applications within the same transaction, without changing a single line of application code.
• IBM also previewed new z/OS software that provides foundational capabilities for private cloud service delivery. This allows organizations to transform from an IT cost center to a value-generating service provider. When available, these capabilities will include the support of workflow extensions for IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS and real-time SMF analytics infrastructure support.

The Most Powerful Transaction System for the Cloud Era

According to IBM, its latest Z mainframe builds on the capabilities of the world’s most powerful transaction engine at the center of global commerce today supporting:
• 87 percent of all credit card transactions and nearly $8 trillion payments a year.
• 29 billion ATM transactions each year, worth nearly $5 billion per day.
• Four billion passenger flights each year.
• More than 30 billion transactions per day – more than the number of Google searches every day.
• 68 percent of the world’s production workloads at only six percent of the total IT cost.

Security is Inherent in IBM Z

All of the aforementioned new IBM Z capabilities reinforce the already robust Reliability and Security features that IBM has embedded into the platform over the past decade. This in turn, serves to strengthen the IBM Z as a premier platform for the Cloud and IoT environments.
IBM integrated security directly into the Z platform – it’s not an add-on feature. In both the current IBM Z Next and prior z13 servers, IBM was acutely aware that the complex nature of security features and capabilities can present a significant impediment to deployment. Hence, it made a conscious decision to simplify security across the Z line of mainframes.
Applications like Big Data, analytics, cloud, virtualization and IoT environments all demand the highest levels of security. IBM’s strategy is to deliver the most robust set of security tools and capabilities and support state-of-the-art encryption and make it easy for IT security professionals to implement.
The Z servers incorporate a wide range of security capabilities. These include:
• Consistent policy based user authentication, access control, audit and management
• Protecting critical data with high-speed encryption and centralized key management
• Creating a secure foundation for enterprise cloud and consolidated workloads
• Strengthened compliance and audit responsiveness to evolving regulations
• Reduced operation risk with early detection of application and network vulnerabilities
• Encryption at the click of a button — even while applications are running — and the ability to migrate data from unencrypted to encrypted without impacting performance.

For the ninth year in a row, corporate enterprise users said IBM’s z Systems Enterprise mainframe class server achieved near flawless reliability, recording less than 10 seconds of unplanned per server downtime each month.
Those are the results of the independent ITIC 2017 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey which polled 750 organizations worldwide during April/May 2017. In order to obtain the most accurate and unbiased results, ITIC accepted no vendor sponsorship for the study.
Looking more deeply at the Survey results, security and continuous uptime/reliability are two of the most crucial considerations that all organizations should take into account when choosing mission critical server, including those that serve as the foundation for cloud-based, virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.

Despite their importance, reliability and security issues are often eclipsed by performance, configuration, features/functions and scalability in discussions involving powerful high-end server platforms, such as the IBM Z mainframe. Businesses, their IT departments and security professionals take for granted that mainframes and other high-end server platforms will, by definition, deliver optimal Reliability, Security and safeguards.
However, many organizations fail to consider that Reliability doesn’t just occur automatically and all security is not created or delivered equally in terms of ease-of-use and deployment. IBM executives and customers elucidated exactly how Big Blue differentiates the inherent security capabilities and features in its Z Next family from competitors.

That’s not the case with the newest IBM z14 mainframe.

ITIC Reliability Survey Finds IBM z Mainframe Delivers Best Reliability and Security

ITIC’s 2017 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability survey which polled 750 businesses during May found that among mainstream servers, the IBM Z platform delivered the highest levels of reliability/uptime – among 13 server hardware and 11 different server hardware virtualization platforms. Specifically, 88% of the over 750 global respondents indicated that the IBM Z delivered the equivalent of 99.999% or 99.9999% uptime and availability.

The IBM Z family of mainframe class servers has consistently delivered the highest levels of Reliability and Security, according to the results of every ITIC survey conducted since 2008.
• The latest ITIC 2017 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability was no exception. Corporate enterprises ranked the IBM Z server platform Number One in every category. IBM Z mainframe class servers once again had the distinction of being ranked “best in class” for reliability, accessibility, performance, and security among all servers.
• Most Reliable: IBM Z mainframe class servers exhibit true mainframe fault tolerance experiencing just 0.96 – less than one minute of unplanned per server, per annum annual downtime. That equates to just eight (8) seconds per month or “blink and you miss it,” two (2) seconds of weekly downtime.
• Least Unplanned Downtime: The IBMZ family of servers also the lowest incidence – 0% — of >4 hours of per server/per annum downtime of any hardware platform (See Exhibit 2) .
• IBM Z ranked Number One in overall customer satisfaction
• Highest Security Ratings: 94% of respondents rated the IBM Z platform security as “Excellent,” 4% ranked it “Very Good” and 2% gave it a “Good” rating.
• Most Secure Server Platform: The IBM Z corporate customers reported the fewest number of successful penetrations over the last 12 – 24 months. The IBM Z platform respondents averaged less than one (<1) successful security penetrations in the last two years (See Exhibit 3). And among the three (3) IBM Z organizations that were hacked, all reported they were able to identify, isolate and thwart the attack before it could inflict any damage.
• IBM Power Systems, Lenovo System x and Cisco server security also scored well: IBM Power Systems servers averaged five penetrations in the last 12 to 24 months; while Lenovo System x servers and Cisco UCS servers were successfully hacked six times in the same two-year span. By contrast, respondents using competing platforms averaged from 8 to 22 successful penetrations during the same 24 month period.
• IBM hardware running the Z/OS and Linux operating system distributions ranked first every Reliability category, including cloud, virtualization and security.
Infrastructure reliability and security are core, foundational elements of robust, high performance, flexible, agile and scalable networks. As such they are more crucial than ever to the business, and its bottom line. Corporate computing environments continue to increase in size. They are also becoming ever more compute-intensive. Organizations are also expanding their use of complex technologies like public, hybrid and on-premises cloud networks, virtualization, Big Data Analytics and Cognitive Computing.
Additionally, the scope of networks is expanding via Internet of Things (IoT) and the Network Edge/Perimeter deployments – all of which incorporate mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solutions. In these situations, it is imperative that the core infrastructure servers deliver the highest availability. The latest ITIC survey data indicates that 79% of corporate respondents now require 99.99% availability. This is an increase of seven percent from the 72% of respondents in ITIC’s prior 2016 survey a year ago.
On the security front, the sharp rise in interconnected servers, applications and people, coupled with the pervasive use of BYOD and mobile devices has increased the “attack surface or vector” exponentially. There are myriad sources of security breaches. They originate everywhere: from the network edge, to the data center, in the cloud and from mobile devices. Hackers themselves are more sophisticated and the attacks are more pernicious. As a result, inherent, robust, intelligent and automated security is an absolute necessity.
Reliability and security have always been crucial and necessary elements of a successful network and systems infrastructure. They are even more important in today’s digital age of interconnected systems, networks, devices, applications and people, where the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Server hardware is the bedrock upon which an organization’s daily operations rest. Any disruption or outage of even a few minutes will have immediate consequences. It will cause a domino effect that will reverberate throughout the entire ecosystem of the corporation’s end users, business partners, customers and suppliers.

ITIC’s Reliability Survey Data found that the average enterprise workload has increased by 34% since 2015. This is due to larger, more compute-intensive applications
Overall, some 48% of the survey respondents indicated that the increase in data center server workloads has had a noticeable impact on monthly and annual server reliability/availability and uptime. However, among IBM Z server platform respondents, only two percent (2%) of businesses indicated that server reliability was adversely impacted by an increase in workloads and among this two percent of respondents, the overwhelming majority (91%) reported mild increases in server downtime of one to three percentage points.

IBM’s ongoing efforts to harden the embedded security in the Z mainframe platform are also borne out in the survey responses. Once again, the IBM Z servers achieved the highest security ratings from customers  with 94% of respondents giving it an “Excellent” rating; 4% ranked it “Very Good” and the remaining 2% said “Good.” None of the respondents gave IBM Z mainframe security anything less than a Good grade.





 IBM z Systems Enterprise; IBM Power Systems Servers Most Reliable for Ninth Straight Year;  Lenovo x86 Servers Deliver Highest Uptime/Availability among all Intel x86-based Systems

For the ninth year in a row, corporate enterprise users said IBM’s z Systems Enterprise mainframe class server achieved near flawless reliability, recording less than 10 seconds of unplanned per server downtime each month. Among mainstream servers,  IBM Power Systems devices and the Lenovo x86 platform delivered the highest levels of reliability/uptime among 14 server hardware and 11 different server hardware virtualization platforms.

Those are the results of the ITIC 2017 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey which polled 750 organizations worldwide during April/May 2017.

Among the top survey findings:

  • IBM z Systems Enterprise mainframe class systems, had the lowest incident – 0% — of > 4 hours of per server/per annum downtime of any hardware platform. Specifically, IBM z Systems mainframe class servers exhibit true mainframe fault tolerance experiencing just 0.96 minutes of   of unplanned per server annual downtime. That equates to 8 seconds per month or “blink and you miss it,” 2 seconds of unplanned weekly downtime. This is an improvement over the 1.12 minutes of per server/per annum downtime the z Systems servers recorded in ITIC’s 2016 – 2017 Reliability poll nine months ago.
  • Among mainstream hardware platforms, IBM Power Systems and Lenovo System x running Linux have least amount of unplanned downtime 2.5 and 2.8 minutes per server/per year of any mainstream Linux server platforms.
  • 88% of IBM Power Systems and 87% of Lenovo System x users running RHEL, SuSE or Ubuntu Linux experience fewer than one unplanned outage per server, per year.
  • Tenly two percent of IBM and Lenovo servers recorded >4 hours of unplanned per server/per annum downtime; followed by six percent of HPE servers; eight percent of Dell servers and 10% of Oracle servers.
  • IBM and Lenovo hardware and the Linux operating system distributions were either first or second in every reliability category, including virtualization and security.
  • Lenovo x86 servers achieved the highest reliability ratings among all competing x86 platforms
  • Lenovo Takes Top Marks for Technical Service and Support: Lenovo tech support the best followed by Cisco and IBM
  • Some 66% of survey respondents said aged hardware (3 ½+ years old) had a negative impact on server uptime and reliability vs. 21% that said it has not impacted reliability/uptime. This is 22% increase from the 44% who said outmoded hardware negatively impacted uptime in 2014
  • Reliability continues to decline for the fifth year in a row on the HP ProLiant and Oracle’s SPARC & x86 hardware and Solaris OS. Reliability on the Oracle platforms declined slightly mainly due to aging. Many Oracle hardware customers are eschewing upgrades, opting instead to migrate to rival platforms.
  • Some 16% of Oracle customers rated service & support as Poor or Unsatisfactory. Dissatisfaction with Oracle licensing and pricing policies remains consistently high for the last three years.
  • Only 1% of Cisco, 1% of Dell, 1% of IBM and Lenovo, 3% of HP, 3% of Fujitsu and 4% of Toshiba users gave those vendors “Poor” or “Unsatisfactory” customer support ratings.

And continuing a trend that has manifested over the past three years, Human Error and Security, respectively are the chief issues that negatively impact server hardware/server operating system reliability and cause downtime.      

Unsurprisingly, in the 21st Century Digital Age, the functionality and reliability of the core, foundation server hardware and server operating systems is more crucial than ever. The server hardware and the server OSes are the bedrock upon which the organization’s mainstream line of business (LOB) applications rest.  High reliability and near continual system and application availability is imperative for organizations’ core on-premises, cloud based and Network Edge/Perimeter environments. Infrastructure — irrespective of location – is essential to the overall health of business operations.

The inherent reliability and robustness of server hardware and the server operating systems are the singularly most critical factors that influence, impact and ultimately determine the uptime and availability of mission critical line of business applications, virtual machines (VMs) that run on top of them and the connectivity devices that access them.

On a positive note, the inherent reliability of server hardware and server operating system software  as well as advancements in the underlying processor technology, all continue to improve year over year. But the survey results also reveal that external issues, most notably human error and security breaches,  have also assumed greater significance in undermining system and network accessibility and performance.

The overall health of network operations, applications, management and security functions all depend on the core foundation elements: server hardware, server operating systems and virtualization to deliver high availability, robust management and solid security. The reliability of the server, server OS and virtualization platforms form the foundation of the entire network infrastructure. The individual and collective reliability of these platforms have a direct, immediate and long lasting impact on daily operations and business results.

The ITIC survey also polled customers on the minimum acceptable reliability requirements for their organizations’ main line of business servers and applications.

Reliability Trends

  • Majority of corporations Need “Four Nines” of Uptime. Some 79% of corporations now require a minimum of 99.99% uptime for mission critical hardware, operating systems & main line of business (LOB) applications. This is a 30% increase of  from the 49% of respondents who said their firms required a minimum “four nines” of uptime in the 2014 survey.
  • Cost of Hourly Downtime Increases: 98% of firms say hourly downtime costs exceed $150K; 31% of respondents estimate hourly downtime costs their companies up to $400K; this is a seven percent increase from 2014 survey & 33% indicate that one hour of downtime now costs $1M to >$5M
  • Security, BYOD and mobility pose the biggest technology threats to reliability
  • Technical service & support and fast, efficient vendor responsiveness are crucial
  • Overall Top Issues Negatively impacting network reliability are:
  • Human Error (e.g., misconfiguration, right-sizing server workloads etc.) – 80% vs. 49% in 2015 poll
  • Complexity – involving provisioning, deployment & usage of new technologies e.g. Data Analytics, IoT, Network Edge/Perimeter and mobile apps
  • Increased workloads on aging hardware

Human Error Overtakes Security as Chief Cause of Downtime

The survey also showed that the three technology issues of most concern according to this year’s survey are: Security, Disaster Recovery and Backup and Business Continuity. At the same time, the survey results find that 80% of respondents cited human error as the chief culprit of unplanned downtime, surpassing Security issues which were pinpointed by 59% of those polled.

Additionally, ITIC’s latest 2017 Reliability research reveals that a variety of external factors are having more of a direct impact on system downtime and overall availability. These include overworked and understaffed IT departments; the rapid mainstream adoption of complex new technologies such as the aforementioned IoT, Big Data Analytics, virtualization and increasing cloud computing deployments and the continuing proliferation of BYOD and mobility technologies.

In the context of its Reliability Surveys, ITIC broadly defines human error to encompass both the technology and business mistakes organizations make with respect to their network equipment and strategies.

Human error as it relates to technology includes but is not limited to:

  • Configuration, deployment and management mistakes
  • Failure to upgrade or right size servers to accommodate more data and compute intensive workloads.
  • Failure to migrate and upgrade outmoded applications that are no longer supported by the vendor.
  • Failing to keep up to date on patches and security.

Human error with respect to business issues includes:

  • Failure to allocate the appropriate Capital Expenditure and Operational Expenditure funds for equipment purchases and ongoing management and maintenance functions
  • Failure to devise, implement and upgrade the necessary computer and network to address issues like Cloud computing, Mobility, Remote Access, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
  • Failure to construct and enforce strong computer and network security policies.
  • Ignorance of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Failure to track hourly downtime costs.
  • Failure to track and assess the impact of Service Level Agreements and regulatory compliance issues like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).


Reliability is and will continue to be among the most crucial metrics in the organization. Improvements or declines in reliability can either mitigate or increase technical and business risks to the organization’s end users and its external customers.  The ability to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) hinges on server reliability, uptime and manageability. These are key indicators that enable organizations to determine which server operating system platform or combination thereof is most suitable.

To ensure business continuity and increase end user productivity, it is imperative that businesses maximize the reliability and uptime of their server hardware and server operating systems. A 79% majority of corporations now require “four nines” or 99.99% minimum uptime. Organizations are advised to “right size” their server hardware to accommodate increased workloads and larger applications. Businesses should also regularly replace, retrofit and refresh their server hardware and server operating systems with the necessary patches, updates and security fixes as needed to maintain system health. At the same time, server hardware and server operating system vendors should be up front and provide their customers with realistic recommendations for system configurations to achieve optimal performance. Vendors also bear the responsibility to deliver patches, fixes and updates in a timely manner and to inform customers to the best of their ability regarding any known incompatibility issues that may potentially impact performance. Vendors should also be honest with customers in the event there is a problem or delay with delivering replacement parts.


Protecting and maintaining brand reputation is essential for any company. As a result, it is essential for enterprises to proactively monitor and manage all activities- operational and experiential – that influence a consumer’s overall brand experience. Ignorance involving any aspect of business operations will result in ongoing, significant consequences. It will damage a corporation’s reputation; adversely impact customers; result in operational inefficiencies, business losses and potential litigation; and even criminal penalties. It also raises the corporation’s risk of non-compliance with crucial local, state, federal and international industry regulations.

This is especially true for firms in fast-paced, competitive and highly regulated industries, including but not limited to the food, hospitality, hotel, restaurant, retail and transportation vertical markets. Typically, these organizations have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of stores, restaurants and hotels located in multiple, geographically remote locations. They must collect, aggregate and analyze a veritable data deluge in real-time. And they must respond proactively and take preventative measures to correct issues as they arise. Organizations that do business across multiple states and internationally, face other challenges. They must synchronize and integrate processes and data across the entire enterprise. Businesses must also ensure that every restaurant, hotel or retail store in the chain, achieves and maintains compliance with a long list of complex standards, health and safety laws.

ITIC’s research indicates that companies across a wide range of industries are deploying a new class of Quality Experience Management software. These solutions let businesses access the latest information on daily operations, policies, procedures and safety mechanisms in an automated fashion. They also let companies take preventative and remedial action irrespective of time, distance or physical location.

Quality Experience Management software with built-in Business Intelligence tools can deliver immediate and long-term benefits and protect the corporate brand. ITIC’s customer-based research shows that RizePoint, based in Salt Lake City, UT – with 20 years’ experience in audit compliance monitoring, reporting and correction – is the clear market leader. Its software delivers brand protection and risk mitigation with mobile and cloud capabilities, increasing efficiency and productivity.


Non-compliance is expensive, risky and unacceptable.

This is true of all companies – from the smallest organizations with fewer than 25 employees to the largest multinational global enterprises of over 10,000 employees regardless of vertical market.

Damage to the corporation’s brand and reputation due to non-compliance can be severe and protracted. In worst-case scenarios, a company’s brand may be so irreparably damaged that the firm goes bankrupt or out of business, altogether.

Firms that run afoul of requirements by authorities like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its compliance arm, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as international compliance and standards bodies like the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), risk severe criminal, civil and legal penalties.

These include fines, inspections/re-inspections and even jail time for company executives. The penalties may cost organizations, thousands, tens of thousands and, in extreme cases hundreds of thousands for each separate incidence or occurrence. Additionally, non-compliant corporations are at high risk of litigation from their business partners, vendors and customers at every juncture in the increasingly global supply chain. Corporations can also be sued by consumers.

The direct and indirect monetary penalties for regulatory non-compliance are high and growing ever more expensive as governments and their regulatory agencies enact new laws to safeguard their various global supply chains.

An organization’s reputation is one of its most valuable assets. Safeguarding the integrity of the corporate brand and the reliability of its daily operations via automated, Quality Experience Management software is imperative for every organization that expects to thrive and maintain the confidence and satisfaction of its customers – and comply with laws.

In the 21st century digital age of interconnected networks, no vertical industry is a standalone silo. Every market segment belongs to a macrocosm in which vendors and customers are linked by their inter-dependencies. Organizations that participate in the agri-food supply chain are also impacted by operations in a wide range of verticals including: finance; healthcare; retail; services; transportation (airlines, shipping and trucking) and weather, to name a few. In managing daily operations, companies in the food, restaurant, hospitality, hotel and retail industries must pay close attention to the goings-on in the aforementioned industries. Any issues with weather or shipping, for example could potentially disrupt business. The symbiotic and global nature of today’s business environment requires agility, scalability, innovation and automated real-time access to analyze data. Quality Experience Management software addresses the challenges of the data deluge.

Businesses that prosper in today’s complex economic environment and supply chain are increasingly turning to automated quality experience management tools that enable them to assess risks and make informed decisions. These solutions, which incorporate advanced data analytics and BI functionality, enable organizations to collect and analyze a wide variety of data. This involves monitoring ongoing daily, monthly, quarterly and annual operations, comparing and contrasting pricing and purchasing trends to gain a competitive edge over rivals, and increasing brand visibility in competitive markets. Fortunately, quality experience management tools are not only more affordable today than in the past, but they are easier to deploy, provision and use.

This emerging class of quality experience management tools obviates the need to use outmoded manual spreadsheets to perform and document the results of audits and inspections. Using spreadsheets to manually input data is complex and time-consuming. Additionally, it often fails to capture key pieces of data and manual updates are also more error-prone.  By contrast, use of quality experience management software tools that incorporate BI and analytics capabilities deliver immediate and tangible business benefits across a wide variety of vertical markets. These include:

  • Inspection information is now quickly and efficiently collected and shared.
  • Issues and concerns are immediately shared with regional executive management and the pertinent local managers who can take immediate remedial corrective and preventative action.
  • Line of business managers and C-level executives can utilize the data generated to identify key trends and compare results across the business, using audit data such as: compare/contrast data – including policies, procedures, revenue, safety issues, results of inspections and food and beverage quality across multiple locations throughout the enterprise in order to spot key trends on revenue, spending, pricing and compliance. This in turn empowers the business to make strategic business and technology decisions that can positively impact the bottom line, deliver a competitive advantage and avoid compliance issues or safety hazards before they occur.
  • Improved productivity among the corporation’s workers and increased customer satisfaction.


Maintaining and safeguarding a brand’s reputation requires consistent adherence to brand standards. RizePoint is clearly positioned as the Quality Experience Management market leader, with accelerated customer interest and adoption, and a clear and visionary product road-map that includes specific feature value for customers in the food service, retail and hospitality industries. RizePoint makes that easier by letting clients tap into the latest mobile and cloud technology.

That technology also makes it easier for corporations to ensure regulatory compliance. Clients can then use their next-generation auditing solution as the launching pad for important new business initiatives and opportunities.

Corporate enterprises across all vertical market segments should view auditing and compliance as core requirements. They are absolutely essential to guarantee that the organization effectively monitors, manages and maintains the highest policies and procedures for its ongoing daily operations. Quality Experience Management software solutions that incorporate analytics and BI capabilities also serve as tactical tools and strategic competitive assets that assist organizations in the food, hospitality, hotel and restaurant verticals can better meet and serve the needs of every customer, business partner and supplier in their supply chains.