Please read the interview of Marco van der Hoeven, chief editor at Executive People, with Sebastiaan Laurijsse, Senior Director IT Infrastructure at NXP. In this interview he explains how Splunk is used to process fast changes in the market.  The entire article is also readable on the Executive People website.

 

Only with good data, you can stay ahead of the competition!

Chipproducer NXP is one of the most successful Dutch technology companies. To remain in that position, R&D is crucial. Essential for the product life cycle of a semiconductor is the stage of preparation and testing, prior to production. NXP is managing that perfectly by using Splunk, implemented together with SMT. The experiences have been that good, that NXP started to use Splunk for Cyber Security as well. Executive People talked about it with Sebastiaan Laurijsse, Senior Director IT Infrastructure at NXP.

 

NXP (Next eXPerience) Semiconductors originates from a division of Philips. The company has affiliates in 33 countries with their headquarters in Eindhoven in the Netherlands and had a turnover of $9.498 billion in 2016. In 2017 Qualcomm put in a takeover bid of € 43 billion, which was approved by the European Commission early 2018. The products of NXP are not directly visible for a large audience but are massively used. For example, at least 90% of all cars have NXP chips on board.

Organize for Change is a program running at NXP and was launched to manage the fast growth of the company and the constant changes in the market. The industry is asking for faster lifecycles and quicker decision-making.

Visibility everywhere

“The question we had was essentially to create insight across the entire landscape in a uniform way”, says Sebastiaan Laurijsse, Head of IT Infrastructure at NXP. “It is all about data: the organization with the right data will make the best business decisions, and that’s what it takes to provide the very best service to your customer. You want more insight into your customers and understand what they are going to do. We wanted to translate the business into IT-wishes, based on models that indicate the consequences of certain decisions. That way you can fully automate the decision-making process, based on historical data.”

This is why NXP is using Splunk. “To us, Splunk is the aggregator of all that data, and the foundation for further actions.” When NXP started looking for a solution, two products were available; Splunk and an open source product without commercial support.  “The fact that I already had some previous experience with Splunk at another organization, where we also partnered with SMT helped as well. We learned that they are Elite Partner of Splunk with an official training center, so the connection was obvious.

Value

“The essence of a solution like Splunk is the value of data. SMT has a team of specialists, who can showcase the value of using Splunk. You start in one area, like R&D, and during the course of time you learn that you can create value with that data in other areas as well.  Such as security, where you can also make improvements based on the generated data.

An important part of NXP that uses Splunk is the R&D IT department. “Splunk enables us to divide the available computing power in the most efficient way. It is like sharing a highway. When the capacity is not divided equally a traffic jam arises and traffic comes to a stop. You do not want that as a company. We are looking for ‘road-hogs’ who interrupt the process and help them to get insight into the process to improve the situation for them and their colleagues.

 

Flow

“This is how we want to create a flow which is always predictable. That is also what our customers want. We have to be able to tell when a product has gone through all compute clusters. This is how we know a product is really good before it goes into production. And this way all 12.000 engineers can use the capacity efficiently.”

SMT is implementation partner of Splunk at the R&D IT department and also supports the onboarding of security use-cases. “Such use-cases have to be created based on the data, and they help us to make the systems more secure. A real-life example is: how is it possible that someone opens a security port in Eindhoven and accesses the system from San José (US)? Something is wrong and we need to be able to notice that in real-time to take action.

Operational excellence

The next step, according to Laurijsse, is creating value for operational excellence. “We want to automate repetitive and predictable work as much as possible. For example, if the data indicates that something might go wrong with certain hardware, you want a process to be started to solve the issue. The data triggers an action. This is how you create an autonomous IT-environment. “

“You also want to ensure that your systems are capable to process specific technology. This way we are future-proof. The system automatically lets you know which adjustments and possible investments are needed to meet specific demands and requirements in the application environment.”

Interventions

“Today, a significant part of my team is still busy solving incidents. This is not creating value. Creating value is automatically upscaling capacity in the cloud, or automatically purchasing a laptop if an old one tends to go down. Everything you can capture in a workflow, can also be automated. That is what we do with Splunk and that is how we create value.”

“That is more than just technology, because it also means that people will be working in a different way. With these kinds of changes you will notice resilience at first, because an algorithm makes better decisions than humans. The data can show that processes which have been in place for years, are not the most efficient. With the interventions we do today, we generate visibility, which accelerates various changes. That’s not always nice, but that’s how it’s going to be.

 

Guts

“We are going through that change as we speak, not only with Splunk, but also with other things, such as agile working. It is important to explain it very well, and to use ‘change champions’ to guide the process. Repeat your message constantly and modify it to your audience and don’t forget to involve them in the change process.  We are currently facing a generation gap, where people react differently to technology. It is a transition that requires you to make an effort, and it is never finished. But it is important to show guts, especially if you want to remain a market leader.”