To meet the demands of today’s business landscape organisations must do everything possible to secure and integrate their information assets, while satisfying compliance mandates and optimising corporate efficiency. Files are getting larger and data transfer is a major headache for most IT departments. Large files moving back and forth between corporate groups and their datacentres account for the greatest volume of transfers: financial firms transfer checking account transactions or credit-card data; healthcare companies have to collate and synchronise data on specific procedures with the medical files; and retailers have to upload their latest sales data from their numerous stores.
Despite being insecure and outdated, the file transfer protocol (FTP) continues to be a popular method for sending large files between datacentres, corporate divisions, branch offices or business partners. But managed file transfer (MFT) is playing an increasing role in achieving data integration — a critical component of any corporate integration strategy.
Modern business organisations require advanced MFT technologies to deliver enterprise-level automation and integration functionalities, while ensuring the security and integrity of all transferred data. Through the use of advanced MFT, senior IT managers and CIOs can address security and privacy concerns.
The drawbacks of FTP
While being free and widely available, it is said older and less-sophisticated technologies such as FTP fail to meet the demands of today’s complex business landscape; basic file transfer technology is inherently limiting and its capabilities are fundamentally inadequate. Regulatory issues and changing corporate requirements make demands that the technology cannot satisfy.
The fact is many FTP and legacy file transfer applications were designed as simple utilities, not as enterprise solutions. As a result, it is said they lack the fundamental security, auditability, centralised management, control and integration capabilities needed to support today’s business environment.
Many organisations that depend on these legacy technologies are now giving serious consideration to advanced MFT.
Moving to advanced MFT
Effective MFT is an imperative for any organisation with information at its core. With internal and external mandates for business processes to be documented, auditable, and accountable, companies need to seize control of information-based business activity. While MFT deployments have been most prevalent in industries like banking, insurance and health care, its adoption has now spread across all vertical industries.
A good MFT solution, deployed as part of an overall business integration strategy, delivers on all these organisational needs and does so securely.
The MFT solution
Businesses are deploying MFT to solve their data movement and business integration challenges. But due diligence requires that CIOs look for an advanced MFT solution that can handle internal and external file transfer requirements, both over the internet and across all platforms.
These technologies must offer strong audit and reporting capabilities. With these organisations can track and control all aspects of data movement within and across the extended enterprise, and externally with customers and business partners.
An advanced MFT solution’s value is underpinned by the following fundamental concepts:
• Single point of control – Look for a centralised interface that serves as the single point of control for all files transferred, whether it be internally (across the extended enterprise) or externally (with customers, suppliers and business partners).
• Total security – There should be comprehensive authentication and authorisation for all users, servers, clients, and databases in the MFT network. Each server should contain its own authentication and authorisation schematics, while the solution should also offer delegated administration so access can be restricted at a very granular level.
• Total auditability – In addition to a comprehensive set of detailed audit reports, an MFT system should provide an extensive set of online inquiry tools to support ongoing operational and management needs. The availability of data on every aspect of every file transfer satisfies regulatory compliance mandates and guides corporate decision making.
• Guaranteed delivery – Guaranteed delivery is possible only in advanced MFT systems, through the use of automated restarts, exception alerts, queuing, production-workflow balancing, and software reliability rates of greater than 99.999 percent.
• End-to-end automation – End-to-end processing is a key requirement as it permits an organisation to automate and streamline many of the fundamental business processes built around file transfer.
• 'Inside and outside extended enterprise' capability – An advanced MFT solution will provide the secure connectivity required to transfer files inside and outside the enterprise (including suppliers, manufacturers, business partners and end customers) and do so across all platforms.
Martin Mooney is the New Zealand territory manager at Attachmate.
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