Manchester United and the Exploding Mobile Phone

Manchester United and the Exploding Mobile Phone

It hit me at 3.20pm on Sunday, as fans started to pour out of the stadium that the game had been cancelled. The end of season party was over and the 3,500 travelling Bournemouth fans fell silent, the inflatable beach balls were popped. This wasn’t how it was meant to end.

At 8.00 a.m. that morning we’d left Bournemouth in eager anticipation at seeing the mighty Cherries playing at the Theatre of Dreams. We’d a five-hour road trip ahead of us but it didn’t matter, Bournemouth were safe from relegation and we were going for an end of season party. Nothing could spoil our day, or so we thought!

The sun was shining in Manchester as we approached the ground just before 3.00 pm. From outside the ground all we could hear was the Bournemouth fans in full song, the stadium was ringing with, “We’ve got more fans than you”. It should have registered then that something was afoot as our fans should have been, outnumbered 20 to 1.

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We passed through the gates with security guards searching us, our tickets checked and only then were we permitted into the ground. After a quick pint we made our way out from the bowels of the stadium to our seats. Nothing could prepare us for the sight before us. The pitch was empty, no ground staff or player’s warming up, the North and East stands in front of us were completely empty, with not a soul in sight. Only the West stand contained any United fans and of course the 3,500 noisy Bournemouth fans in the away end. Something was wrong, very wrong!

secure-old-trafford-pic-2After a couple of minutes at our seats we noticed the arrival of sniffer dogs and security personnel scouring the other side of the stadium, which suggested something serious. However the regular communications over the tannoy system and with stewards close by keeping us updated as they got news, the fans felt assured they were in good hands.

When the announcement finally came that the game had been abandoned due to security concerns fans were efficiently ushered through the nearest exit and away from the stadium by the security personnel outside.

What Manchester United demonstrated on Sunday, was meticulous planning that had gone into dealing with a security breach. They had the reporting procedures in place, lines of communication open to ensure constant updates were available, resources in situ to manage developments at a local level and if needed, they knew how to quickly close down operations to avert a disaster. Whilst I was irritated spending nearly 11 hours in total travelling and not getting to watch the football, you had to wonder at the efficiency shown by Manchester United.

It begs the question, what processes, procedures, lines of communication and disaster planning does your business have in place to cater for a security breach. Can your company demonstrate Premier League standards to your customers? Does your organisation have the visibility it needs to know when there’s a problem and are your processes robust enough.

If you’re not sure, then the answer is probably no. This week we’re offering 10 free audits to assess whether your current file transfer strategies and technology is up to Premier League standards. So if you’d like to stay in the game, when all around you are trying to knock you off top spot, speak to one of our data security consultants today on 020 7118 9640.

Secure File Sharing at the Local Government Strategy Forum

Secure File Sharing at the Local Government Strategy Forum

Heythrop Park, April 12th – 13th

This month I attended my second Local Government Strategy Forum, at the beautiful Heythrop Park Resort in Oxfordshire. Invited by our partner Maytech, I was the ‘independent industry expert’ and had the pleasure of spending two days in this lovely environment, talking with senior management and C-suite executives from councils all around the UK.

heythrop-park

Before attending these events I had, what I believe to be a commonly held opinion, that council workers were underworked and overpaid. I’d read all the stories in the local press about the six-figure salaries and the cancellation of services to ensure their lavish lifestyle. However I’d never stopped to think what they actually did. Listening intently at these events has given me a small insight into the workings of councils, and whilst I’m sure there is still more efficiencies to be realised, I couldn’t have more admiration for the wide range of services they provide and the challenges they have prioritising them to balance the books.

The financial challenges being faced by councils has lead to them adopting a more business-like approach. They are looking at every aspect of their business to drive out wastage and streamline operations, and that’s where my expertise came in.

John Lynch, CEO, Maytech – presenting Quatrix on day one

Over the duration of two days I spoke with in excess of 50 delegates about their data sharing, collaboration, secure file transfer and business process automation challenges. Our experience in this area, working with council’s such as Cambridgeshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and most recently Mid-Sussex Council, ensured we already had a view on some of the challenges being faced for data sharing in the public sector.

As ever there’s not one technology, which addresses the wide range of data sharing requirements of councils, our council customers are using solutions from five of our suppliers. The service we provide is to help them to fully understand their requirements and then choose the right solutions for their needs and budget.

If your council or company needs to address its file sharing, collaboration and secure file transfer requirements why not download one of our free resources below:

What is Managed File Transfer?

Managed File Transfer Starter Pack

Comparison Guide

Building a Business Case for MFT

Our USA trip to visit file transfer vendors: Cleo & Ipswitch

Our USA trip to visit file transfer vendors: Cleo & Ipswitch

An insight into more than just product roadmaps

USA FlagLast week was my first trip to the USA, which is all the more surprising as almost all of our suppliers are based there.  The weather reports leading up to the trip had forecast a snow storm making its way up the East Coast, dumping three foot of snow on New York and closing down the city.  Fortunately, we flew into Chicago around the storm. It was still bitterly cold though; it didn’t get much above freezing whilst we were there and don’t get me started on the windchill factor!!

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 28

I was joined by my colleague Mark Allen, one of our senior technical consultants, as we visited two of our strategic vendors. Thankfully, Mark provided the technical insight and expertise leaving me to cover the subjects I’m more comfortable with; industry knowledge and business functions.

We met quite a lot of people in our week long trip. Literally everyone I spoke to was happy to take the time to talk to you, was interested and engaging. The customer service I experienced was outstanding, everywhere.  One hotel worker even gave us a lift to a local steakhouse; not the ‘hotel recommended’ option but a little joint down the road. Needless to say the ribeye was excellent. I think the UK could learn a thing or two here, and it’s certainly made me think differently about our own services.

Cleo File TransferThe week started at Cleo.  We’ve only been working with them for a year or two, but what a company. Their Cleo Integration Suite, provides companies with a common platform for all of their data integration requirements. Going further than just pure MFT, Cleo provides A2A, B2B, EDI, Secure Email, Collaboration and a High Speed Protocol for Big Data. The single instance aspect shouldn’t be underestimated and is a true differentiator for Cleo. Being able to audit and report on all data transfers into and out of the business through a single point is powerful and I’d have to say that Cleo is probably one of the strongest Enterprise offerings within our portfolio.

We spent some time at Cleo’s Sales Kick Off, learning about the upcoming product roadmap and gaining further insight into the current product offerings. Since Cleo was acquired in 2012, the company has made considerable progress. Not only has the software platform evolved from being predominately focused on EDI, but it is now a strong contender in many other areas. They’ve add to their development and support capabilities by opening up an office in Bangalore, enabling them to provide true follow the sun support. Cleo is going to be a vendor to watch in 2016 and beyond. No longer a follower but a serious player with an excellent product and increasingly strong offering.

Chicago winter stormWe left Chicago for Boston to visit Ipswitch, already a major player in the MFT space and a key vendor for Pro2col. We’d already met most of Ipswitch’s Executive team on their trips to Europe, but this was a chance to meet them on their own turf and get some deep insight into the product roadmaps for 2016 and beyond. The sessions proved to be very insightful.  A lot of what we saw was shared under Non-Disclosure, but I’d say the coming year is looking very interesting for Ipswitch. The addition of a further product to the file transfer portfolio will enhance their MOVEit offering further still and we also spent some time revisiting MessageWay, their Enterprise offering.

Ipswitch_Offices_Snow_CroppedWhilst in Boston, Ipswitch took the opportunity to draft me in to make a brief video for their Virtual Summit in March. Dial-in to find out what’s great and good about Ipswitch in 2016 and you may be lucky enough to see a video of yours truly telling potential partners how great Ipswitch are to work with.   There again, that might be reason enough not to check in!

My first trip to the USA was a resounding success, even though I suffered man-flu (a very serious strain) and it was so cold. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s no doubt we’ll be back later in the year to check in with a couple of our other strategic vendors, I just hope it’s a little warmer next time.

A Fantastic Year & A Mystery Christmas Hamper

This year has been one of significant change at Pro2col, I’m glad to say all for the better.

We’ve added three people to the team this year; two senior technical consultants, Mark Allen and Richard Auger, both of whom have considerable experience with managed file transfer (MFT) expertise. Mark joined us having spent time working with Ipswitch and spent the last 18 months consulting on MFT systems and Richard came all the way from Australia to join us having spent the last 12 years managing MFT systems for Philip Morris! Chantelle joined us to become our Office Manager and bring greater efficiency to the team.

 

mystery christmas hamper office

Richard, Michelle & Ailsa with the hamper outside the office.

After six long years in an office that wasn’t big enough we moved into a brand new, purpose built unit, two doors away in December. The team couldn’t be happier and it now means we’ve got room to accommodate customers and suppliers for meetings. Although it’s quite likely we’ll still head to the Captain’s Club overlooking the River Stour at Christchurch on a nice day.

It’s been a great year for business too. By adding to the team we’ve increased our capabilities exponentially, which has enabled us to work on some extremely interesting opportunities with some fantastic companies. All in all, as the owner of the company I couldn’t have asked for much more (except a Lotto win perhaps).

I’d like to put on record my thanks to my exceptional team who’ve helped to make this year such a special one in the evolution of the business. In addition I’d like to thank our suppliers who’ve helped us to drive significant growth this year. However, I have a question to my suppliers. Which one of you very generous people sent us a hamper with the following message?

“Thank you for all your support. We appreciate your business. Have a great holiday season and our best wishes for the New Year!”

After trying the tracking number and scouring the packaging, we’re still none the wiser who sent it to us. Whoever you are, thank you we’ll enjoy all the treats.

hamper

To all our customers, thank you for your business in 2015. We’re striving to improve our services again to you next year, and have some exciting announcements to make in the coming weeks.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.

James

Managed File Transfer in Action – Scenario #1

Managed File Transfer in Action – Scenario #1

Automatically Download Files Via SFTP, Delete & Notify

The cost to the business of not having data where you need it, when you need it, can be very significant. Downstream processes, whether automated or manual, that rely on data that isn’t available can’t run. At best it creates a bottleneck or in extreme scenarios processes stop completely, unable to proceed without the next set of instructions. In a simple scenario this could amount to a day of orders not processed or jobs not being allocated to drivers. The cost could run into the tens of thousands of pounds or more.

Real Life Use Case – Utilities Company

We have countless customers that use the automated collection of data feature of managed file transfer (MFT), but one springs to mind with an interesting use case. We implemented a MFT solution at a Utilities company to automatically pick files up from a council. The files were wayleaves, which provided confirmation whether they had been granted permission to access certain locations to repair water leaks. The process they had in place initially was manual and not always completed daily, resulting in site visits to repair leaks being delayed.

How Can Managed File Transfer Help?

Addressing this issue was a relatively easy process and can be achieved in the better MFT solutions available. In this instance we scheduled the automatic collection or download of the required files from the council servers via SFTP. The process would have looked something like this:

  • Log on to SFTP* server
  • Navigate to the correct folder defined by the path provided
  • Download only the files needed to a local file store
  • Delete them from the source
  • Notify someone of success or failure

*SFTP is more commonly used for this type of activity than FTPS, due to it being more firewall friendly and not needing certificates for the authentication process. In the example screen grab below you can see the typical options available for a standard automation task. Here, the task has been configured to log into an SFTP server and navigate to the folder from which to download the files. The other configurable options ensure that only files of the correct types, naming convention and age are downloaded.

The task is the configured to run on specific days and at certain times, downloading the files to a defined location then providing for a simple email notification message to be delivered (see below).