Five Managed File Transfer Experts Give Their Top File Transfer Automation Tips

Five Managed File Transfer Experts Give Their Top File Transfer Automation Tips

Managed File Transfer Automation Tips

In our last blog post, we revealed the major driver behind businesses implementing Managed File Transfer (MFT) was ‘improving productivity’.

Following on from this insight, we wanted to delve a little deeper into improved productivity, through file transfer automation. Rather than giving our opinion we thought you’d like to read the views of five industry leading, MFT vendors.

We asked five experts from JSCAPE, Coviant Software, Cleo, Globalscape and Ipswitch for their ‘Top three file transfer automation tips’.

Unsurprisingly our experts had diverse views on what they believed to be important about file transfer automation, but we didn’t expect quite the variety of answers we received.

 

Van Glass, CEO, JSCAPEVan Glass, CEO, JSCAPE

Simplify: Many legacy file transfer implementations are home grown solutions that have evolved into an ever growing number of disparate and undocumented scripts and processes. These scripts are often written in arcane programming languages and are difficult to maintain. This can be particularly troublesome in cases when the original authors leave the organization and this knowledge is lost. When automating file transfers it is important to try and centralize all file transfers under a single application that has a holistic view of all file transfer processes and does not require specialized programming knowledge.

Failures: It’s inevitable that some automated file transfers are going to fail. This can happen for a variety of reasons including invalid credentials, network connectivity issues or hardware failures. Regardless of the reason, it’s important that you be able to automatically respond to these failures in the most efficient way possible. Network connectivity issues are common but often short-lived, so rather than give up immediately, it is common practice to retry failed transfers with a certain wait period between each attempt. For example, you may configure your file transfers to retry up to 3 times with a wait period of 60 seconds between each retry. This gives the target server or network time to recover from the failure. Additionally, provided the protocol used supports it, retries should resume file transfers from the last byte successfully transferred instead of attempting to transfer the entire file in order to reduce bandwidth consumption and complete the transfer more quickly. This is especially important in very large file transfers of several GB or more. The ability to notify administrators via email or other means in the event of a hard failure is also key.

Track Results: Automating your file transfers is just one of the first steps in implementing a managed file transfer solution. Tracking the results of file transfers is equally important in that by doing so you gain improved visibility into your file transfers. This information will help you not only in troubleshooting failed file transfers but also in better understanding file transfer trends which can prove useful when scaling up hardware or network resources. The results of your file transfers should at a minimum be able to answer the following questions: Who initiated the file transfer? What is the path and size of the file transferred? Was the file transfer successful? When was the file transfer initiated and if successful when was it completed?

 

Pam Reid, CEO, Coviant SoftwarePam Reid, CEO, Coviant Software

While file transfer automation greatly reduces the number of file transfer errors, it cannot get rid of them altogether. File transfer errors can occur for many reasons – a network outage, a password or encryption key change that was not changed in the file automation application and many other issues. Unfortunately, when a file transfer automation application is deployed, business users may have the false expectation that file transfers will always be successful.

So, my three tips on how to live up to high business user expectations is to look for a solution that:

Reduces overall file transfer errors: For example, when transient errors occur, such as a network outage, jobs should automatically wait and retry the connection before failing the job.

Minimizes the time to diagnose and resolve errors: For example, look for a solution that sends all of the diagnostic information directly to an IT support email account, which enable IT support to identify and attempt to resolve the issue right away.

Gives IT support time to resolve errors before business users are notified: For example, assume a weekly payroll file is supposed to be ready for pick-up at 2pm on Thursday and must be delivered by 5pm. If the file transfer job runs at 2pm and does not find the file, the job should notify only IT support that the file is not ready – which gives IT support several hours to resolve the problem before business users are notified of a failure.

 

Joe Dupree, VP Marketing, CleoJoe Dupree, VP Marketing, Cleo

Manual workflow functions hold businesses hostage. MFT automation can make your organization faster and more nimble by:

Delivering at a greater scale: There is a growing need for file transfer solutions that address all types of data management and integration use cases. Automation eases deployment and operation. Even better, solutions that are agnostic to all data formats and transfer protocols provide more versatility. But in today’s business that’s not enough. Automated MFT needs to massively scale as more digitized business workflows require rapid movement of more data to parallel the movement of their business processes, team members, goods, and services.

Achieving high availability: Customers expect full uptime, but how do you get there? Can your solution automate failover, and can you implement it without a small army of consultants?

Onboarding faster: How long does it take to onboard one new trading partner? What if you need to add lots of new connections? Ditch the manual configuring with a solution that comes pre-loaded with 900 preconfigured connections to the world’s largest trading hubs. Choose a proven solution that streamlines operations by enabling faster onboarding.

Don’t get caught doing things manually while revenue awaits and productivity drains. An advanced and automated MFT solution enables greater operational efficiency.

 

Matt Goulet, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, GlobalscapeMatt Goulet, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Globalscape

Automation is an effective way to improve file transfer efficiency. Manual, intermittent batch processes are an unreliable method of data delivery because of limitations such as lack of staff, turnover, and human error. Below are just a few ways you can streamline the file transfer process.

Program Workflows: Create programmatic workflows that can be used to trigger events and actions based on specific conditions. From being aware of multiple invalid logins to processing and scanning all incoming files, being able to program workflows saves time and minimizes errors.

Streamline Business Processes: Automated workflow tools that are used with managed file transfer solutions can help optimize business processes, even when sophisticated and complex workflows are needed. MFT automation tools help administrators perform complex tasks and remove the possibility of human error.

Process Files with Added Security Measures: Antivirus scanners and Data Loss Prevention tools can permit or prevent file transfers based on your policies and help keep your network free of infected files, and can help comply with regulatory standards by preventing personally identifiable information from being transferred.

If you’re ready to simplify your file transfer process, automate with an MFT solution.

 

Paul Castiglione, Technical Marketer & Product Evangelist, IpswitchPaul Castiglione, Technical Marketer & Product Evangelist, Ipswitch

Do you find yourself spending too much time on manual tasks related to file transfer such as tracking lost files, reworking custom scripts, or creating audit trails? Automated file transfer can make your job a lot easier to do, while improving the IT team’s positive impact on the business. Here are three ways automating file transfer helps IT teams:

IT productivity improves. Many file transfers are initiated on a recurring basis. IT teams can get bogged down confirming transfers to meet service level agreements. The automation that comes with a managed file transfer (MFT) solution promptly pushes data to the right person at the right time. This means that the IT team doesn’t have to think twice and can remain focused on other tasks.

IT makes users happy. Automated, managed file transfer will help you find a new way to work with your end users—to give them an easy-to-use solution that integrates seamlessly with what they’re already using.

IT becomes compliant. The automation that comes through managed file transfer can identify an audit trail, and at a moment’s notice, provide a real-time status of the transfer. As a result, MFT helps the organization become more compliant, especially when it is integrated with security controls such as encryption and data loss prevention technology.

 

In conclusion, we can see that our experts have differing opinions on what are important considerations for file transfer automation. All of them are very valid and I’d suggest that you take into account as many as possible when considering a managed file transfer solution.

Of course, there are many solutions in the marketplace, all with their slight differences in features, benefits and total cost of ownership. If you’re considering implementing Managed File Transfer software to provide file transfer automation, or reviewing what you already have in place, then we’d be happy to help. You can speak to one of our friendly MFT experts by calling 0333 123 1240 or get in touch here.

 

The Top 8 Reasons Why Companies Buy Managed File Transfer Software

The Top 8 Reasons Why Companies Buy Managed File Transfer Software

Managed File Transfer solutions are becoming a crucial component of an organisation’s IT infrastructure. With large data breaches getting rapid exposure around the Internet, such as the recent exposure that 2.4 million of Carphone Warehouse’s customer’s details may have been stolen, having the right tools to secure data and provide a comprehensive audit of its access is imperative.

However if you thought that ensuring the security of business data was the most common reason that companies invested in Managed File Transfer software, you’d be wrong. According to an Aberdeen Group study, IT security was second only to increasing the productivity of the company buying it.

  • Reduce total cost 22%
  • Replace other delivery mechanisms 25%
  • Address audit deficiencies 25%
  • Industry standards and best practice 32%
  • Improve reliability 33%
  • Collaborate with trusted third parties 37%
  • Security-related incidents 39%
  • Improve productivity 65%

Source: Aberdeen Group 

# 8 – Reduced Total Cost

The total cost of a file transfer technology shouldn’t by any means measured by the cost of purchasing the software. The ancillary costs of managing, maintaining and supporting a solution can significantly out-weight the initial purchase price, depending upon the nature of the solution and over what term you’re measuring. Various solutions are very ‘professional services’ heavy resulting in high ongoing ‘management fees’. Of course there are those solutions that bring tears to your eyes at maintenance renewal time too!

 

# 7 – Replace Other Delivery Mechanisms

Quite frequently companies take with the approach to develop their own DIY file transfer systems. Building them in house can result in a bespoke solution, perfect for the company, however the cost of managing and maintaining them into the future, especially with the fluid nature of IT teams can prove challenging. An alternative scenario might be that they may have outgrown the incumbent solution making it not fit for purpose, an example being a simple FTP server not providing the visibility, guaranteed delivery and reporting required for mission critical business processes.

 

# 6 – Address Audit Deficiencies

Being proactive and ensuring regular audits of IT systems are imperative, whether delivered in-house or contracted in. Ensuring the right technologies are in place before the problem exists ALWAYS proves a cheaper option than a data breach.

 

# 5 – Industry Standards & Best Practice

Some form of industry standard or compliance affects an increasing number of businesses. Whether its PCI DSS, covering all credit card payments, HIPAA ensuring the security of sensitive healthcare data, SOX, GLBA, or the Data Protection Act there’s a good chance your company will need to comply. Added to that the information security standards that businesses set out to achieve off their own back such as ISO 27001, and its no surprise this makes it into the top 5.

 

# 4 – Improve Reliability

Number four has a direct correlation to a company’s financial well-being or its bottom line, thus making it easy for the business to justify the expense. Missed file transfers can cost a business dearly if payment runs are missed, orders are not processed or SLA’s are not hit. The direct costs can be significant and it quickly becomes a hot topic.

 

# 3 – Collaborate With Trusted Third Parties

Being able to communicate securely with customers and trading partners is the lifeblood for every organisation, although the requirements change from business to business the sentiment does not. No business is an island, and being able to securely exchange data in 2015 is mandatory. However it’s imperative to have the appropriate ‘secure data exchange’ technology in place, to be both effective and professional.

 

# 2 -Security Related Incidents

Lets be honest, security breaches are reasonably common although not always on the magnitude of those that create a media frenzy. Email attachments can be sent to the wrong location, consumer grade tools might be compromised, an FTP server might be incorrectly configured, the potential flash points are numerous. Not wanting to be the next Carphone Warehouse should be reason enough to warrant the investment in the a secure managed file transfer solution.

 

# 1 – Improve Productivity

It’s no surprise that this is the most common reason for companies to invest in managed file transfer software. Improved profitability is the goal of most organisations, improving productivity goes some way to helping to achieve that; driving costs down, reducing errors, speeding throughput and increased efficiency. Pro2col has worked on hundreds of projects where Managed File Transfer software has created significant savings and demonstrable ROI for companies. The requirements change from company to company meaning that no Managed File Transfer software fits all scenarios as they vary in complexity. Our range of solutions aid basic automation whilst others provide deep programmatic integration with other enterprise technologies. This is where the true value of an MFT solution is realised and our expert technical consultants have considerable experience to help with your managed file transfer project.   Share this article


  To find out which Managed File Transfer solution would best fit your company requirements, download our free comparison resource at the top of this page, or have a chat with our expert team on +44 (0) 207 118 9640.

Moving files, fast. Really fast!

Moving files, fast. Really fast!

FAST-FILES

Most of the companies that contact us do so looking for guidance on automating their file transfer. Automation is primarily for B2B and predominately involves using SFTP, a simple but typical example might be that an insurance company receives files from a bank and the files need to be moved to another internal system for processing. Of course there are usually a wide range of other complex processes that accompany it, but you get the idea.

Making files fast BIIn recent times however many of our conversation have gone along the lines of, “How can we move REALLY large files?” With the continuing explosion in data creation companies are having problems moving the large sets of data, many that are gigabytes in size.  All variations of FTP can deliver large volumes of data, but when you add in to the mix that it is in a far flung location and you’ve got a dodgy internet connection, suffering from latency and packet loss then FTP becomes pretty much ineffectual. Latency on the line, measured in round trip times (RTT), is a measure of how long it takes for a packet of data to get from point A to B and back again. We won’t go into the reasons in this blog, but suffice to say the longer the RTT the less efficient FTP becomes as can be seen in the graph here.

However all is not lost, there is an resolution to this data transfer problem. A select few vendors have built proprietary protocols based upon the open standard UDP to move data faster. A lot faster! Their protocols generally work the same way in that they maximise the utilisation of the bandwidth available to them by flooding the connection with data. Of course, controls are built in to ensure other network traffic doesn’t suffer. This approach can increase the speed by up to 1,000 times depending upon the network conditions and bandwidth available.

These UDP based solutions are now reaching a level of maturity enabling the software to be used in many scenarios, for example:

  • Disaster recovery and business continuity
  • Content distribution and collection, e.g., software or source code updates, or CDN scenarios
  • Continuous sync – near real time syncing for ‘active-active’ style HA
  • Supports master slave basic replication, but also more complex bi-directional sync and mesh scenarios
  • Person to person distribution of digital assets
  • Collaboration and exchange for geographically-distributed teams
  • File based review, approval and quality assurance workflows

Not only are files getting bigger but the environments within which they are implemented are evolving, the technologies with which they need to interface are changing too. Our expert team analyse complex requirements daily, providing companies of all shapes and sizes with solutions to their tricky file transfer conundrums. If your business needs to share large or sensitive data either in an automated of manual process, we can help. Contact one of our file transfer experts on +44 1202 433415 or get in touch via the web site.

A look back at 2014 and our predictions for 2015

A look back at 2014 and our predictions for 2015

predictions

Last year saw a year of stability in the Managed File Transfer industry. The stand out news item was the reputed $195m acquisition of Aspera by IBM, which is due to complete shortly, highlighting the increasing importance of the secure movement of Big Data. A few other vendors had board and senior management reshuffles as the increasingly mature marketplace meant new business was hard to come by. This inevitably meant that vendors focused more on their existing customers as support and maintenance renewals became more important.

I believe that 2015 will be an interesting year and my predictions are shaped by the maturity of the marketplace and which direction Managed File Transfer vendors decide to develop their platforms.

acquisition-dart Consolidation of Managed File Transfer Vendors

During 2015, I predict that we’ll see further consolidation. Managed File Transfer vendors will find growth difficult, even in light of an increasingly optimistic economy and as a consequence could become acquisition targets. Pure file transfer vendors with little or no interests in other technologies will be the most likely candidates, as their existing client base will be of interest to those vendors with a broader portfolio. The acquisitions of Rhinosoft by SolarWinds is a recent example.

Java PrintingBig Data in Managed File Transfer

The continued explosion of Big Data will result in more Managed File Transfer vendors adding UDP based delivery protocols to their solutions. The need for timely analysis of Big Data will mean that speed of delivery becomes a higher priority than previously and Managed File Transfer vendors will look to provide this capability to retain current customers and drive new business. IBM ultimately acquired Aspera not for its client base, but for its patented FASP delivery protocol to sell into its Enterprise clients.

file-syncEnterprise File Sync & Share and Managed File Transfer

Enterprise File Sync & Share (EFSS) is a really hot topic as businesses endeavour to address the needs of their employees. Managed File Transfer vendors have recognised this to be a market sector which continues to grow exponentially. The winners in 2015 will be those vendors that embrace building in a fully featured EFSS solution into their Managed File Transfer platform or those that enable integration with existing cloud based services such as Dropbox/Box, providing IT the visibility and auditing they require. Expect some interesting partnerships or more formal agreements between MFT and EFSS vendors during 2015.

microsoft-azure-logo-370x275The Cloud Becomes More Relevant

Previously, Managed File Transfer solutions have predominately been on premises installations with little to no interest in the cloud. I believe this will change significantly during 2015, with the continued explosion of services that run in cloud infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM Bluemix. Managed File Transfer solutions will need to integrate with these cloud services to enable the seamless movement of data into and out of them.

Biggest UK Fines By The ICO in 2014

Biggest UK Fines By The ICO in 2014

fines
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) is a government body set up to regulate those organisations which handle personally identifiable data. Retaining a register of companies and their nominated data handler ensures that the ICO can follow up on any reported data leaks or mishandling of data.

The ICO has the ability to serve a company with an undertaking, prosecution, enforcement notice or a monetary penalty. None of these are good for business or for the individual involved, especially as all details are available in the public domain. In the past 12 months, the ICO took action on 88 individuals or companies. Below is a list of the worst performing businesses and the fines levied.

 

British Pregnancy Advice Service £200,000 – 7 Marchico-logo-blue-grey
Kent Police £100,000 – 19 March
Amber Windows £50,000 – 3 April
Think W3 Limited £150,000 – 23 July
Reactiv Media Limited £50,000 – 28 July
Ministry of Justice £180,000 – 26 August
EMC Advisory Services Limited £70,000 – 1 October
Worldview Limited £7,500 – 5 November
Parklife Weekender £70,000 – 5 December
Kwik Fix Plumbers Ltd £90,000 – 22 December

 

Not all of these cases were data breaches, but data had been misused or not protected sufficiently to comply with current legislation by the company or individuals involved. Without the correct processes and policies in place or tools for the job, employees can easily make simple decisions that can put personally identifiable data at risk.

Implementing the right Managed File Transfer or Enterprise File Sync & Share solutions for your organisation need not be difficult and can be a key component of your data security plan. With our assistance we can help you move this up your priority stack assisting with needs analysis through to implementation, helping you comply with regulations such as the Data Protection Act or PCI DSS.

Pro2col’s friendly team of experts have over 15 years experience in keeping data secure in transit and at rest so why not give them a call on +44 (0) 333 123 1240 or contact us via our web site here.

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