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

One of the biggest driving factors behind businesses implementing Managed File Transfer (MFT) is to ‘improve productivity’ and one of the biggest ways in which MFT can improve productivity is through File Transfer Automation.

So we decided to ask six file transfer experts from Cleo, Coviant Software, Globalscape, Ipswitch, JSCAPE and South River Technologies for their ‘Top three file automation tips.’ Unsurprisingly our experts had diverse views on what they believed to be important about file transfer automation, but we didn’t quite expect the variety of answers we received.

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.”

Pam Reid, CEO, Coviant Software

Pam Reid, CEO, Coviant Software

“When a file transfer automation application is deployed, business users may have the false expectation that file transfers will always be successful. File transfer automation does greatly reduce the number of file transfer errors, but it cannot eliminate them altogether. File transfer errors occur for many reasons – network outages, locked files, a new password or encryption key that was not updated in the file transfer automation application and many other issues.

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

Reduces overall file transfer errors. When transient errors occur, such as a network outage or a locked file, jobs should automatically wait and retry the connection before failing the job.

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

Gives IT support time to resolve errors before business users are notified.  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.”

Matt Goulet, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Globalscape

Matt Goulet, CEO, 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.”

Kevin Conkin, VP of Product Marketing, 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.”

Van Glass, CEO, JSCAPE

Van 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?”

Michael Ryan, CEO, South River Technologies

“For a Managed File Transfer implementation to be successful and truly improve productivity, it must consider both automated transfers and user initiated transfers.  Both aspects should be balanced, while also considering security implications.

Easy User Access.  Make sure that your Managed File Transfer solution makes it easy for users to access and collaborate on files.  If there are additional security steps that users have to perform, they may work around the security measures.  Security should be invisible to users, who need to focus on accomplishing their work.

Integration capability.  It’s important to consider solutions that will easily integrate with both existing corporate applications, as well as desktop user applications.  This extends your investment in existing technologies and reduces the training requirements for your MFT implementation.

Provide optimal performance.  Load balancing and automated failover are key requirements for performance and high availability, but also consider the server architecture.  Native 64-bit applications take full advantage of the resources of each individual server, which makes a load-balanced implementation even more effective in achieving high throughput and performance.”

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.

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