By Cassandra Balentine
An organization’s digital transformation includes many components. Managed file transfer is one area to consider. This is due to the fact that more data is being handled and moved throughout an organization.
According to a recent study by Research and Markets, the global managed file transfer market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over six percent from 2017 to 2025.
“Managed file transfer services play a vital part in digital transformation of any organization. It is one of the bread and butter application that every organization should have independent of its size, industry vertical, or geography,” says Venkat Ramasamy. COO, CodeLathe.
Need for Agile Data
With an increased need for data, and growing reliance on the cloud, the file transfer process is an essential component of a modern enterprise. There are many was to transfer large files over different types of networks including FTP, email, messaging services, network file system, or dedicated file transfer service. Like most modern technology solutions—file transfer increasingly relies on the cloud.
Yann Guernion, product marketing manager, CA Technologies, says the digital transformation trend creates more data that’s in motion—Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), big data—are additional layers on top of the legacy IT that are increasing the need to be able to efficiently and securely move data and workloads across technologies.
“Managed file transfer as an area of technology was conceived to enable intercompany collaboration in order to allow secure and confirmed information sharing with parties external to the company,” says Charles Foley, SVP, Talon Storage. However, he points out that emerging technologies—company collaboration issues have resulted from the geographical dynamics that come from being a global enterprise. “This is because as the digital transformation age fostered a decentralized model with employees working anywhere and everywhere, significant challenges emerged for traditional information repositories—such as file servers—and managed file transfer was a quick, easy fix.”
Foley says using consumer-grade tools for managed file transfer in order to share data with peers, team members, etc. “While this allows quick exchange of information, it can come at the risk of security/audit, and data coherency. The result is that sometimes the application of a good technology in the wrong way can cause as many issues as it can fix.”
Managed file transfer is a valuable tool for external collaboration and will continue to be enhanced with tools such as rights management, block chain ledgers, etc. to increase security and accountability when working with these external partners, according to Foley.
For internal company information exchange, newer technologies in the software-defined and cloud storage areas are normally a better fit for information repositories, exchange, and collaboration. “Although the audience is globally distributed, they still all fall under the security and management domain of a single enterprise—and should be governed by the existing infrastructure for security and audit. This has given rise to a seemingly aligned but very different area of technology, cloud storage consolidation (CSC). With CSC, a global enterprise treats the cloud as the enterprise file server—with all users having access to the very same file shares/folders according to their approved role-based access, which is a boon for the enterprise. Face it, there’s no reason to engage as service to move a file if all valid users can simply see/access it directly regardless of where they are, that’s the role of CSC,” says Foley.
Drivers and Challenges
The push towards digital transformation is a major driver for managed file transfer services.
The gradual disappearance of traditional organization boundaries—like physical offices, network, and firewalls— and rise of remote workplaces are primary drivers of managed file transfer. “Now work happens everywhere—in homes, trains, coffee shops, and co-working places. Global companies have employees who live and work in different parts of the world. Employees, partners, and customers expect to have instance access to the information needed to get their work done. Managed file transfer services addresses the main requirement of instant information sharing without compromising security,” offers Ramasamy.
Guernion says IT organizations need to enhance their level of control on data and ensure they can handle increasing volumes while preserving information consistency and compliance. “This is why managed file transfer tools are still a major concern of IT operations, especially with new regulations such as GDPR that require appropriate traceability.”
Managed file transfer and CSC both have the benefit of better, secure information flow in a distributed world. They do have different drivers; however, Foley suggests the drivers for managed file transfer resolve around the ability to communicate richer information with people that aren’t governed by the security parameters and covenants of the company. “If you can share richer information with your partners, consultants, and advisors, the promise is of better results, faster. The key is to ensure that you don’t expose more information than necessary,” says Foley.
There are challenges associated with managed file transfer as well.
Guernion points out that every chain is only as strong as the weakest link. “This is especially true for processes that span multiple systems, applications, and clouds. In this case, the weak links are the manual handoffs and disparate file transfer solutions which in many cases are a by-product of different partner requirements or legacy technical limitations.”
Managed file transfer businesses are infrastructure-heavy businesses; they have to be able to receive, store, and dispatch potentially large amounts of information—if they are successful. “Further, they can be highly-scrutinized businesses, as they are normally handling/forwarding sensitive information that could fall under a plethora of regulatory oversight, from HIPPA to GDPR,” says Foley.
Ramasamy believes that the main challenges are data security and governance, as companies operate across countries and data transfer services need to be compliant with different data privacy regulations like GDPR, PIPEDA, and many more. “Lax security of sensitive business data can also expose your organization to financial, reputation and business loss. Organizations need to identify managed transfer services that facilitate easy information sharing without compromising the security and data governance requirements.”
Evolution and Trends
Managed file transfer solutions have seen a convergence with IT automation solutions and workload automation.
“The main goal is to ensure coordination at scale for all file transfers, whether internal or external, with enterprise processes,” points out Guernion. Adding intelligence to error management enables auto-remediation and escalations in the context of business activities. File transfers must remain an integral part of business processes, not an isolated instance of automation managed file transfer were around size—how to send a big file to someone in a way that it could get through the network pipes. Compression and streaming protocols were the key challenges. Foley says those areas of technology became fairly mature, and the next area of challenge was security. This has become a well adopted technology set in networks private and public, leading to the next set of challenges involving rights management and audit capability.
One trend is compliance. “With the advent of GDPR, increasing scrutiny is being applied to any potentially sensitive data, which might leave the enterprise domain. This leads to significant investment in infrastructure, technology, and expertise to be able to meet the bar for transporting sensitive data on someone else’s behalf,” he says.
Ramasamy agrees, noting that one big trend is the rise of data privacy regulations. “Many countries now realize the importance of information privacy and bringing new data privacy laws that are modeled after GDPR. Typically these regulations enforce tough penalties for data leaks and reckless sharing of PII, PHI, and PHI. Managed transfer services need to address the needs of these evolving regulations. For instance, these systems can warn the users before sharing any sensitive or PII information to others.”
Guernion says near-real time execution and direct integration into the business process logic is an emerging trend. For years, file transfers ran in isolation as a batch, meaning they were time driven instead of business event driven. “This meant in the past, your only concern was that your file transfers would start on time and finish within the limits of the given timeframe. Today, your data flows need to be continuous, from the producer to the consumer application or service. It becomes essential to be able to dynamically trigger and monitor your file transfers as part of a broader process that interacts in real time with your business applications.”
Traditionally managed file tranfer services are offered on-premise. Now Ramasamy points out that some of the deployments are moving to cloud. “We don’t advocate one approach is better than the other. Each organization needs to evaluate their own requirements against the deployment choices and choose the option that is optimal for them. For instance sensitive and highly regulated data can be better off stored on-premise rather than cloud, while cloud is suitable for sharing frequent, non-essential data,” he suggests.
A variety of solutions are available to help organizations with managed file transfer services. Here we highlight a few.
Axway presents the AMPLIFY Managed File Transfer, which allows users to create a Digital Managed File Transfer Shared Service to securely enable broader consumption of managed file transfer services through APIs.
BMC Software’s Control-M Managed File Transfer enables securely automated internal and external file transfers from a central interface, integrating with other applications and activities, to increase convenience, visibility, and control.
CA Technologies features CA Automic Managed File Transfer. It integrates file transfer into process workflows, eliminating the need to maintain separate systems for job scheduling and data transfer. The solution enables businesses to transfer any file type between different systems, from mainframe to cloud, initiate transfers in a variety of ways, and improve performance by compressing files. The solution process also includes extensive safeguards against using outdated data and allows event correlation for intelligent error detection and remediation.
FileCloud by CodeLathe is a cloud-agnostic enterprise file sharing service that offers easy file sharing, powerful data security, protection and governance in one package. FileCloud is available on on-premise as well as a cloud service. Organizations can choose to deploy FileCloud on their private data center or use the service offered from our cloud infrastructure depending on their requirements.
GlobalSCAPE, Inc. offeres its Enhanced File Transfer managed platform. EFT version 7 introduces next-generation features, including support for active-active high availability architectures, expanded PCI DSS version 3.0 facilitation, and a greatly enhanced Web Transfer Client leveraging HTML5 technology.
IBM offers several managed file transfer solutions, including Connect:Direct, a file transfer service, file gateway, Partner Engagement Manager, secure proxy, and Control Center.
Oracle Managed File Transfer—Oracle MFT—enables secure file exchange and management with internal departments and external partners. It protects against inadvertent access to unsecured files at every step in the end-to-end transfer of files. It is easy to use especially for non-technical staff to leverage more resources to manage the transfer of files. The built in extensive reporting capabilities allow quick status of a file transfer and resubmit as required.
Signiant’s intelligent file movement software helps the world’s top content creators and distributors ensure fast, secure delivery of large files over public and private networks. Built on Signiant’s patented technology, the company’s on-premises software and SaaS solutions move petabytes of high-value data every day between users, applications, and systems with proven ease.
For enterprises seeking a superior managed file transfer solution, Software AG offers webMethods ActiveTransfer, a secure and reliable alternative to FTP and other dated protocols. webMethods ActiveTransfer is a managed file transfer solution that enables you to exchange files of any size—even big data files—up to 25 times faster than other solutions. It sends a large files quickly over long distances, centrally manages file transfers, set up transfer schedules, and securely exchange files using the latest security and encryption techniques. Software AG’s managed file transfer solution offers tight B2B integration, bringing together B2B, application support and Managed File Transfer in one service-oriented platform. ActiveTransfer includes support for multiple protocols, proxy and reverse proxy, and file streaming. Role-based access helps to increased security while centralized monitoring and administration simplifies management and reduces costs.
Swift File Transfer offers a high file transfer rate, multi select, non sign up or log in, and interactive UI.
Talon Storage offers Talon FAST, which allows organizations to create a data fabric between global locations in which all users see a common global namespace, which presents a central, authoritative copy of data. Regardless of where in the world users are, enterprise security controls are honored and enforced. Foley says although data is stored, managed, and locked in a central location, often used data bits pertinent to the file access patterns of any given location are cached locally for rapid access, which allows even centrally stored/managed files to be served up locally to global users upon request. Any edits/updates to these files are differenced back to the open, authoritative copy prior to save/close, obviating the need to write the entire file back over the global network, which results in minimal network/performance impact. The result is a streamlined global infrastructure, up to 70 percent less cost of storage management, reduced risk of data loss/breach/compliance issues, and a more agile enterprise.
Wipro offers its B2Bi managed file transfer solution, designed to bring simplicity, visibility, security, and auditability to file transfers, ending the problems associated with maintaining and paying for heterogeneous systems. The service secures files in motion and at rest using encryption for compliance. Clients also benefit from the low CAPX requirements, reduced effort in handling large files, and can deploy the service in even low bandwidth, high latency systems.
Managed File Transfer Needs
As many organizations continue their digital transformations strategies, the ability to move data internally and externally is critical. Therefore, it is essential to have a trustworthy managed file transfer solution in place for file exchange and management.
Jul2018, Software Magazine