Strategic Managed File Transfer

Managed File Transfer is an important new tool in B2B integration, enhancing a traditional data-sharing mechanism with audit, enhanced security, and failed delivery functionality. But the benefits of MFT extend beyond the technical, also enhancing business processes.

As B2B partner networks grow increasingly integrated, so do B2B partner business processes; the need for increased partner collaboration and the accompanying need for increased visibility make MTF as much a strategic business imperative as a technical goal.

Industry analyst Derek Brink has summarized the strategic features of managed file transfers, as they affect business process integration:

•Visibility. In the film The Godfather, the point is made, “Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately,” Brinks writes. His point is that it is better to keep all parties in a B2B-integrated supply chain as up-to-the-minute as possible, in matters of delivery, inventory maintenance, information access, transaction verification, and other messages. MFT provides workflow to ensure this visibility, he points out.

•Reliability is essential to achieving this visibility, Brinks continues: assurance of file delivery, with confirmation, delivery failure options, and checkpointed process recovery, provide that reliability.

•Integration with existing infrastructure, easily achieved with MFT, encourages smooth business uptake of MFT enhancements, he concludes: to be able to integrate up-to-the-minute messaging and immediately monitor acceptance and response enhances partner confidence.

Finally, he points out that standardizing messaging around a robust and reliable platform leads to centralized messaging policies and administration on the business side.

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Growing Traffic Makes Control of File Transfer Essential

The transfer of unstructured data (files) between business partners is growing at a brisk pace. This opens the door for potential error, compliance issues, and confusion.

According to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, the number of end users requiring file transfer capability is growing rapidly, between 6% and 9% annually, as of 2013. The volume of file transfers per user is growing faster still, from 8% to 11% annually. Finally, the size of the average file to be transferred is also growing, from 6% to 7%.

The flip side is that IT staff to accommodate the increased traffic is not growing correspondingly.

A sensible solution for B2B partner companies needing to accommodate these increases is Managed File Transfer. MTF augments existing B2B data exchange mechanisms by off-loading the transfer of larger files to an independent mechanism, lessening resource consumption. It automates file transfers between B2B partners, incorporating detection and handling of transfer failures, which conventional file transfer does not; and it can authenticate users against AD/LDAP.

Industry uptake of MTF has been rapid, and it has taken up a permanent place in the B2B toolkit.

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The Most Concerning Security Threats to B2B Partners

What are the threats to B2B security that should concern integrated partners today? The B2B international consultancy conducted a global IT risks survey to determine the answers.

Security should always be on the B2B partnership radar, in this era of high-profile, Big Data breaches. Knowing where to concentrate attention and effort in shoring up security is a critical undertaking.

The IT risks survey, which incorporated almost 2,900 interviews of IT professionals in 24 countries, indicated that preventing breaches and protecting data are their top two concerns, and that both of these concerns have increased in importance since 2012.

One of the leading security challenges is the introduction of mobile, a business necessity for many supply chain participants, and BYOD in particular.

An alarming 35% of participants in the study indicated loss of business data as a result of external attack, and characterized the attacks overall as harder to detect. Another trend is threat to smaller businesses, which are less equipped to respond to security breaches in real time.

The study concluded that major issues have included underestimation of the increasing sophistication of malware, failure to implement adequate mobile device management, and management failure to properly assess the real risks and costs of breaches.

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