Supply Chain

Why You Should be Investing in Visibility and Governance for Managed File Transfer (MFT)

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This is the fourth post in our Managed File Transfer blog series. Read the previous post, “Digital Business is Accelerating and Changing the Business Environment: Managed File Transfer (MFT) Must Evolve to Meet the Challenge” here.

Demand for Managed File Transfer (MFT) solutions continues to grow as the most reliable and efficient means for secure, scalable and governable data transfer – evolving beyond FTP, HTTP and other methods.

Businesses today operate in a global and highly-connected environment with increasing demand for digital data exchange. For businesses to run, constantly emerging and evolving forms of data must be shared and managed.

FTP often works well with lower volumes of data and less complex data files – but simply doesn’t provide the scale, visibility and governability required for today’s digital business environment. The volume and size of data file transfers is growing at enormous rates. And the need for efficient exchange and governance of these business-critical data files is growing – as are the complexity of the requirements.

Business processes, depend on successful delivery of data files, particularly files being exchanged around critical business processes. These files must be delivered in a timely manner, including pre- and post-processing. Businesses also require greater visibility into the workflow of data files. Full end-to-end visibility allows the business to anticipate and quickly respond to file transfer delivery failures – and avoid missing Service Level Agreement (SLA) requirements. When data isn’t properly processed, that creates potential problems in delivering goods and services to the end customer, poses regulatory risks and hinders customer satisfaction.

Managed File Transfer (MFT) brings a level of security, visibility and governance to the movement of data files, both inside and outside the business, not achievable with FTP, HTTP and other methods.

Stakeholders from IT and Lines of Business (LOB), to external partners and customers, require effective visibility into data file transfer processes.

IT experts and support staff tasked with the day to day operations of infrastructure need the visibility to help prevent problems from happening and to quickly diagnose problems if they occur. Some problems can be particularly difficult to detect and require detailed technical knowledge of the connectivity, security, and other configuration aspects of infrastructure, particularly the aspects of an edge gateway used as a central entry and egress point for file transfer. Advanced MFT systems can provide the level of visibility needed to manage these issues.

Further, the success of data file transfers with external partners and customers is the lifeblood of most businesses, and any disruption or failure can be a significant and costly error. This makes key Line of Business (LOB) managers particularly interested in the governance and visibility into data file transfer.

Often, LOB users require a much less technical, business-oriented view into data file transfer workflows, so they can understand how those data file transfers are impacting their business services and performance. They need to be notified immediately of problems, and in a business-friendly manner.

This also includes IT staff reporting into business units and responsible for delivering specific business services that rely on success data file exchange with external partners and customers. These IT users have specific technical interest in the aspects of end-to-end data file transfer workflows that involve relaying files from the MFT gateway to business unit IT infrastructure – and then the direct integration of relayed files into back-end systems providing the business services.

This make visibility a critical capability of any file transfer process and system.

Beyond visibility, businesses, and particularly the IT or enterprise governance team, need assurances that ‘data in motion’ is meeting the organization’s policies for auditability and security.

This data file transfer or MFT governance must provide sufficient activity logging to meet auditor requirements. Logs need to be secured and available for various reporting requirement. Auditors also need to be able to document the configuration of MFT servers and components, as well as changes to configuration, to ensure compliance. This includes assurance against tampering with sensitive data entering or leaving the enterprise.

Finally, with the ongoing mandate that many businesses have in place to retire unsecured, unmanaged enterprise file transfer infrastructure, notably unmanaged FTP, visibility and governance capabilities must also be capable of supporting full enterprise MFT deployment. This may involve scaling the MFT infrastructure to hundreds or thousands of servers.

IBM recognizes these visibility and governance challenges – and has made significant new investments to address these requirements. Highlights of new or enhanced IBM Managed File transfer capabilities include:

  • IBM Control Center architecture re-designed with new modular, distributed components to support scaling at large organizations
  • IBM Control Center Web Console can be configured to create tailored views of displayed information, to support custom views for different stakeholders such as LOB or IT management
  • IBM Connect:Direct processes that use the Aspera FASP protocol via the new Connect:Direct High Speed add-on or IBM Secure proxy Aspera FASP bridging feature
  • IBM Control Center can now monitor IBM Secure Proxy components
  • IBM Control Center can now monitor servers involved in a IBM Global High Availability Mailbox deployment
  • IBM Control Center can now monitor an IBM Transformation Extender Advanced (ITXA) server environment
  • IBM Control Center now includes a new Configuration Changes Audit report, to centrally report on configuration changes made to monitored IBM Connect:Direct servers, IBM Secure Proxy or Control Center
  • The IBM Control Center Administration Web Console UI, now includes an interactive workspace tool that helps a system administrator or architect perform capacity planning or trend analysis

Combined, these investments in upgrading the visibility and governance for IBM Managed File Transfer give CTOs, CIOs and LOB managers greater confidence in MFT and greater capability to deliver against their objectives. To read more, check out our next post in the series, “8 Ways IBM is Advancing Automation and App Integration in MFT” or read our in-depth Managed File Transfer guide.



Senior Product Management, Watson Supply Chain

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