Top 5 File Transfer Headaches

Enterprise data is undergoing exponential expansion

Mark Mulcahy – Waterford Technologies

As noted by Aberdeen analyst Derek Brink in his report “Secure/Managed File Transfer: Why You Should be Looking More Closely Right Now” (published in August 2011), enterprise data is undergoing exponential expansion in terms of volume, File Transferproliferation of formats, and the speed at which it flows in and out of the organization. Additionally, Forrester analyst Ken Vollmer discussed the rapid growth of the managed file  transfer market, illuminating the shortfalls of traditional technologies in his report “Market Overview: Managed File Transfer Solutions.” Managers and auditors are making priority of better security and improved governance of information that leaves the organization.

This growth is exactly why companies are experiencing their own headaches when transferring files; most organizations are not properly equipped to scale at such a rapid pace. Mismanaging file transfers can also create security and audit issues, require additional manpower spent troubleshooting and provisioning file transfers, result in non-delivery of key business materials, and create dissatisfaction among customers and business partners—not to mention, increasing costs. These are pains most organizations want to avoid.

The top five file transfer headaches are the following:

  1. Our organization needs to secure file transfers, both internally and externally: IT departments must comply with their organizations’ security policies, as well as those of customers and business partners, to ensure that file transfers are safe and secure. But heavy-handed security policies will drive employees—both end users and IT team members—to look for ways around security controls to get their jobs done in a more efficient manner. Ultimately, this exposes an organization’s information and systems to greater risk.
  2. The email attachment is too big: Many documents are transferred through email. Not only is the file unsecure, but there is no way to ensure that the file made it through your email and into your intended target’s inbox. And because images and videos are also shared electronically, these large files can clog up a recipient’s inbox. In addition, large attachments can be transferred through FTP or another homegrown solution. The same pains arise, however. There is no way to ensure your intended target received your file and that it’s secure.
  3. The IT staff spends too much time managing file transfers: Whether it is managing file transfer scripts or helping users with full inboxes, the helpdesk and IT staff can spend a lot of time on file transfers, including enabling access, granting higher data limits and cleaning up drop boxes. A consistent, user-friendly and streamlined approach is needed for transferring files.
  4. Our customer knew the file transfer failed before we did: In the client service industry, companies are expected to deliver materials in a timely manner. When a customer notices that a file did not make it before the delivering organization notices, tension and questions about reliability can be the result, especially in situations involving tight deadlines or high security. Additionally, FTP home-grown file transfer solutions offer no alerts to indicate that a file did not reach its intended destination.
  5. We have too many different file transfer solutions; this drives a lack of consistency and visibility across our organization: Typically, organizations that are juggling multiple file transfer solutions do so primarily because of a lack of established standards for file transfer. This leads to the proliferation of uncontrolled and unapproved file transfers, with departments and individuals taking it upon themselves to procure and implement their own solutions. Beyond the inefficiency and increased costs inherent in this approach, it raises security concerns around the unregulated movement of sensitive documents with no centralized visibility into that movement.

If these headaches sound familiar, you’ll want relief. Look for a managed file transfer solution that can streamline the file transfer process across the entire organization, that allows the transfer of any size file and that delivers files securely. The challenge is that because dozens of solutions are available, it’s difficult to select the right solution for your business. When evaluating solutions, consider consolidation, governance and compliance, and simpler application integration. FTP is an inexpensive way to transfer files, photos and video clips, but it is not a secure and scalable long-term solution.

Managed file transfer (MFT) has a higher initial cost than many “free” solutions, but an upfront investment can pay off in the long term. Selecting the right solution will reduce operational capital expenses through labour efficiency and consolidation of file transfer infrastructure. You should also determine whether your organization is in compliance with corporate or industry standards for securing files. You’ll want a solution that can facilitate compliance by managing sensitive files moving within your organization. You can also minimize future expenses by integrating applications to increase overall company efficiency.