Greg has worked in leadership roles within IT for over 20 years. As CEO of Coviant Software, he has up to date insights of real-world day-to-day file transfer challenges faced by organisations in 2020 and beyond.
We caught up with Greg and asked him to share some of his insight into the current file transfer landscape, which makes for interesting reading for anyone interested in their options for file transfer.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for organisations automating file transfers in 2020?
We see more and more companies transitioning to the Cloud, leading to various challenges. Many customers transition to the Cloud in phases, meaning that on-prem and Cloud resources must interact properly, putting a lot of pressure on the file transfer systems such as networking and security. For others, it is simply the sheer effort of migrating a vast number of processes to new systems and ensuring they are operational.
Another challenge is the ever-present threat of malicious actors evolving their techniques for data breaches. Whether it is exploiting vulnerabilities in protocol implementations, or clever social engineering adaptations, the world of file transfer automation needs to always keep abreast of security developments and endeavor to stay one step ahead of those bad actors.
What are the main benefits of using a specialist software like Diplomat MFT over simple scripting?
Reliability, Risk, and Cost.
Humans make mistakes. Or they get sick. Or they get sacked, or decide to leave. This means that relying upon humans to perform tasks – whether it is performing the file transfers manually, or writing scripts to do the transfers – inevitably becomes unreliable. Missing a file transfer might not sound like such a big deal, unless it happens to be the payroll file, or the failure results in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) penalty that carries fines with it.
This presents a risk. So companies that assess risk will place appropriate value on automating with a purpose-built tool rather than relying upon a human resource or custom script development to reduce risk of errors, missed SLAs, and data loss due to these human mistakes.
Cost: custom scripts are difficult to write well. And they require constant maintenance to handle new situations or technical challenges that the business throws at them. A solution like Diplomat MFT has over 15 years of experience focused on automating secure file transfers — undoubtedly a LOT more than the team writing custom scripts. And we offer best-in-class customer service to assist with any problems that arise.
Not only do scripts have a hard cost of development and maintenance, but also an opportunity cost for those resources writing the scripts. Are there other things that those employees could be doing to help your organization? Is their time best spent understanding the nuances of SFTP connectivity issues, or helping your departments with your business-specific challenges? Could your time and money be better spent elsewhere?
With so many organisations migrating to the cloud, how does this impact on the requirement for data transfer?
When any given company achieves 100% cloud-based tenancy, the data transfer needs will be little different from what they have prior to moving to the cloud.
It is just a different location for their systems and data; however, until a company reaches that milestone – and very few actually do! – there will be systems both in the Cloud and within some on-premises location (or specific data center). This might be file servers, mainframe/legacy systems, intranet servers, custom business applications, or simply employee workstations.
When customers are within this “hybrid” environment of some systems on-premises and some in the Cloud, it increases inter-connectivity requirements to make the right data available to the various systems. Customers need to synchronize or replicate data between on-premises and Cloud; or choose a new storage strategy (like S3 buckets, or Cloud based block storage) so that all systems can interact as necessary.
What are some of the more interesting use cases you’ve encountered for Diplomat MFT?
We have numerous healthcare companies that automate a surprising number of transfers – well over 10,000 jobs that run numerous times throughout the day. It is quite interesting to see how much data is generated and transferred to suppliers, partners, vendors, and state agencies for these large healthcare organizations. And quite rewarding to see how well Diplomat MFT automates these mission critical transfers for them.
What features have you added most recently?
I am pleased to have added Slack and Teams notifications to supplement our existing email notifications of job statuses. The global pandemic has seen an dramatic increase in the use of these wonderful messaging tools, and many organizations are learning how they can be used not just as human-to-human chat tools, but also as notification channels for various systems.
Another great recent addition is the expansion of our Amazon S3 storage connector so that it can also transfer files to/from any S3 API compatible storage system. This includes some very interesting cloud vendors like Wasabi and Backblaze; on-premises solutions like Minio, Ceph, Cloudian. and Carringo; and hybrid solutions like Scality.
We are always evolving the security and data transfer capabilities “behind the scenes” to ensure that customers get the best performance and security possible.
Are there any new features you plan to add to Diplomat you can share with us?
We are hard at work at a web interface for our solution, so that customers can more easily manage and monitor the solution. Rather than installing and using a thick client to access the server administration, users can simply fire up their browser.
What would be your advice to someone evaluating a solution for automated file transfer?
Carefully consider the business workflows for which you are looking to automate and secure file transfers. Look for a tool that is easy to use, and that can automate those file transfer workflows efficiently and effectively, without a lot of steps to achieve the desired result. And finally, pay attention to both the cost of the potential solutions and their record of customer support (ask for a reference!) so that you can be sure you are getting a good value while also being well supported.