The Challenge of Onboarding (Pt. 1)

Ulf Persson, Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, Axway

The Unexpected

by Paul French
VP, Product & Solutions Marketing
Axway

I recently met with some folks from an industry-leading financial services organization that’s a customer of Axway’s as well as a customer of several other prominent managed file transfer vendors. The question they asked (and I hear it all the time) is this: “How do I stop being a customer of multiple vendors?”

They never expected this to happen. They never expected to buy one or two items from multiple vendors.

But when they acquired a division of another leading financial services company, the unexpected happened.

The newly acquired division had a point solution that one small group within the division had purchased to fix an immediate problem. The group had to have their solution right now. They didn’t want to spend time figuring out how to fix an immediate problem using the standardized system their company already had in service.

The next thing the company knew, they were running several solutions from several different vendors, and nothing was running particularly well.

How did they resolve this issue? They adopted a cost-effective, highly available and highly reliable solution that they could standardize on, and the results were tremendous.

They learned the hard way that file transfer is no longer the simplicity of moving a file from one point to another. It’s providing a reliable, telecommunication-like, dial-tone service that we take for granted. And we should take it for granted, too, because it’s not that hard to move a file.

What’s really hard is to provide governance, visibility, security and incremental managements that allow you to get things deployed in a hurry so that you don’t have to go back to the days when somebody needed something and they didn’t trust your organization to deliver, so they just went off and did it themselves.

The vision of a true centralized service that provides file movements is here. If you make an investment in best practices and a tool set that provides for all the appropriate interaction patterns—system-to-system for the back end, B2B, and H2H for unplanned processes (i.e., unplanned file movements)—your files can be delivered effectively. You won’t have to ask yourself how your company can stop being a customer of multiple vendors anymore than you would have to ask yourself how your household can stop being a customer of multiple electrical appliance brands. You’ll have the infrastructure for the former just as you already have wall sockets for the latter.

There’s More to Life Than Saving Money

by Antoine Rizk
VP, B2B Program, Product and Solutions Marketing
Axway

New requirements constantly emerge for additional standards that are not yet supported (e.g., new networks, protocols, formats, etc.). Infrastructures that are too rigid simply break like the tall oak in the wind and need to be replaced.

New requirements constantly emerge for additional standards that are not yet supported (e.g., new networks, protocols, formats, etc.). Infrastructures that are too rigid simply break like the tall oak in the wind and need to be replaced.

Back in December 2008, a leading analyst predicted that, due to the then-burgeoning, now-stabilizing financial crisis, the major business case for many application and infrastructure initiatives was going to align with cost reduction.

And they were right. Nearly every customer I’ve spoken to corroborates the analyst’s prediction. But I submit that there’s more to life than saving money, even in lean times like these. So what, you may wonder, are those things, those compelling drivers for B2B/MFT projects besides getting things done on the cheap?

Five stand out to me.

  • Compliance: You must have the right auditing and logging information to comply with industrial, financial or legal obligations. In a way, you might see this as a continuation of the saving-money school of thought. After all, preventing fines and lawsuits is a money-saving activity, right? But there is a vast difference between spending too much on something and any amount on nothing, which is never an easy circumstance to accept.
  • Business Growth: Business growth often drives architecture refreshes, and rightly so: when the existing solution cannot efficiently handle the demands of the business, when the business outgrows its architecture to the point that no amount of ingenuity or reorganization can accommodate it, it can no longer cope with the demands of its trading partner community.
  • Business Risk and Loss of Data: When your current processes lack the control you need for guaranteed, once-only delivery, the result is a story of misfortune: missed SLAs, multiple payments made, orders lost, etc. And all of this directly impacts the bottom line.
  • Personnel Rollover: Developers of legacy, home-grown FTP solutions, like long-gone inhabitants of ancient civilizations, move on to new opportunities, and in their wake they leave behind little or no documentation on the tools and mission-critical data that their successors need in order to keep operations running smoothly.
  • Expanding Requirements: New requirements constantly emerge for additional standards that are not yet supported (e.g., new networks, protocols, formats, etc.). Infrastructures that are too rigid simply break like the tall oak in the wind and need to be replaced.

In my view, none of the above drivers are compelling enough in their own right to bring about a new infrastructure initiative without thorough proof of accompanying TCO reduction and ROI. This truth cannot be stressed enough.

Fortunately, reducing TCO can be done in many different ways. Consolidation, however, is by far the approach that brings the most value. B2B/MFT consolidation can be achieved by replacing multiple legacy and home-grown solutions with a single solution that is solid enough to maintain and even enhance performance, and covers all the required formats and protocols for the exchanges.

Consolidation can cover a variety of business cases:

  • Replacing on-premise FTP/home-grown file transfer infrastructure with a managed file transfer solution
  • Replacing on-premise product with a managed file transfer solution
  • Replacing several on premise multi-enterprise/B2B gateways with a single B2Bi platform
  • Replacing a VAN with an on-premise B2Bi solution
  • Replacing on-premise B2B gateway(s) with a B2Bi on-demand solution

As well as any combination of the above.

Finally, there is the ever-important ROI. Three ways consolidation brings you ROI include:

  • Reducing your IT costs: This includes personnel, planning, organization, acquisition, implementation, delivery and support, as well as monitoring/evaluation costs.
  • Reducing your business costs: This includes costs due to an error or a delay in message/file delivery, downtime hours, fees and penalties per missed SLA, audits, losing customers and data breach penalties.
  • Increasing your business value: This includes incremental revenues due to getting new products to market faster, being easy to do business with, reliable delivery and non-repudiation, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and being able to add new partners to your network.

When you increase business value, you increase your revenues and quickly bring better services to market. Your suppliers and customers can deal with you easily, and that brings about customer fidelity, satisfaction, loyalty and a host of other benefits too numerous to explore here. It’s easy and vitally important to take measures to save money, no doubt about it, but it’s the truly savvy business people who remember the essential nature of nourishing and flourishing business value, and it’s those business people who will, years from now, look for new ways to save money while their long-gone competitors fondly remember the business they were once in.

(Photo by zenera: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenera/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Three Reasons Infrastructure Consolidation Yields Unparalleled IT Savings

by Bernard Manouvrier
Chief Architect
Axway

infrastructure consolidation creates a marked reduction in complexity, which minimizes the number of errors committed by both humans and machines alike, and accommodates staff without demanding a steep learning curve, which translates into minimized training costs.

Infrastructure consolidation creates a marked reduction in complexity, which minimizes the number of errors committed by both humans and machines alike.

I’m often asked by IT directors and IT professionals in general, “What can I do to save money in my department?”

It’s a simple question, but a particularly important one for IT, because while other departments have opportunities to both earn and save money, IT is generally relegated to the unenviable position of appearing to be an expensive tool for the money earners, to only cost a company money, to only earn money for the company indirectly at best.

Unfair? Absolutely. But true. Yet there are initiatives IT can carry out to compensate for this inequity. And of these initiatives, few, if any, conserve precious resources and minimize the demands put on IT’s time like a consolidated infrastructure.

Here are three ways it does this.

First, infrastructure consolidation reduces direct costs in several important areas, which leads to a veritable chain reaction in savings, a dramatic staunching of the outflow of cash. The IT department requires less hardware when the infrastructure is consolidated, and therefore requires fewer software licenses. This yields a leaner network, which means fewer personnel are required to keep the network in order, and fewer managers are required to keep the personnel in order! The windfall of savings couldn’t be easier to imagine.

Next, infrastructure consolidation reduces risks and the resulting costs incurred when risks escalate into catastrophes. This is because infrastructure consolidation creates a marked reduction in complexity, which minimizes the number of errors committed by both humans and machines alike, and accommodates staff without demanding a steep learning curve, which translates into minimized training costs.

Finally, change management could not be more accommodated by a consolidated infrastructure. Do you want to re-engineer your processes and applications? A consolidated infrastructure facilitates the process by reducing the constraints attached to the development technologies, as well as reducing the constraints attached to the deployment of the processes and applications. Do you want to upgrade your hardware and software? A consolidated infrastructure eases the process by reducing the number of platforms and software packages that must be upgraded and the potential downtime associated with this process. Do you need to scale due to a merger or acquisition? A consolidated infrastructure expedites the process by reducing the complexity of linking the IT environments of the merged companies, as well as reducing the technical constraints for integrating their applications.

What do you think? If an IT person were to ask you, “What can I do to save money in my department?”, what answer would you give them?

(Photo by pmarkham: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmarkham/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)
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