How Do Aging IT Systems Cope with Exceptions?

Joe Fisher, EVP Worldwide Marketing, Axway

“If you’ve got a long-standing FTP infrastructure and you want to figure out how you extend that infrastructure and make it secure, you could start to add elements of managed file transfer. Most organizations have existing email security or email exchange infrastructure and they need to figure out, ‘How do we make this email infrastructure smarter, but more importantly, secure, to meet new mandates?'”

Solve That Last Mile

Ulf Persson, Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, Axway

Take the typical ERP problem. Then, consider the mid-market vendors selling, for example, transportation and warehouse management systems.

The way they offer these systems today, due to the trend, they are offering their ERP as a hosted solution, an on-premise solution, or a combination of the two—kind of a “hybrid” offer. In each of these scenarios, for these vendors to sell the bigger value, and to address the question, “How do I manage my transport management and logistics end-to-end?”, they need a piece of an “application” that can help them manage their trading partners and suppliers. That’s a typical problem that I see out there.

Today, application providers, enterprise resource planning providers, and CRM providers need the last mile so they can provide an end-to-end solution to offer their IP, their business know-how, to solve a certain business problem, but also have the ability to integrate that solution with trading partners, suppliers, or internal-type applications that they may run into when they deploy their applications.

ERP providers today—you have big players and smaller players. Maybe they are required to implement some kind of production planning system, so they come in and they realize that there are many other legacy applications, and they all need to be integrated—financial systems, order management applications, general ledger, accounts payable, and others.

A challenge here is answering the following questions: “How do they do that? What does it mean? Why is it important? How does the combination of traditional ERP implementation and some kind of integration technology—B2B, MFT—work together to solve that last mile of the problem, and to actually provide an end-to-end solution to a customer, internally and  externally?”

One answer, some may say, is to build point-to-point integrations from their systems, from the ERP, to these applications. But, long term, that will probably never work; it will be very difficult to support and maintain, as well as very expensive. Plus, you wouldn’t get the right level of business visibility. So that’s another area where integration software—and, if it’s of an external nature, B2B integration software—is used to help glue things together and provide a real answer to that question.

One more scenario.

Say you have a large enterprise, a global business—supply chain, healthcare—and they have, over the years, been using one of the larger ERPs—SAP or Oracle or something similar—and then, all of a sudden, there is a change in the version, which may affect some of the older APIs that they’ve used to build connectivity with trading partners, internal applications, or other types of systems. Introducing that upgrade would mean that they would need to change the interfaces.

Never fear: B2B software with MFT capabilities will govern that process, and instead of changing all of these point-to-point interfaces over and over again because they’re doing an upgrade of the main ERP, the integration technology alone will solve the problem in one fell swoop.

A Holistic View: Internal MFT in the Financial Services Industry

John Wilson, Director of Solution Enablement – FSI, Axway

“When you think of setting up an SLA, and that causes you to cringe, that’s going to be a good indication that there’s areas for improvement. If you still have the memory of looking through all those audit logs for that lost file or trying to back out a duplicate file that was loaded…(if) those are still fresh in your mind, then these also may be good indicators as well. It’s a super competitive market. Any black mark to your reputation can cause devastation. Causes undue expenses, lost revenue, and even loss of customers.”

Repeatable Across New Applications and New Trading Partners

Paul French, VP, Product & Solutions Marketing, Axway

“FTP has the perception of being wonderfully inexpensive, but really what it is, it’s reinventing the wheel every single time. It’s a blank sheet of paper, and you have to have a human go in and make specific decisions on what you expect that thing to do, and very rarely is it documented, very rarely is it done in a way that is repeatable across new applications, new trading partners, new security models, etc. So it creates a long-term cost drag. Every time you want to make a change, you have to find some human to deconstruct what was done and re-do it. Every time you want to roll something else out you have to start from scratch, which means your speed to market, your speed to deliver value to the business, is slower than it needs to be.”

Genie in a Bottle

John Thielens, Chief Architect, Cloud Services, Axway

“I’ve seen some organizations go to real extremes, where they lock down laptops, they turn off USB ports, there’s no CD burning. The only folks I’ve ever seen really do it effectively was the CIA, where they took your memory sticks away when you walked in. There was a guy with a machine gun by the door. And, by golly, data that they didn’t want to get out of that building wasn’t getting out of that building. But falling short of that, most folks don’t really do a very good job of applying lock and key to security when they really should be thinking about data security and access control.”

How Much Does Your File Transfer Infrastructure Cost You?

Paul French, VP, Product & Solutions Marketing, Axway

“How hard is it to move a file? It turns out that the answer to that is twofold. On the most base level, how hard is it to move a file? It’s not so hard. It’s easy to move a file from one platform to the same platform. Or from one box to the same box, depending on the way the architecture or the infrastructure is. But now think about how hard is it to move hundreds of thousands of files, make them encrypted files, make them encrypted files that live inside a strong SLA, make them encrypted files inside a strong SLA with a larger-scale industry or regulatory compliance. And before you know it, the answer to the question is, ‘It’s pretty hard to move a file.'”

An Internal Managed File Transfer Strategy

Paul French, VP, Product & Solutions Marketing, Axway

“They’ve left out this concept of the file, because those infrastructures tend to do okay with small files, but large enterprises and even some small enterprises have lots and lots of large files. Files are everywhere. Files are the nature of collaboration. They’re the nature of integration in a lot of cases. So an internal MFT strategy is really the place where most of the potential operational improvement cost reduction, and, believe it or not, security risks, lie. We’ve spent so much time and effort looking outward at what the security risks might be and we’ve invested in secure Web gateways and in firewalls and in proxies and in all sorts of fun and exciting stuff to protect things going in and leaving the enterprise, we’ve forgotten that a huge percentage of data loss, of data breach, of challenges are associated with internal managed file transfer challenges.”

Dynamic Processes

Paul French, VP, Product & Solutions Marketing, Axway

“The challenge comes when it really is a file movement problem more than an email problem. Because you may have really, really large documents that bring in absolutely everything that’s on this ship. Absolutely everything that might be between a taxpayer and a county government or a state government, or be between a military agency and some logistics or procurement provider. The files are big and obviously extremely sensitive. Leaving that to chance in an email system or leaving that to chance with some free or unregulated (solution) or, even worse, leaving it to chance with a USB drive, is a risk profile that most customers don’t want to have to think about. So the answer is the ability to enable these very non-standard, fluid processes and the people that are involved with them with a really, really secure and performing tool that will allow someone to send really, really big files–either to a system or to a human on the other side–while taking advantage of connection-level security and access-management security.”

Protecting the Reputations of Our Firms, Industries, and Departments

Ruby Raley, Director, Healthcare Solutions, Axway

“We are tasked with making sure that those messages, that information, moves safely and securely to the person who needs it to provide the care to the patient, to deliver the service the patient needs, to deliver the test the patient needs in order to help the doctor make the right diagnosis. IT is the enabler through information exchange for so many interactions that improve healthcare and improve the quality of life of everyone.”

Keeping the Bottom Line in Check

Joe Fisher, EVP Worldwide Marketing, Axway

“We see a lot of files actually getting blocked because the filter thinks that it’s a spam message, when in fact it’s very high-value, very time-sensitive information that the organization is probably trying to communicate to their customer base. So you’ve got challenges of security, privacy, and then obviously the accuracy of letting the appropriate information in the organization and keeping the bad stuff out. A high-value document that might be time sensitive that has to get to your customer is something that you don’t want getting caught in a spam filter.”

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