IBM managed file transfer solutions: A guide to help you choose


connected-lightwellManaged file transfer solutions are critical for any business concerned about the integrity of information flowing through corporate networks. The realities of today's advanced threat landscape mean that generic tools or piecemeal approaches are simply insufficient to effectively stave off security compromises and eliminate information leaks. A recent report by Risk Based Security found that more than 176 million data records were compromised worldwide in the first quarter of 2014 alone, with hacking, fraud and human error just some of the root causes allowing data to fall into predators' hands. Overall, 85.5 percent of incidents involved some outsider activity, while insiders contributed to 59.4 percent of all records exposed. Businesses and supply chains are being threatened from both sides of the network.

"It's difficult to say whether security is deteriorating, bad actors are getting better or some combination of both," said Inga Goddijn, RBS managing director of insurance services, according to CSO Online. "What we do know is that there have been eight events in the past six months that have involved the compromise of at least 10 million records per event and the trend is continuing with the most recent revelations at eBay."

Organizations need to invest in managed file transfer services to safeguard against both insider and outsider threats, and to increase network security overall. The IBM Sterling portfolio of managed file transfer solutions offers abundant options for companies, but what they should deploy depends on their industry requirements, supply chain position and most pressing network needs. To help organizations make this tough decision, here is a breakdown of the IBM Sterling managed file transfer solutions, including what they offer and what kind of enterprise they are intended for:

IBM Sterling Connect:DirectIn B2B partnerships and supply chains, file transfer protocols are often not sufficiently aligned. At the same time that supply chains expand, all file transfers need to occur with more speed and security, creating a disconnect that can severely curtail productivity, business collaboration and the bottom lines of several parties. IBM Connect:Direct aims at eliminating these incompatibility issues, utilizing automated scheduling and delivery to improve transfers and high-performance architecture that ensures even large workloads can be transmitted effectively. Overall, it brings the clarity, performance and protection above and beyond FTP that companies desperately need in today’s environment.

IBM Sterling Control CenterAs the saying goes, you can't manage what you can't measure. A lack of concrete information about file transfer activity, and data movements in general, can easily sow confusion and cause unplanned productivity losses. IBM Sterling Control Center gives administrators and business partners the comprehensive oversight that they need to ramp up managed file transfer efforts. It offers management and metrics for internal elements, such as application and server performance, as well as B2B components like trading partner status and customer information. It can also offer real-time performance data that can help organizations identity failure transfers, configuration issues and potential compliance violations, enabling them to establish a proactive, adaptable managed file transfer system. 

IBM Sterling File GatewayAlong with the need for comprehensive oversight is the necessity of consolidated file transfer operations. Silos in the enterprise virtually guarantee that information movement will err in some way, whether it's through conflicting information, missing data or inconsistent file formats. These silos all ensure that there will be snafus in onboarding business partners, maintaining compliance and effectively communicating within the organization. IBM Sterling File Gateway offers a variety of tools for better control and communication, including configurable self-service and automated features. These allow enterprises to tailor their file transfer efforts to the requirements and concerns of disparate departments. Event logging and better management tools also improve system-wide visibility, streamlining the integration of trading partners.

IBM Sterling File Transfer Service: In some cases, it makes sense to go the cloud. As information needs rise, many enterprises have found that maintaining an on-premises application environment themselves is a daunting task. IBM Sterling File Transfer Service is a software as a service offering, delivered through the cloud. Not only does this eliminate the high costs of building and managing an onsite software environment and onboarding users, it leverages scalability and collaboration tools that permit enterprises to pare down their environments, cutting out the fluff. With less complexity and real-time tracking tools at its disposal, an organization is better equipped to leap into B2B integration projects with the peace of mind that its FTP is up to snuff.

IBM Sterling Quickfile: This solution is intended for organizations that need a stronger, more secure support system for person-to-person file transfers. The consumerization of technology has given rise to shadow IT, in which business users utilize a variety devices, applications, cloud storage and other tools to share important company documents. Many of these may not be approved by the enterprise, and pose serious risks, including incompatible file transfers and breaches. These consequences reduce productivity and drive up costs. IBM Quickfile addresses these user practices on a granular and pragmatic level, allowing for file transfers to occur successfully without restrictions imposed by software, browsers or email clients. Users can gain more visibility into their files in transit, while the organization can apply security tools - such as encryption, virus scanning and authentication - it needs the most.

IBM Sterling Secure ProxyThe protection-minded company can use Sterling Secure Proxy to eliminate the looming treat of outsider attacks. This application relies on demilitarized zone technology to create a perimeter around all file transfers, whether they're within the corporate network or moving between multiple partner networks. Its features include multifactor authentication, firewalls and encryption, military-grade information security tools that thwart dangerous brute force, phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks. Security controls can also be configured to align with the system requirements of business partners, ensuring that another company's approach doesn't jeopardize the integrity of its partner's data.

Working with a managed services provider
All of these tools can help organizations make sure their file transfers are productive and safe. By partnering with a services provider like Lightwell, an organization receives expert assistance in its efforts to not only implement, but maintain these cutting-edge IBM Sterling solutions. Staying up to date with business environments going from zero to 60 can be tough, but we can provide the support, clarity and expertise to get an enterprise up to speed.

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