At the heart of business-to-business (B2B) solutions is the ability for organizations to quickly, reliably and securely transfer files with multiple B2B trading partners. When those B2B networks were smaller, more geographically concentrated and built on similar protocols and frameworks, file transfer was relatively easy.
Files were sent point to point, organization to organization—even person to person. While direct connections were the rule of thumb, the continued reliance on File Transfer Protocol (FTP) raised concerns over performance, latency, availability and security.
Traditional methods such as FTP no longer are good enough, fast enough or often even secure enough to accommodate the new, tightly integrated B2B framework. FTP’s limitations in visibility, reliability and security have been addressed to some degree, but much more is needed.
Things are obviously very different today, with global partner networks, multisite suppliers and huge volumes of very large data files going through inadequate physical network bandwidth—or often less-than-adequate wireless infrastructure. Whether it’s a retailer trying to get a credit card transaction clearinghouse to approve a big purchase or a stock exchange looking to send institutional buy orders thousands of miles in a millisecond, file transfer is more important—and more challenging—than ever.
As a result, organizations are devoting more attention to managed file transfer (MTF) services that handle the growing volumes of file-based B2B transactions and communication. Enhancing the legacy file transfer options with a unified, robust and secure connection among enterprises and their many partners is an essential step in integrating B2B functions up, down and within the global value chain.
While some organizations have opted for expensive infrastructure upgrades or costly on-premises software, these have kept the onus on the already-stretched in-house staff to fine-tune networks to ensure reliable, secure and speedy transmission of files from one end of the earth to the other. At the same time, organizations want even more capabilities than most legacy systems can easily and cost-efficiently provide, such as customizable dashboards for different user groups and file types and immediate alerts for file transfer problems.
Among the key solutions that make high-speed MTF a reality in light of today’s demanding requirements is IBM Sterling File Gateway, which enables organizations to integrate file transfer with other system management applications. IBM Sterling File Gateway provides higher visibility and enhanced self-service features for faster response and better decision making.
It also supports automated file transfer to improve efficiency, data encryption and event logging for beefed-up security and consolidated management of multiple centers of file transfer activity.
Other important IBM solutions that further enable efficient MTF include:
- IBM Sterling Connect:Direct to bypass legacy FTP implementations, particularly for high-volume transactions.
- IBM Sterling Secure Proxy, which secures the enterprise backbone network by preventing direct connectivity between external partners and on-premises servers.
- IBM Control Center to extend governance over B2B integration and MFT file exchanges through a central monitoring and configuration management agent.
- IBM Sterling File Transfer Service, a cloud-based solution that mitigates the need for additional Capex to handle high-speed transfer of massive quantities of large files.
For more information on how IBM’s managed file transfer solutions can smooth the bumps in the road for your B2B integration efforts, please visit www.ibm.com/software/products/en/category/b2b-integration.