March 6, 2014 | Posted in Business Applications, Enterprise, Enterprise File Sync and Share, Integration, Managed File Transfer, MFT, Mobile Business | By

The enterprise file transfer space has seen a great increase in adoption by businesses in recent years. Organizations often have a combination of several file transfer applications. The analysts have bucketed these solutions into Enterprise File Sync and Share, or EFSS; and Managed File Transfer, or MFT, which includes Ad Hoc file transfer and B2B file transfer. Each of these solutions have been adopted for specific departments or workflows, which is normal technology evolution. As is the case in an early market, immature solutions are very rarely integrated with each other, but are disparate point solutions; each meant to address a single business problem. Sales or other departments may have EFSS technologies for sharing documents from their mobile devices. Moreover, IT may have several Ad Hoc or B2B technologies for transferring among partners or sending large files securely from individuals. In many cases, economy of scale can be realized through replacing point solutions with a single, flexible, comprehensive platform solution. Mark Egan, former CIO at VMware and Symantec, recently addressed this issue, “What we look for is the complete solution…we have to accept the fact that there are all these other systems that need to be integrated.

Here we will attempt to bring clarification to the three major categories of enterprise file transfer solutions today. Also, you will learn more about a comprehensive solution to replace these disparate technologies, greatly simplifying administration and integration while realizing economies of scale.

Enterprise File Sync and Share

Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) was hatched from freemium apps that gave consumers access to pictures and other files located on their now very capable internet-in-the-pocket mobile devices. The smart phone wave driven by Apple and Google (Android) eventually flooded into the office as “bring your own device”, aptly punned BYOD. The analysts coined the category EFSS as company IT departments began to worry about their workers using these unsanctioned freemium consumer file transfer apps. IT, as the provider of corporate technology, was obligated to adopt a secure way to allow for BYOD and the evolution of EFSS. Sanctioned EFSS gives an organization more control over enterprise information assets with capabilities such as process visibility, logging, and tracking; while the freemium consumer apps do not. Many EFSS tools, having evolved from consumer roots, focus on content management workflow and lack the ability to transparently solve the heavy lifting of file transfer.

Managed File Transfer

Managed File Transfer (MFT), traditionally used to manage and secure the flow of information in business, is divided into two categories: Ad Hoc and B2B. Both categories offer a long list of security features while providing auditing, reporting, and visibility into all files stored and transferred. Additionally, these solutions typically offer scalability, flexibility, and the ability to send files of any size; which might be lacking with consumer rooted EFSS tools.

Ad Hoc, also known as on-demand file transfer, is a form of MFT that incorporates all of the previously mentioned functionality into person-to-person file transfers. A common example is a knowledge worker who sends a sensitive document to a partner or customer. They would simply open their email client, such as Microsoft Outlook (which would have a connector for the MFT service), and send the file with a very simple workflow. Rather than being stored and transferred using the email server, the MFT service stores and transfers the file, providing a link in the email. The file can be any size and is tracked and audible.

The other category of MFT is B2B (business-to-business). This does not mean that a person at one business sends files to a person at another business; any of the three technologies mentioned can do that. B2B MFT involves the programmatic transfer of data between organizations sent by machines or systems rather than people. Files are transferred using one of many transfer protocols provided by B2B solutions.

A Comprehensive File Transfer Solution

Adopting a comprehensive solution will reduce the maintenance and administrative burden on IT, saving time and valuable resources. A comprehensive solution also enables IT to focus on integrating a single solution across various applications internally, which is not likely to ever happen with multiple solutions in place.

Thru is the comprehensive solution for file transfer in the enterprise. Connecting with common business applications such as Outlook, Thru also provides native mobile applications for EFSS. Multiple protocols, a SOA design, and an extremely flexible and scalable platform enables Thru to address even very difficult B2B workflows. By packaging these technologies into a one platform solution, Thru provides a single source of truth for the widest range of files being transferred in and around the enterprise.