Taking File Transfer to the Edge: How to Securely Transfer Files in a Hybrid Architecture


While companies continue to embrace digital transformation and migration of applications and processes to the cloud, on-premises technologies are still being employed due to several reasons, including

  • Governance and compliance requirements, especially regarding data sovereignty
  • High latency or lag times
  • Lack of cloud skills and knowledge
  • Budgetary concerns and constraints

Therefore, to remain competitive and operate efficiently without full cloud adoption, companies are resorting to using edge computing. Continue reading to learn more about edge computing and how it is applied to file transfers in a distributed hybrid architecture.

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is “part of a distributed computing topology where information processing is located close to the edge, where things and people produce or consume that information,” according to Gartner. Or, as TechTarget describes in simpler terms: “Edge computing moves some portion of storage and compute resources out of the central data center and closer to the source of the data itself.”

Edge computing may satisfy security and compliance regulations that require data to be stored or processed inside the enterprise security perimeter. Additionally, since data is handled closer to the source, edge computing may help reduce latency issues and decrease bandwidth usage, which can lead to lower costs and real-time responses.

Edge Computing for File Transfers

As we begin to explore how edge computing may be used when moving data, let’s first look at two scenarios:

  1. To provide the best care and up-to-date billing, a large enterprise in the healthcare sector requires data collected daily from its network of remote entities such as hospitals, clinics and medical offices. However, since the files contain protected health information (PHI) and may also be extremely large in size if containing imaging data, they need to be compressed and encrypted before being transferred.
  2. As part of a modernization and integration initiative, a large enterprise in the financial sector seeks to move data computing and processing to the cloud. However, to meet governance requirements, the data transfers must stay within a specific geographical region.

To meet these challenges, let’s consider how a managed file transfer (MFT) solution can be used in an edge computing configuration. All that is needed is an on-premises, yet lightweight runtime, called an MFT agent that is connected to a cloud-based hub for control, resulting in a distributed hybrid architecture.

How MFT Agents Work in Edge Computing Architecture

An MFT agent is the edge computing resource that is installed close to where the data is being produced. It may reside at physically remote locations, such as point of sale (POS) stores, branch offices or warehouses, or simply on different systems within corporate headquarters. When running an agent within a corporate firewall, the files can remain within the firewall: The MFT agent simply executes file transfer flows while being centrally controlled and managed from a cloud-based MFT service.

Thru’s MFT Agent for Distributed Hybrid Architecture

Our MFT agent, known as Thru Node, is designed to run on-premises behind your firewall to execute file transfers, however, orchestration is from our cloud. Sensitive data remains on-premises while only metadata goes to the cloud. The lightweight Thru Nodes are easily installed on local Windows or Linux file systems and then configured using a web-based interface to communicate with Thru in the cloud.

On-Premises File Transfer with Control from Cloud

Thru Nodes reside on local area networks (LANs) so they can directly access their associated local folders and folder structures, or pathways. The nodes perform automated file transfers and report completed actions and exceptions via an outbound HTTPS connection to cloud-based Thru. When source and target locations are on the same network, the file remains on the network and is not exposed to the internet.

However, a Thru Node does not need to be installed on the system from which it is picking up or dropping off files. As long as the node has access rights to the folder path from the machine it is installed on, the node can function.

diagram using mft agent to transfer files between systems on an internal network

File Transfer Automation and Processing

General automation features available in Thru’s cloud MFT service are also supported by the on-premises Thru Node, including

  • File compression / decompression
  • PGP encryption / decryption
  • Renaming
  • Routing to specific folders

Reaping the Benefits of Edge Computing for File Transfer

The primary benefit of integrating edge computing is to minimize the on-premises footprint and maximize the use of Thru’s cloud-native MFT service for file transfers across the enterprise landscape. This distributed hybrid architecture enables file transfer and processing to remain closer to the source or target while keeping centralized control and visibility from the cloud.

Go to our Thru Node page to learn more about our MFT agent in detail »


Have questions about managed file transfer?

Get answers, not a sales pitch. Our experts have analyzed, discussed and solved difficult file transfer challenges since 2002. We are here to help you.

Scroll to Top