Why Improving Enterprise Data Transfer Should Start with Integration

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Why is it that a large, mature company can unexpectedly fail while a younger competitor suddenly dominates the market?

Two reasons for this scenario are that the younger company has:

  1. Faster delivery of services to the market
  2. More agile operations that enable quick innovation

It’s not all about brand recognition anymore, it’s about speed.

The reason Uber turned the taxi industry upside down wasn’t because it had better drivers. It was, of course, because its mobile app created a faster and simpler experience for ordering rides. The use of modern cloud technology and APIs gave Uber the speed and agility it needed to solve problems better than its larger competitors.

Much like the disruption of the traditional taxi industry model, a common technology used by today’s enterprise organizations that is being disrupted are on-premises data transfer systems. These systems have been used for decades in supply chain processes to send and receive data from multiple protocols. The problem is, many of these existing data transfer solutions built on FTP do not have the necessary modern mechanisms to ensure consistent management, monitoring, and security of critical data flows.

But before data transfer systems are improved there is an even bigger elephant in the room that should be addressed first – legacy integration systems. It’s often put off because solving integration requires not only an entirely new integration architecture but also a new approach by IT that changes the entire organization. But when it’s solved, similar to the domino effect, all other technologies like data transfer can be modernized more efficiently.

The Biggest Elephant in the Room: Tangled System Integration

“Almost every CIO I speak to, the first thing they say is they want to move faster and be able to make changes more quickly,” stated Ross Mason, founder of MuleSoft, in this 2017 interview at the Collision Conference. He went on to say, “They can’t do it. If the core of your business is a ball of mud and all just mushed together, it’s pretty awful.”

What is this “ball of mud” that Mason refers to? He describes it as a company’s ecosystem of systems that are tightly mushed together via point-to-point integrations. These connections are typically created using bulky middleware solutions that are very challenging to use and make integration projects slower and more painful.

In a 2019 report on automation and integration from 451 Research, over 300 global IT leaders were surveyed on their technology plans to enable digital business. Of the survey respondents, 81% acknowledged that a hybrid integration platform (HIP) was needed or was already in place at their organization to solve the problem of integrating cloud and on-premises systems, applications, data and mobile devices.

HIPs are the best way enterprises can solve the integration problem before they start working on “downstream” projects like improving data transfer. Through the use of reusable APIs, integration platforms enable companies to create an “application network” where all technology endpoints can be easily plugged in with significantly less development skills required.

According to 451 Research’s report, “HIPs represent the next-generation of integration platform as a service (iPaaS) technology to enable data exchange and interoperability across distributed and disparate on-premises infrastructure, software, cloud services, mobile devices and things that now compose modern hybrid IT architecture.”

Choose a Data Transfer System that Optimizes Integration Platforms

After an organization adopts an “API-first” approach to integration by using a hybrid integration platform, it will be much more equipped to solve the problem of legacy data transfer systems. This is because integration platforms provide a flexible architecture to create and manage data transfer APIs that multiple lines of business can reuse, providing much greater agility and speed for exchanging data.

In order for data transfer to be successful with an integration platform, a company will need a modern data transfer platform that ensures consistent management, monitoring, and security of critical data flows.

Thru: A Unified API-Led Approach to Enterprise Data Transfer

Thru’s platform with Managed File Transfer as a Service (MFTaaS) solution set provides a cloud-based data transfer solution that easily integrates with integration platforms as a service (iPaaS) via MFT Connectors for Boomi and MuleSoft. Thru’s iPaaS connectors enable enterprises to instantly map data transfer workflows to integration platforms, removing any need for custom coding or scripting and adds powerful features like encryption for all transfers, management of endpoints and monitoring to track all activity.

Companies get several powerful features when managing data transfers with Thru rather than legacy data transfer systems:

  1. “Point-and-click” flow creation – Users can easily create data transfer workflows and label according to business use cases. These workflows can then be reused for other use cases, enabling fast business process creation. No need for coding or scripting.
  2. Self-service onboarding – Partners don’t need to be manually configured by the enterprise thanks to a self-service portal in Thru. Users can log in and view workflows they are subscribed to and set up their own endpoints, making B2B integration with the enterprise loosely coupled and onboarding/changes more efficient.
  3. Alerts – Be notified of events such as endpoint inactivity, source connection errors and certificate expiration.
  4. Error handling – If an error occurs during transit, Thru will automatically retry pushing or pulling files once the connection is recovered.
  5. Persistent storage – Files can be persistent in the Thru platform (based off the retention/archival settings that have been set), allowing for the use of a replay system.
  6. Monitoring – Admins can monitor the status of file deliveries and also dig into the status of all deliveries via web-based dashboards.

To see how Thru enables enterprises to efficiently transfer and manage high volume data transfers, download the white paper, Managed File Transfer for the Extended Enterprise.

Figure 1 – Data Transfer Workflow Creation in Thru
Below is an example of a data transfer workflow (AKA Transport Process) set up in Thru. You can see that an SFTP server is connected to a company’s MuleSoft and SAP environment for data exchange.

Figure 2 – “Retry” or “Give Up” Pending Transfers
Organizations can manually “Retry” or “Give Up” pending file transfers on any delivery target within a data transfer workflow.

Figure 3 – Error Handling and Fault Tolerance
Thru is all about error handling and file persistence, which allows automatic recovery. Thru will mark pending alerts as “Recovered” if connection is restored or a file is processed.

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