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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What Network World and Gartner are saying about Secure File Transfer

Summary: What a difference two years make. What leading publications and analyst firms, such as Network World and Gartner, are saying about secure file transfer and its expanding applications.

Like most information technology vendors, I have my ambivalence about industry analysts. For example, how can anyone not clearly see that Accellion Secure File Transfer Appliance is the best thing since sliced bread? Honestly. On the other hand, it is gratifying to see analyst reports on market growth and feature diversification matching up with experiences on the ground.

In a 2005 Network World review: Learn to love e-mail attachments again, Linda Musthaler, an IT industry analyst, outlined the concerns on "large e-mail attachments several megabytes in size often fail to make it to the intended recipients" and "[FTP], too, has its shortcomings, including lack of security, burdensome administration, lack of document versioning and tracking, and non-compliance with government regulations for certain documents."


When Accellion first rolled out the Courier Secure File Transfer Appliance SFTA solution in late 2004, it was an uphill battle to convince people that SFTA is not only a better technical solution but would make both the end users and the IT support personnel happy.

The typical objection we would hear was that FTP/SFTP and email attachments, while not perfect, were serviceable solutions that both end users and IT departments are willing to put up with.

While we worked with early adopters to overcome these objections, we also began to hear murmurs on the increasing number of FTP/SFTP and email infrastructures that were buckling under the growing volume of information exchanged. Slowly but surely, across industries and business functions, both IT professionals and end users were coming to the realization that secure file transfer is a core business process that cannot be ignored.

Gartner’s 2006 report Replacing FTP With Managed File Transfer: Not All MFT Suites Are Equal states that "Gartner previously defined the MFT suite market as a combination of internal and external technology that enables users to manage all aspects of file transfer. Increasingly, however, we've noticed that there are multiple, disparate deployment scenarios with regard to MFT suites. "

Bingo. Bingo.

Instead of a monolithic and FTP-centric view where only machines need to exchange large files, the market place has embraced and demanded secure file transfer solutions that are user-centric. In other words, machine-to-machine file transfer has become a sub-segment to a much larger market where users need the ability to securely communicate and collaborate with external partners and organizations on an ad-hoc basis with files of any size.

As a result, the market place for MFT solutions deepens and widens to include additional processes and usage behaviors, and we are seeing a surge from proactive IT departments inquiring about the Accellion SFTA solution. This is chiefly driven by the desire to treat secure file transfer as a horizontal business process improvement opportunity. Similarly, instead of us educating the buyers about FTP/SFTP and email attachment issues, we are hearing from them on how FTP means Failure To Protect and what kind of strange maneuvers on Microsoft Exchange/Outlook Attachment Size that they no longer wish to engage in.

Equally important, this need is not confined to a niche industry or function. Many knowledge workers of disparate fields -- ranging from hospitals, research institutions, law firms, to advertising agencies -- are now wondering aloud how they ever lived without Accellion SFTA at their fingertip.

Back at the ranch, Accellion has grown its SFTA customer base from single digit to triple digits in the space of six quarters! In many ways, this feels like we have just passed the early adopter stage and are now on the cusp of an emerging solution that is about to go mainstream for every user and IT professional.

But, more importantly, Accellion pledges to continue to make file transfer easy and secure for end users and IT alike. It’s our belief that the easier we make it, the more it will be used, and the more productive it will make people. And isn’t that the main reason why anyone installs new technology in the first place?


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