Accellion blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Five Requirements for an Enterprise Secure File Transfer Solutions

Summary: What makes a solution "enterprise class"? If you are sending files using a solution meant to send pictures to grandma, you may be asking for trouble. There are five categories of capabilities that you want to consider for business file transfers.

Don't forget to go to the bottom to see what Accellion has been up to

Someone asked me recently what I mean by consumer-oriented vs. enterprise solutions. In other words, what distinguishes enterprise file transfer solutions from consumer products? While the intersection between high-end consumer solutions and enterprise solutions can be hazy, there are five sets of required characteristics that I use to determine whether or not a file transfer solution is suitable for business use:

* Management and business processes
* Policy control
* Integration with other enterprise solutions
* Security and compliance
* Branding

Let’s have a look at each of these characteristics and why they are worth the added overhead in an enterprise context.

Management and business processes
The solution needs features that map to the work flow of business processes and how a business is run. Data and documents are the lifeblood of most businesses, and they need to be handled like the critical assets they are. Important enterprise features for file transfer include automated file life cycle management, audit and tracking capabilities, verification of file delivery, encryption, automated virus checking, file integrity check, and so on.

Policy control
An enterprise-level file transfer application allows configurable automated policies at several levels. For instance, at the user level, there could be several classes of users to account for external vs internal users. Similarly, at the access level, depending on the nature of the file, there could be multiple access authentication requirements. And, at the file level, there could be a number of policies dictating the duration in which a file is accessible.

Integration with other enterprise solutions
An enterprise file transfer solution should be able to work seamlessly within the overall IT infrastructure. Integrating with existing systems like email and directory services would ensure smooth business process and work flow.

The most obvious integration is with email clients such as Outlook and Lotus Notes. However, it should also integrate with directory services such as LDAP/AD to streamline administration. And, beyond these usual suspects, there should also be API/SDK capabilities to integrate with other applications. I have seen examples ranging from intranet single sign-on to integrating with finance systems for revenue recognition.

Security and compliance
These two issues are probably the most immediate concern of most businesses today. In other words, if the file transfer process doesn’t comply with mandated regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, it shouldn’t be used. While the specifics vary by industries and business processes, typical features include encryption, virus-checking, information removal based on rules and policies (life cycle management), audit trails to see who has done what with the files, and policy management to set user privileges.

Companies invest huge amounts of budget and resources developing and marketing their “brand.” An enterprise-level file transfer solution should be configured to have a specific company’s look and feel. This could include the use of the company’s logo, specific fonts, colors, and a company-specific user guide. This is particularly important for external and guest users where putting a company’s skin or wrapper makes it feel like a well-integrated part of the business process.

In the knowledge economy of today, sending your most critical assets (digital files) via solutions meant to send pictures to grandma is playing with fire. The five feature categories above should help you quickly assess your current capabilities and, if need be, can be the basis for your search for an enterprise grade secure file transfer solution.

And, yes, in case you are wondering, Accellion's secure file transfer solution does all of the above (and more) while making it easy to use like a consumer solution. Best of the both worlds, as the saying goes.


Accellion in the News

Media Coverage

Accellion Solves CRA International's Large File Transfer Issues

How One CIO Escaped E-Mail Attachment Hell

Press Releases

* Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Chooses Accellion to Safeguard Patient Data

* Accellion Extends Market Presence in Europe; With introduction of multi-language capability, companies profit from simple, fast and secure file transfer across the globe

No comments: