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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Making Fun of Wall Street Journal Would Have Been Too Easy - the Reality of Secure File Transfer for Enterprises

Summary: The Wall Street Journal courted a wave of resentment with an article on how end users can bypass IT restrictions. While the fireworks are entertaining, the real question is, how will you address these real user needs as an enabler? Here's a secure and enterprise class solution that end users would use - what a concept!

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

That scream of despair from the direction of the IT director and CIO that you heard a few days ago may have been a result of the Wall Street Journal's article by Vauhini Vara entitled Ten Things Your IT Department Won’t Tell You. The article provides ways of how end users can bypass IT restrictions and controls for various tasks such as checking personal emails and large file transfer.

Naturally, Ms Vara is getting an avalanche of angry letters from IT providers as noted by this WSJ blog. What I find particularly instructive is not so much the bad advice dispensed -- and indeed they were lousy ideas -- but how this points to the on-going tension between IT and the organizations and users that IT supports.

In this context, I would like to discuss the #1 hack/bypass in the article - transferring large files. Like the article noted, IT departments often purposely block large attachments from going through the corporate email system for reasons ranging from performance to protection from attacks.

As a workaround, Ms. Vara suggests using a consumer grade service, which are often free, like YouSendIt or SendThisFile. At the same time, she notes the risk, such as this "makes it easier for a wily hacker to intercept files..."

No wonder CIO's are breaking out in pools of cold sweat from this article!

On paper, IT has the moral high ground - these procedures are meant to protect both users and organizations from viruses, spam and increasing violations of regulations and corporate procedures. While no end users would disagree with the importance of these protections, it is also the reality that end users are looking to get their job done. Whether you call it protection or a hurdle, a successful end user will instinctively find a way around the limitation. (Even without WSJ's help.)

Fortunately, what we are seeing is a generation of IT professionals who are looking beyond the eternal struggle between IT and the consumers of IT capabilities in a zero-sum calculation. Instead, there is a recognition that IT is an integral part of business processes that, if appropriately deployed and managed, can become a competitive advantage for the entire organization.

Sending large files is a legitimate need for many of today's business processes, so instead of pointing accusing fingers at each other, the trend is to deploy a secure file transfer system that is specifically designed to transport large files in parallel like Accellion's secure file transfer solution.

For the users, the Accellion solution is easy to use and can handle 20+ gigabytes in file/folder size with a single click. It is designed with communicating with external partners in mind, which enables employees to easily trade large files with business partners and clients to get the job done.

IT administrators love the Accellion solution because it is a set-it-and-forget-it appliance. It can be installed in less than an hour and requires administrative intervention only when you want to change a configurable parameter. Accellion handles files in a secure fashion that is compliant with regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley. This solution is engineered as an enterprise tool that fits seamlessly within the overall IT infrastructure.

So, while we ponder the flak that Ms. Vara is getting from the unhappy CIOs and IT Directors with some degree of fascination, the easiest solution is probably to install an Accellion secure file transfer solution so we can all get on with life.


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

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