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Think about what Netflix did and what Blockbuster didn’t. Similar to Blockbuster, Netflix started with physical distribution, mailing DVDs to their subscribers. Then, they took a leap of faith —moving into streaming and diverting focus from their primary business. It worked out well for them. Companies that do not innovate become obsolete and the costs of just “keeping the lights on” may have devastating effects on the business. Future-proofing IT investments is critical to keep the business agile so it can adapt to market changes.

File-based data is one of the critical data types in enterprise-grade integrations, along with API- and message-based data. Managed File Transfer (MFT) is a set of technologies and products that facilitate efficient management of file-based data transfer from a set of source endpoints to one or more target endpoints. The transfer is performed in a reliable, secure, and auditable way, and may include simple file processing such as encryption or compression. The source and target endpoints can be in the same or different enterprises. 

The new generation of cloud Managed File Transfer as a service (MFTaaS) emerged in recent years. MFTaaS means that managed file transfer is delivered as a cloud-native service with hybrid architecture to exchange files inside the enterprise and with partners. Many enterprises choose MFTaaS instead of on-premises solutions because of its flexible and fast deployment, elastic scalability, and subscription-based licensing. MFTaaS also fits with enterprise cloud-first and multi-cloud strategies.

Thru MFT cloud is a no-code, easy to use, API-empowered service which extends modern file transfer functionality to integration platforms. By using MuleSoft and Thru together, you combine the power of the primary integration platform with cloud economics and streamlined integration of file-based data. In this blog, you will learn about expected trends that will have a business impact in 2021 and how combined use of these technologies can address possible risks.

Increasing complexity of application integrations and data exchange 

As businesses grow and expand global supply and distribution chains, application usage and trading partner networks multiply. This leads to an increase in integration complexity to manage data exchange. Today, modern enterprise solutions are built around scalable integration platforms (enterprise iPaaS) which connect data endpoints via a common integration layer. An MFT solution that can seamlessly connect with primary integration platforms allows the enterprise to control all data types from a single platform as part of a cloud-first strategy. 

Use of publish-subscribe design pattern and hybrid architecture in MFT service addresses the complexity challenge. Publish-subscribe design replaces unmanageable and brittle point-to-point configurations with streamlined and flexible file flows. One-to-one mapping between MuleSoft and Thru MFT flows creates a separation of duties. The integration platform processes the data and the MFT service acts as a post office, transferring the files between multiple flow subscribers and MuleSoft in both directions.

Cloud MFT’s hybrid architecture guarantees that data exchange between internal corporate repositories stays inside the enterprise firewalls, while data exchange with external parties passes through the MFT cloud. To facilitate internal data traffic, a lightweight MFT agent (Thru Node) is deployed on the enterprise local area network (LAN). File transfers by the agent are orchestrated from the MFT cloud and the agent reports all internal and external transactions back to the cloud via secure communication. 

MuleSoft and a few other leading integration platforms provide the instrumentation, certification process, and marketplace for development of native connectors between integration platform and third-party services. The certified MFT connector for MuleSoft offloads the work of file transfer configuration from MuleSoft developers to built-in features of the MFT service. It can reduce integration development efforts by up to 30%. The Thru MFT certified connector is available in MuleSoft Anypoint Exchange.

Fluctuating traffic patterns

File traffic loads can change for various reasons. To keep file transfers flowing, an MFT solution should be designed with elasticity, where processing resources scale up and down as needed without IT involvement. Choosing MFT solutions with a distributed architecture that supports auto-scaling allows enterprises to adapt to changing file exchange patterns. 

A licensing model that allows the enterprise to pay only for used capacity and avoid unnecessary costs is preferred. This ensures your valuable IT resources are conserved and you only pay for what you use.

Increased cybersecurity risk

A cloud-first strategy brings multiple benefits (scalability, cloud economics, and reduced time-to-value), but it may expose more security vulnerabilities and increase security risks including data loss, theft and tampering. 

Cloud MFT solutions must implement multiple layers of defense to protect data and applications. Cloud infrastructure should be able to withstand denial-of-service attacks and shut down brute force attempts to penetrate the service. All data and metadata should be encrypted in transit and at rest; file-level PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption of file payload should be available as an option. MFT applications should offer strong authentication and role-based security, which restricts access to certain application areas and sensitive information via the granular permission system. 

To align with best security practices, teams should run static security scanning as part of the development process, regularly scan service infrastructure for vulnerabilities, and do a penetration test on the applications.

Tighter deadlines

According to Salesforce, “63% of customers expect companies to provide new products and services more frequently than ever before.” To meet these expectations, you need to cut unproductive processes and encourage agility across your organization. IT teams may waste hours configuring and troubleshooting legacy file transfer systems

A modern cloud MFT service minimizes deployment effort and can be provisioned within a few hours.

Modern MFT solutions with a configuration-based design empower non-technical users (citizen integrators) to create, manage, and troubleshoot file transfers quickly in a web interface. In turn, IT teams can work in agile processes and focus on innovation, helping the enterprise stay competitive.

Specifically, Thru MFT is based on a no-code design philosophy, which enables seamless management of file data exchange flows by non-technical users (citizen integrators) via enterprise and partner web portals, according to the user role.

The next step

PwC, an accounting firm in London, found in its CFO Pulse survey that 52% of companies plan to cut or defer investments because of COVID-19, but only 9% will cut digital transformation investments. The message is clear: future-proofing is essential, especially in times of uncertainty.

The Thru MFT cloud is designed to address all of the above trends with publish-subscribe design, elastic scalability, multiple layers of defense and no-code design. It is an MFT solution designed for native integration with MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform; it is built as a cloud-native platform to handle all security and demand requirements, for both IT professionals and citizen integrators. 

To learn more, see how Crocs freed its IT team to innovate using Thru MFT cloud. Read their story.