by ArcESB Marketing | October 10, 2019

17 Ways MFT is Superior to Scripting for Automating File Transfers

ArcESB

File transfer is essential to many business processes. It provides a straightforward way for trading partners to share critical information. But many of the tasks involved in file transfer are tedious and repetitive. As a result, many system administrators today use scripting to automate file transfer processes, such as FTP uploads or downloads. But scripting isn't your only choice. In this article, we will compare scripting with another option, managed file transfer, and show why MFT is far superior for enterprises.

Scripting

Scripting has become a popular method for automating file transfer because it's included at no extra cost as a part of most operating systems. Commercial and open source operating systems offer built in FTP client and server capabilities and come with scripting languages, such as bash, shell, VBScript, and Windows PowerShell. You can then use a tool like Windows Scheduler to execute your scripts.

But while you don't have to pay for scripting languages, you stand to incur a number of hidden costs from using them.

1. You Need to Write Your Own Scripts

For starters, your organization needs to have someone on staff or hire an outside consultant to write scripts. That individual must have a programming background and familiarity with scripting languages.

2. Limited Functionality

Because they are not full-fledged applications, scripting tools often have limited functionality. For example, your organization will be able to create scripts that can transfer files. But those scripts may be unable to:

  • Encrypt files at rest
  • Execute custom logic such as advanced routing
  • Easily parse a file that needs to be routed to a different location
  • Use an event to trigger the script to monitor a file or check a record in the database
  • Or perform integration in a flexible manner

These core automation capabilities prove critical for many organizations.

3. Lack of Reusability

Reusability is not a given. Scripts must be carefully designed to enable your organization to reuse scripting code and automated workflows. Users within your organization may not necessarily have the expertise to design reusable scripts.

4. Difficulty Managing Scripts

When organizations have a problem with how their scripts are operating, these issues can be difficult to manage for several reasons.

Your organization may not be aware that an issue has occurred. Even if the developer includes notifications and error handling, scripts are not usually tested with the same rigor as commercial applications. Thus, bugs can prevent the notification from launching. If data transmission errors occur while a script is copying or moving data, the script will not recover from those failures and resume.

Once you are aware an error has occurred, the cause of the problem may be difficult to track down. Because scripting tools lack a visual integrated development environment (IDE) to simplify troubleshooting, you'll need to check in many places to see what's going on, find the error, and fix it.

5. Manual Updates

After scripts have been written, many things can change. Your company can change its business processes, applications, protocols, certificates or encryption algorithms. Or you might update the operating system or scripting language or switch from one open systems technology to another. Should any of these changes occur, you'll have to manually update the scripts to accommodate them.

6. Lack of Documentation

If the person who wrote the scripts leaves your team, a replacement will need to go through all the scripts to determine the flow. If the scripts are not well documented or if the new system administrator is accustomed to a different scripting language, it can be difficult to understand the script. And if the person responsible simply can't determine how the scripts work, they may have to rewrite them entirely.

7. Lack of Security

Scripts for file transfers, such as those using FTP, will likely not include basic security, such as encryption. Often, scripts contain passwords in plaintext, which can compromise their security.

8. Lack of Logs for Audits & Compliance

While it is possible to generate logs for use in auditing with scripting, these logs can be difficult to create and burdensome to maintain. Thus, organizations that use scripts often lack the necessary logs for compliance with GDPR, PCI and other regulations.

Managed File Transfer

A managed file transfer (MFT) solution is a unified technology platform that provides administrative controls, support for security protocols (like HTTPS, SFTP, FTPS) and automation capabilities to help your organization securely share files and other data.

As part of a commercial application, all of these capabilities are generally well tested, documented and, centralized into a single tool for ease of use and management. MFT solutions simplify the process of automating file transfer with a wide range of capabilities.

9. Drag and Drop Automation Workflows

No-code and visual flow designers enable you to define and set up complex data flows in minutes. Because these solutions require no programming, business users can create automated file transfer flows, enabling IT resources to reduce maintenance time and conserve time for core projects. Easy-to-use tools also make it simple to update automated processes when changes occur.

10. Reusability

Reusable components mean all you have to do is check a box to reuse full-fledged automation workflows or pieces of workflows. rather than having to write custom code. They can also use the visual flow designer to build and reuse workflows.

11. Audit logs

Comprehensive logging and auditing features give you real-time visibility into file transfers throughout the organization. These capabilities simplify compliance with data privacy regulations, such as GDPR, PCI, and HIPAA.

12. Security

A full range of included security features reduce risk so you can ensure compliance with data regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA. These include multi-factor authentication centralized through the Active Directory, along with certificate management, encryption, and even demilitarized zone (DMZ) access to protect your firewall.

13. Triggers

MFT solutions, many of which come with a powerful developer API, allow you to trigger automated actions. A trigger is any event occurring on the server that can be used to initiate an automated action or workflow. For example, at a specific time, or upon the upload of a file to a specific place, a trigger might be used to encrypt the uploaded file, map it to a new document format, and send a notification email.

14. Centralized Management

To make your automated file transfers easier to maintain, MFT solutions provide a single centralized system for reporting and management.

15. Drummond Certification

In the file transfer industry, Drummond Certification indicates that an AS2 implementation in a particular software package has been tested and approved by the Drummond Group, a highly rigorous industry organization dedicated to ensuring complete security, compatibility and the highest standards of compliance. MFT solutions that are Drummond Certified are proven reliable for partner communication via secure protocols, such as AS2, AS4, OFTP(2), and others.

16. Non-Repudiation

If delivering a file on time to a trading partner is critical to your business, you'll want a solution that provides non-repudiation, which is legal proof of receipt. This is critical for many B2B transactions like sending shipments, confirmations, purchase orders, and invoices — just to name a few.

17. Support

MFT solutions are backed by their vendors. The good ones provide support and help you troubleshoot & address any file transfer problems. MFT solutions come with technical support.

Modernizing Your File Transfers

Adopting an MFT solution gives you a full set of capabilities to simplify file transfer automation — eliminating the hidden costs inherent in scripting. And often, the process allows you to eliminate duplicate tools, save money, and implement better security — while simplifying your processes and making your life easier.

Learn more in our MFT white paper:

Modern MFT: How to Simplify Integration and Reduce Risk with Managed File Transfer