Extending B2B Integration
Technology solutions may start with islands of useful innovations and if they are the really good ideas, extend their use cases and technology foundation to broader and broader applications over time.
Managed File Transfer, the new-age FTP (File Transfer Protocol), is such a case. With data exploding, trading-partner integration demands, and mobile professionals seeking ways to access and share data beyond the enterprise, the need for a secure multiple-protocol method of managing many media and file types is a basic need in all-size companies.
Large retailers (Walmart, Amazon, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, and Kohl’s, to name a few) have moved to using AS2 — the standard protocol used to carry ecommerce (EDI) messages in their supply chain. MFT is the secure methodology, if you will. These companies and their suppliers like AS2/MFT since it can be cheaper to operate in this environment and they also provide the ‘nonrepudiation’ validation that the recipient actually received the transmission.
B2B Jazz Ensemble
MFT was a different world than EDI. But both exhibit the trend mentioned above — extending their applicability. EDI’s translation, and MFT’s encryption and transport of messages make them members of the same band. So now, and for the foreseeable future, there will be more developments from a band of strong players in the B2B integration market. Witness DiCentral, which has a few thousand EDI customers under their domain; has achieved their Drummond certification; and has now officially launched their MFT product, DiConnect.
This puts them into the game with market leaders in MFT: Cleo and Ipswitch. Cleo, today, is the largest provider of this type of service, one of the first to implement the AS2 protocol and provide the linkages to a huge list of retail, distribution, transportation service providers, and manufacturers (such as Chrysler, Ford Motor, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and others). Ipswitch was a first mover, if you will, with the acquisition of MoveIT; and MessageWay Translator, which has an industrial-weight EDI translator, and many large customers using these solutions. MoveIT was the first cloud MFT. It now has an enterprise ad hoc file transfer which provides an enterprise solution that can replace many one-off ad hoc FTPs on the market. CIOs really want a gateway that provides both person-to-person (P2P)/ad hoc and the automated B2B communications inherent in compliant, time-sensitive communications.
Hot Markets for MFT: P2P/ad hoc and Enterprise Integration
MFT is a foundational technology that can take many paths forward based on the industries the solution provider chooses to support. With so many hybrid environments of cloud and on premise within enterprises, the need to ensure seamless and secure file transfers could make MFT the mortar between the bricks in enterprise systems’ portfolio.
The P2P/consumer-side of MFT is highly competitive with the one-off file sharing in all of the ‘boxes.’ But with Ipswitch and other enterprise-weight solutions getting into P2P, it will be interesting to watch the fire — not just the heat — in the P2P MFT world.
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