Since the beginning of the internet, it’s been necessary for organizations to transfer data from one location to another for processing, to store it for a future purpose, or to share the information with others. The 1’s and 0’s that makeup the data today are the same as when the internet first launched in 1984. But what’s changed? The answer (as you intuitively may have guessed) is almost everything else.
As Plato said: “necessity is the mother of invention,” and as we began transferring more and more information around the globe and into our homes and offices, we needed larger, faster networks, and increasingly advanced platforms to accomplish this. We curated this high-level overview to provide a full picture of the infrastructure solutions that exist in the market today and the advantages and risks of each.
In business today, it is a necessity for any organization from SMB to enterprise level organizations to have a way to exchange files and other information reliably and securely. Although security is typically the most important feature organizations also need to ensure that the file-sharing/data-transfer solution they choose is easy-to-use and adaptable. If employees are not given an option that they can easily incorporate into their operations, they tend to seek out and use consumer-grade solutions. Let’s take a deeper look at the infrastructure solutions.
On-premise file transfer solutions for a long-time were the only option. On-premise (sometimes referred to as “on prem” or “in house”) may seem outdated compared to a cloud-based solution but having a secure storage and file sharing/file transfer solution that sits on your company’s in-house hardware at a business office or location or a data center of your choice offers the security, control, efficiency, and functionality advantages of being on your proprietary network. You own the hardware. Outside parties connecting to your server to pick up files in this scenario would be a different story regarding security though.
There is more configuration time and up-front costs associated with on-premise vs. a cloud server. There’s also the ongoing risk of increased vulnerability as your organization will be responsible for securing your systems both physically and from cyber threats. Alternatively, you will have a greater degree of customization with on-prem which may better fit your needs if you have administrators with specialized requirements. Organizations from mid to large sized along with banks, universities, government agencies and other private institutions still utilize on-premise solutions for some workloads, but over 96% of enterprises are now utilizing cloud-based systems in some form.
Organizations moving toward remote work in 2022 have placed questions regarding data storage and accessibility top of mind. Even though there are certain advantages to the traditional manner of organizations keeping operating systems, servers, and other hardware as physical assets on company property, it still comes with considerable risk when compared to a cloud-based solution.
When evaluating an on-prem file transfer solution, it is imperative to understand the risks and potential downfalls involved while evaluating which method is best for your organization.
Overall attempting to make on-prem infrastructure effective for a remote work environment will likely be costly and require additional equipment and licensing leading to a rather cumbersome process.
Since the first solutions hit the market in the early 2000s, cloud file transfer applications and remote storage have seen impressive growth fueled by Amazon and Microsoft, amongst others. The cloud is a network of remote data centers/servers linked to operate as a single entity. This “cloud” can be used to store, share, transfer all kinds of data and information from software to files/folders. These cloud deployments are used to provide web-based emails, online applications, storage, and other interactive environments.
Cloud-based file transfer solutions, otherwise known as Managed-File-Transfer-as-a-Service (MFTaaS), is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution hosted completely off-site and by a third-party provider. They offer significant scalability and set-up advantages thanks to its off-the-shelf configuration packages that can quickly add storage and bandwidth resources. However, there may be additional security concerns if the MFTaaS solution provider you choose does not also have security top of mind and developed security features for strict compliance environments. An MFTaaS solution allows the user to access all of their data via the internet, usually through a sign-on portal or through a file transfer protocol directly. This service is the most common, cost effective, and simple solution for most organizations.
Cloud-based storage security risks are constantly evolving. The ever-increasing amounts of proprietary or personal data stored and accessed from the cloud increases the need for organizations to understand and assess their cloud storage security risks. While many organizations have structured and consistent approaches to cloud security, others are not yet fully aware of the shared responsibility model of cloud security and their options when it comes to using and securing cloud services such as file transfer.
The use of cloud applications can present various security risks, and organizations often fail to identify and responsibly manage those risks. Below are 4 common examples of security risks with cloud-based file transfer applications.
Moving business processes such as file transfer to the cloud is a great way to achieve scalable, cost-effective IT solutions, but companies must be careful to identify and manage risk along the way.
A hybrid infrastructure, or hybrid cloud, file transfer solution is an IT infrastructure design and environment made up of a mix of on-premise data centers, private clouds and/or public clouds with the file transfer software layer residing on each infrastructure. This can give you the best of both worlds with more options for storing and handling sensitive data in the private cloud, or through a SaaS provider that has expertise in a specific field such as file transfer and connecting them to your other environments through SFTP.
In fact, reports suggest 82% of enterprise organizations are operating a hybrid cloud model where they pick might have on prem file storage, a public cloud footprint, or have outsourced MFTaaS to an industry leader. Additionally, companies with some regulatory requirements such as lengthy backups of files that have been transferred may benefit from utilizing the hybrid system because of less expensive archival storage costs, with the increased features and management of SaaS.
In a hybrid cloud, your organization is deploying, configuring, and maintaining operating systems, work applications, and security applications in multiple environments (depending on the requirements of your business). This puts additional strain on IT staffs for management and monitoring of infrastructure and applications. Why is this important? In some industry surveys, over 50% of IT staffs have said they already have an excessive workload. As IT environments become more complex with more requirements, it’s important to consider the well-being of your team.
Public Cloud is often considered ‘less-secure’ because of the potential lack of privacy and security policies in place between multiple tenants on a public cloud. between multiple Private Cloud, though ‘secure’ because less people will know of its existence, often fails to offer the robustness or versatility of the public cloud if your infrastructure is operating on outdated or obsolete cloud platform That’s where the industry started looking at ‘Hybrid Cloud’ for security!
But gaining the advantages of a Hybrid Cloud file transfer platform depends on analyzing and addressing a few critical challenges, listed below:
So which infrastructure solution for file transfer is better – on-premise, cloud, or hybrid cloud? Each business is going to have different business needs and file transfer/file storage requirements.
If you need full data and cost control, a lot of time on your hands for maintenance and configuration, and your administrators are up for the challenge, an on-premise file server may be the way to go. If it would benefit your organization to offload the infrastructure and platform management to an expert in the field and prefer the additional features without spending time on development, and many other benefits, then cloud-based file transfer is likely your best option. A solution provider such as FTP Today can help you with compliance and regulations as we’ve built a platform for the sharing of highly sensitive data.If you have legacy equipment that you still need to utilize without making a large migration, you may benefit from a hybrid infrastructure file transfer solution that allows for external connections because of the long term storage cost effectiveness and ease of SaaS in the cloud.
Each of the infrastructures discussed today have their advantages, but it is imperative to know which of them would best fit your operational needs. Still unsure which one to choose? FTP Today can help you decide if our cloud-based managed file transfer solution (MFTaaS) would help your business thrive.
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.