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Do you have multiple legacy MFT (Managed File Transfer) platforms?

By Tom Skeen

Over the years many large enterprise organizations have merged and as a result there are many legacy MFT platforms that firms have been stuck with supporting. Many of these platforms are running on outdated hardware and software and are very problematic. Migrating to a target platform should be priority for you if you are in this situation.

Getting to the target platform should be quite apparent to everyone in this situation for many reasons. These migration motives range from unsupported software to high-security risks in these outdated platforms. The problems that most encounter are usually around resources, time and money and the fear of making an external customer change how they exchange data.

In this article we are going to talk about some high-level strategies and motives for getting to a target state. Probably the single most important item to getting to a target state is around security. It’s obvious that the older MFT platforms are not secure and or do not take advantage of the latest and greatest security technology. However, the fear of “waking up the external customer” concerns most business bankers. My take is that if you are honest with them and carefully layout the risks of the older platforms, they will understand and will be willing to migrate.

Now lets look at the top reasons to migrate file transmissions to a target platform:

  1. Lack of security
  2. Outdated technology
  3. Unsupported MFT applications
  4. Larger than necessary technology footprint
  5. Too many resources needed to support older technologies

Next lets take a look at an approach to this massive migration initiative – I call it the “90/10 approach”. It can be an overwhelming task, but if you break it down into smaller steps you can reduce the cost and effort to perform, the impact to your internal and external trading partners and the time to complete the full migration.

  1. Notify all affected partners well in advance
  2. Document all of the use cases, features, functions and protocols that you have in the legacy and future state platforms. There will most likely be some that you will not carry forward
  3. Separate the file transfer routes into two categories: Simple and Complex. I have found that 90% are simple and 10% or less are complex
  4. Prepare to migrate the complex routes manually over a 11 month period
  5. Prepare to perform a DNS/URL/IP redirect on month 12 for the remaining 90% from the legacy to the target platform

This might sound overly simplified and for the purpose of this article, that is correct. You will have other steps to take care of such as: what if a customer won’t migrate, what if there are routes that break on the DNS/URL/IP redirect, but if you have documented all of your use cases, features and functions correctly and completely your impact will be minimized.

I have been a part of many MFT system and client migrations over the years. Some have all been done manually and some have been done with DNS/UR/IP redirects and I have determined that a blended approach is the most effective for many reasons. This saves time, money and resources. There would be nothing worse than spending many years and millions of dollars manually migrating customers to a target platform to later find that upon migrating the last customer you have to start the whole process over again.
The “90/10 approach” will minimize your risk, reduce the money spent and significantly lessen the hassle for your customers and staff!

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