Whether your organization is debating on moving your file transfer process entirely to the cloud, adopting a hybrid environment, or using a hosted SaaS solution, review the considerations below to help better clarify and get the organizational support needed for a cloud-based file transfer solution.
There are no absolute right or wrong answers to the questions that may arise as you check out your options as all have their pluses and minuses to put up against the unique needs and use cases for your organization and all should be weighed not only as IT issues, but also as business issues.
Before deciding on a specific cloud file transfer solution or deployment, ask a few business-oriented questions around:
- Have you inventoried the data needed to move to the cloud? Not all may be required and reducing the amount of data exchanged can result in cost savings.
- Do you frequently work with data that falls under legal and/or compliance requirements of data movement and security?
- Are your trading partners needing cloud-based file transfers? You might require a solution with cloud connector support.
“Taking a deep dive into your organization’s needs for exchanging data in a cloud environment will also touch on areas such as assessing and collecting your current data, applications, and IT infrastructure; determining your overall goals for cloud migration; and whether it makes sense financially,” said Scott Messick, Lead Solutions Engineer, SFT, Fortra. “In addition, as this is a change that both your IT staff and users need to adopt quickly to keep business rolling uninterrupted, developing a feasibility plan and timeline for the change is key. This is especially true for highly regulated organizations where solutions with built-in compliance and security can provide the necessary parameters needed in the cloud,” he added.
Why Turn to the Cloud for File Transfers?
Organizations consider cloud migration for file transfers for mobility, flexibility, potential cost savings, easier collaboration, visibility, and more. Others decide the time is right when their infrastructure ages out and needs upgrades, or when trading partners demand a data exchange method capable of interacting with multiple cloud platforms or complex cloud components, where an on-premises set up becomes more challenging to integrate. Compliance requirements may also dictate a cloud solution to better meet security and auditing demands.
Here’s a few benefits organizations may cite for deploying a cloud file transfer solution:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity or expansion for systems, storage, etc.
- Measured service for monitoring or managing how much service is consumed in a specific time
- Greater efficiency
- Easy accessibility
- Flexibility and scalability of systems, storage, etc.
- Reliable technology
- Reduced costs to support infrastructure
- Business continuity/disaster recovery
- Geographic diversity
However, moving to the cloud can bring some challenges, including:
- Data (depending upon amount) can be costly
- Access requires high-speed connectivity
- Limited control over resources when turning over infrastructure to a cloud provider
- Could be challenging to move away from a cloud service provider
- Legal/compliance restrictions
- Lack of cloud knowledge by internal IT staff/users
10 Cloud Security Considerations
As security is an overarching goal no matter the deployment selected, organizations utilizing best practices need to be sure they address the following recommendations, as suggested by Fortra’s Messick:
- Ensure proper architecture of virtual networks (AWS, VPC, Azure VNET, etc.), and network security groups.
- To address the heavy push towards shared systems, consider implementing Zero Trust security principles to properly control system workflows. This disallows lateral movement of data. Use of Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions should incorporate secure connections, multi-factor authentication, as well as single sign-on capabilities, etc.
- Wherever possible, implement secure end-to-end connections.
- Deploy detection and response tools such as Web Application Firewalls (WAFs), Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) tools, etc.
- Consider forward as well as reverse proxy/bastion servers to prevent external connections from directly communicating with internal resources. External or public hosts should not be able to communicate directly with your internal or private resources on your LAN.
- Utilize similar controls, regardless of system type as well as the same level of application controls for application servers and networking devices.
- Central deployment of management and monitoring tools with the capability to scan physical, virtual, application and network devices is recommended. Management and monitoring tools should also address hybrid environments (patching, monitoring, management, vulnerability scanning, etc.)
- Put in place an incident investigation and response solution.
- Ensure your support staff is trained and capable of managing cloud infrastructure.
- Where applicable, deploy a content scanning solution and enforce threat protection and/or Data Loss Prevention (DLP) controls.
Supporting a Cloud Implementation
As with any process or organizational change, moving to the cloud is a commitment, even if you opt for a more turnkey, hosted cloud situation. To minimize the risk of business interruption and impact on operations implementation engineers and system administrators should be trained on the use and purpose of the cloud service to secure its full potential and to ensure all security requirements are met.
A centrally controlled and monitored platform can offer the visibility organizations need as to how the system is architected, what and how data is being transferred, who’s accessing that data, and where the data exists.
Organizations should also ask themselves: Do we have the time and resources, would we benefit from a provider with migration services, or would a hosted solution better serve our needs? In addition, identifying user-friendly solutions is key, as complicated ones can lead to users turning to insecure, free options, putting your data at risk for a breach or misuse.
Then, seek out those solution options that can satisfy your more technical and security-centric concerns, including:
- Will the cloud help meet increased security needs?
- Will moving to the cloud help satisfy audit, security, regulatory and compliance requirements?
- Do you have a preference as to an all-cloud, hybrid or SaaS environment?
- Do you have a need for fast or very large file transfers?
- Does your solution have disaster recovery, high availability or clustering to ensure business continuity in the cloud?
- Does your cloud solution automatically encrypt files with strong protocols at rest as well as in motion?
- Is the file transfer connection itself secure and reliable?
- Do you need a centralized solution for visibility and control?
- Is your solution rated highly by industry peers for security, ease-of-use, support, etc.?
- Can you monitor uptime, security events and vulnerabilities which may exist?
Related Reading: Buyer's Guide for Secure Managed File Transfer
How MFT Addresses Key Cloud File Transfer Considerations
Whether you go all-in on cloud file transfer, prefer a hybrid environment, or want to turn over your file transfer solution management to a provider, a robust, secure file transfer solution, such as Managed File Transfer (MFT), should offer enterprise-level security, automation, strong encryption protocols, detailed auditing and reporting, and user management so you can control who has access to your most sensitive data, wherever it is stored.
Moving business processes away from your premises and to the cloud can deliver a more agile and efficient way to work with the dispersed workforces organizations have today. Cloud-based business solutions, including cloud file transfer through MFT, can also offer:
Flexibility: The remote cloud-based servers can be located anywhere in the world to store and manage data without limits on location, allowing your users to access and work with files from wherever they may be, provided there’s internet access.
Costs: With physical infrastructure and maintenance costs removed, organizations can budget for cloud file transfer on a pay-as-you-go model versus a fixed, initial investment.
Scalability: As your organization’s needs change – either upwards or downwards in scale, a cloud platform can meet you where you’re at, without the risk of significant fixed costs up front.
Reliability: The risk of hardware failures goes away with cloud file transfers, as most platforms offer reliability through redundant systems.
Related Reading: Advantages of an Enterprise File Sharing Solution
How GoAnywhere MFT Supports Cloud File Transfer
Robust MFT options, such as Fortra’s GoAnywhere MFT, provide the centralization and security needed to encrypt valuable data while it’s in motion, as well as at rest in the cloud, on premises, or as a turnkey SaaS solution.
In addition to the broad advantages noted above, GoAnywhere MFT also offers:
- Automated Workflows: Schedule your file transfers to run when you want them to, no matter the size or format.
- Secure Mail: Authorized users can easily send files as secure “packages” to others without limits on file sizes or types,
- Secure Folders: You can monitor your files on cloud-based systems and run your workflows based on triggered events.
- Cloud connectivity through Integrations. Whether you’re moving completely to the cloud or partially you can streamline and work with cloud services such as SharePoint, Dropbox, and Salesforce through Cloud Connectors (lightweight cloud aps to connect with APIs such as SOAP and RESTful web services).
Self-hosted Cloud File Transfers with AWS, Azure or GCP
“If moving forward with a widely used cloud file transfer platforms such as AWS, Azure, or GCP, using a solution that offers multiple gateways and/or MFT servers to help ensure business continuity during migration, as well as critical load balancing and/or high availability,” noted Messick. “In addition, utilizing separate sites or environments can help prevent a site or system failure, which can result in untold financial and reputational costs. We recommend that your incoming connections be distributed across multiple nodes, as well as distributing any advanced workloads across multiple nodes for the best reliability.”
Hosted or SaaS File Transfers
“Managing file transfers with a hosted MFTaaS solution gives you the flexibility to transfer files from any device with an internet connection, making it easier for dispersed workforces to conduct business and collaborate securely,” added Messick. “Plus, you can be up and running quickly, with less time and cost of an on-premises system. By turning over the essential management and hosting responsibilities to your provider, you can start exchanging sensitive business data immediately.”
For added security, GoAnywhere MFTaaS utilizes GoAnywhere Gateway, which is a forward and reverse proxy which prohibits external connections from directly accessing internal resources. It also includes an SSL termination feature to eliminate the need to deploy additional devices or expose servers for certificate renewal. This frees up CPU time when encrypting and decrypting connections.
Hybrid Cloud File Transfer
“Some of our customers land on a hybrid arrangement for their file transfers, as not all data needs to live in the cloud,” noted Messick. “This provides the ultimate in flexibility for businesses, as you can take advantage of integration with cloud applications and services like SharePoint, Salesforce, and Dropbox while also protecting data that may need to exist on-premises. Our cloud connectors can be enabled with APIs like SOP and Restful web services and support all the automation and security of an on-premises or full cloud deployment.”
Considering the Cloud? Consider How GoAnywhere MFT Can Help.
GoAnywhere MFT is flexible, scalable, highly available, and offers fast, controllable upgrades. Operating GoAnywhere in a cloud environment can help your organization secure and exchange data with user-friendly ease, even in the event of unexpected downtime or disaster.