Sometimes our clients are looking for managed file transfer (MFT) solutions because they've decided it's time to invest in a better, more secure way of handling sensitive data. Other clients, like the City of Modesto, California, find themselves facing requirements from trading partners that leave little option but to upgrade their processes.
The Challenge: XML Reporting
The challenge that initiated Modesto's search for an MFT solution is one many state agencies face. In California, all government agencies and organization are required to submit employee payroll data to the California Public Employee Retirement Systems (CalPERS) through a complex XML format.
Michael Bumanlag, IT Administrator and Software Analyst at Modesto, was responsible for this project but had limited knowledge of XML. So he began looking for tools that could help expedite the reporting process. Modesto initially looked at a customized solution, but the consultative costs were not affordable.
While testing a trial of GoAnywhere MFT, Bumanlag discovered that one of its many features would allow him to create the files CalPERS required, and with the help of a GoAnywhere engineer, he soon had the project designed and running smoothly.
"Some consultants believed that this would be too difficult to do in house," Bumanlag admitted, "but thanks to GoAnywhere, we were successful and the process was easier than I initially expected"
Using GoAnywhere, the CalPERS project generates multiple queries against the Modesto payroll database to create the required XML file, and then integrates those queries into the final report. GoAnywhere encrypts the XML file with Open PGP, sends it to the SFTP server at CalPERS, and then confirms that the file was received and accepted.
Bumanlag was impressed. "Other agencies in California are still struggling to build a system from scratch, and are spending so much time and money to do that, and GoAnywhere solved the whole problem for us quickly and affordably!"
One of the greatest advantages Bumanlag sees with GoAnywhere is its versatility.
Versatility Is a Big Advantage
"We bought GoAnywhere to help with our CalPERS project, but it can do so much more. We're always finding new projects that GoAnywhere can tackle," Bumanlag said.
For example, when the city upgraded to the new ERP system, the IT staff needed a way to get the archived information moved to the new system in an easy, reliable and automated way -- and as quickly as possible.
"With our old financial system, we had a part-time night operator manually transfer this information," Bumanlag explained. "However, our utility billing data files are generated during the late evening after the night operator leaves, so GoAnywhere gave us a way to automate this and other file transfer processes destined for our new ERP system."
Benefit of Email Integration
Bumanlag cites a number of features that have made a difference in his department's workflow. First, he says GoAnywhere's Secure Mail feature makes it possible to keep everyone in the loop.
"GoAnywhere can actually read an email, call a project, send an email confirmation, and coordinate with other benefit providers, too," he said.
Furthermore, because projects can be initiated via email rather than having to log in to the GoAnywhere interface, more users can take advantage of it without needing direct access to the product.
The City of Modesto manages projects and processes on many different servers, all running at different times, which made it hard to track the status of projects.
"The nice thing about GoAnywhere is that it can talk to all of the systems and manage it all from one place," Bumanlag said.
For example, one important project Bumanlag manages is handling the city's utility bills that go out to residential customers. Bumanlag's staff must first send the bills to an outside vendor via a scheduled FTP task. That vendor processes them and converts them to PDFs. When each batch is complete, the vendor emails Bumanlag so he can retrieve the converted files.
"Now that we're using GoAnywhere to manage this project, we've got another level of reassurance because of the auto start FTP feature and GoAnywere's error notification," Bumanlag said.
"Our old FTP project manager created logs, but it was not easy to get to the logs plus you really didn't know if the FTP task was ever actually completed. How would you know to look at the logs if you didn't know the ftp task failed? Fortunately, that's not the case with GoAnywhere."
GoAnywhere has also improved workflows between the Utility Billing Division (UBD) within Modesto's customer service department and the IT staff. When the outside print vendor was ready to print the utility bills, they would send an email to the UBD staff to get approval to print.
"Following up took a lot of time," he said. "Now, GoAnywhere looks for the email, and notifies me immediately, which prevents any delay with our bill printing process."
Not only did GoAnywhere automate the entire process, it also compared the list of files the vendor said should be there with what the program actually found, and notified Bumanlag of any disparities. Then, it kept looking for additional files that may straggle in.
Easy Connection with Databases
Another example that Modesto's IT staff found especially valuable is GoAnywhere's ability to communicate with almost any database.
Most of the data Bumanlag manages comes from Oracle and DB2 databases, but the city was also using a Progress OpenEdge database. The staff had almost given up being able to integrate the data from the OpenEdge database because none of the tools they had could communicate with it. Once they implemented GoAnywhere, that problem was solved, and now the OpenEdge database is again a part of the data workflow.
Help for More City Offices
Other Modesto city offices have also begun implementing GoAnywhere. Trey Lackey manages workflows in the city building permits department, and one of his tasks is to search the database for permits that are newly approved so he can send a survey out to the parties involved. Now he's using GoAnywhere to automatically search for those permits and then send the surveys without any manual intervention on his part.
Bumanlag lists numerous benefits he's found with GoAnywhere.
- It can deal with a variety of file types, and communicate with disparate servers and platforms
- Its job logs show exactly what's happening
- The functionality is dependable: "Once it works, it works."
- Email communication, especially for initiating projects and verifying their completion, saves significant time and hassle
Bumanlag sums up his experience with GoAnywhere this way: "Given how affordable GoAnywhere is and how many ways we use it, it just seems too easy."
You can learn more about the City of Modesto, CA by visiting their website.