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Integrating File Transfer Solutions with Applications and Directories

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Integrating applications improves speed, efficiency, and business process innovation. And thanks to today’s interconnected, globalized workplace, the need for robust application integration holds more urgency than ever before.

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that managed file transfer (MFT) technologies aren’t exempt from the application integration trend. In fact, an MFT solution’s ability to integrate with other business-critical applications is uniquely important since so many processes depend on file transfer, both within and outside the enterprise.

Let’s look at how an effective MFT solution handles application integration. We’ll also discuss how it should leverage LDAP and Active Directory support.
MFT and application integration
One of the biggest drawbacks of homegrown file transfer solutions has always been their lack of integration with other front and backend IT systems. Consider an organization on the cusp of instituting corporate BYOD guidelines. How will it account for users transferring files via Apple’s iOS when its file transfer solution only integrates with the Outlook desktop client?

Hint: users will still transfer files, albeit via unmanaged, insecure methods.

Unfortunately, the problems many organizations experience as they attempt to reign in control of file transfer activities are rarely this straightforward. Integration needs are often numerous and complex, requiring an MFT solution with extensive flexibility.

That’s why organizations should focus on MFT technologies with open standards, SOAP and JMS interfaces, Java classes, and open APIs. As we concluded in a white paper on market demands for MFT solutions, these components facilitate application integration across the corporate spectrum and deliver the scalability necessary to evolve with changing business needs.

What about LDAP and Active Directory?
Support for LDAP and Active Directory is key to the success of many MFT integrations. But before we delve into why, let’s remind ourselves what these concepts are about (you can always refer our MFT glossary for definitions).

LDAP, or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, helps applications access a server hosting a directory. Directories usually contain data about individual users such as – and this is what matters for MFT – their specific network privileges. Active Directory, on the other hand, is a type of directory that uses LDAP to “talk” to applications requiring information about user privileges. It’s the directory service Microsoft created for Windows environments.

Why is support for LDAP and Active Directory so vital for MFT integration? Here are a few reasons:

Ubiquity – A Microsoft service, Active Directory is extremely prevalent across enterprise, so supporting it is absolutely necessary.
Application access – Many applications an organization seeks to integrate with MFT will depend on LDAP and/or Active Directory to obtain user data; the MFT solution, in turn, will need to use directory data to integrate with the existing applications.
MFT access – As authorization and authentication are critical for ensuring the security of data in transit, MFT solutions need to pull data from existing directory services via LDAP.

An MFT solution doesn’t integrate with LDAP/Active Directory, per se. Rather, it uses the data they provide in order to integrate with other applications. Since flexible application integration depends on support for common directory standards and implementations, no viable MFT solution should lack support for them.

So, how does your file transfer solution handle application integration and support for common directory protocols and services? Is it a homegrown solution that’s struggling to keep up with technology? Or are your users still sharing in DropBox?

Regardless, you should always expect an MFT solution to integrate seamlessly with existing applications. Modern business realities depend on it.

This is the eighth post in a 10-part series on managing file transfers. Read rest of the series here. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to receive the next posts.

Integrating File Transfer Solutions with Applications and Directories is a post from: Data In Motion

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More Stories By Tom Scearce

Tom Scearce is product marketing manager at Attachmate and Novell for the enterprise file management market. He has 19 years of marketing, sales, product management and consulting experience in a variety of industries including software, professional services, telecommunications, media, medical devices and health/fitness services. Tom holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.