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IBM Taught Me - FTP Servers Are Like Cockroaches

I was privileged to be in Singapore this week attending an IBM workshop on their excellent B2B Integration portfolio - think EDI, managed file transfer, secure proxy and other unexciting but desperately important components of your IT environment.

Safe to say I didn't expect to laugh during the session. Part way through the first day, though, and Don Davis, who heads the channel for IBM in this area, quoted Tom McLaughlin, the SVP and director of Technology Management Services at Wells Fargo Bank in the US. Tom sees FTP servers as the cockroaches of the IT landscape because, "it hides in the dark corners of the organisation" and they are "hard to kill". How funny, but how true.

Most organisations we work with have FTP in some form in their organisation, usually because it is quick and dirty (just like a cockroach) to implement. There are serious problems with FTP, though. It is inherently insecure in most cases, and by its very nature is unmanaged. It's also pretty unreliable, with a quoted 8% of transfers failing according to research undertaken by Vanson Bourne. And at around 24 minutes to track down each failed transfer that adds up! All that time chasing cockroaches instead of doing something productive!

We're going to be offering FTP risk assessments to all of our corporate clients over the coming months. In the meantime if you've had enough of the cockroaches in your IT infrastructure get in touch with us. At Team we've got a group of certified Managed File Transfer professionals with family-sized cans of bug spray.

I've come away from this week with a new appreciation of just how good the IBM solutions are in this area (they are leaders in virtually every industry analyst's view) and also how much risk there is out there, not to mention how much money our customers could save by implementing a more disciplined approach to the files coming into and leaving their organisation.

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