Scripting is a popular and powerful choice to automate repeatable file transfer tasks. It can be horrifying, though, to discover just how many scripts are relied on for the successful operation of your infrastructure. This and the time they take to execute are sure to raise the ire of managers and executives. Here are some alternative file-based automation methods to reduce time and errors in common tasks that can benefit from file encryption, deployment redirection, scheduling and more.
It used to be that deployment meant occasionally copying files to a set of physical servers that sat in a datacenter, maybe even on premises. Often this was done via FTP and terminal sessions directly with server names or addresses. If you were smart, you created scripts with the files, their locations and servers hardcoded into them.
Automated scripts are an excellent first step, but they have limitations. When a new server is added, for example, an old one is upgraded or replaced, or virtualization demands changing names and addresses. The result? Script failure. Also, changing OS platforms means a single set of scripts won't work across all of your servers. Scripts can be error-prone, too, and slow down if they're not compiled ahead of time.
With the emergence of agile and DevOps practices, there's no time to manage these ever-changing environments, so the simplest route is to not do it at all. But because you still need to deploy software somewhere, API-based systems help you achieve the automation required without hardcoding the details. The end product is a much more efficient file transfer process.
File-based automation reduces the time you spend scripting. How? Encryption, or redirecting files upon their arrival to the right servers. The consistency and predictability of this process ensures you meet your service-level agreements (SLAs), which stipulate repeatability and the removal of errors. But, in order to achieve the performance metrics you need when working in an agile and nimble organization, you need more than that.
An enterprise-grade managed file transfer solution enables you to transfer files reliably, securely and quickly. Look for a solution that offers an event-driven workflow wherein processes are kicked off either according to a schedule or on-demand based on a trigger. Additionally, file transfer workloads need to happen in parallel, simultaneously deploying across your environments to limit the time it takes to deploy changes.
For peace of mind (yours, specifically), your file transfer solution needs to be hardened. Make sure it uses encryption for all file transfers and integrates with your enterprise identity management to control access to all of your environments. Ultimately, this helps you to conform to the requirements of the most regulated markets (health care and financial, for instance) — as well as local legislation. Your security control should be automated as well, through the use of policy enforcement with secure solutions for authentication (think RADIUS or LDAP).
Finally, you need to know the status of all transfer operations at a glance. With DevOps, constant process monitoring and measuring will lead to further improvements and the removal of bottlenecks. Ensure you have the proper level of reporting and visualization into your file transfers, including those completed, those that may have failed and those that are ongoing.
You may need to encrypt and move a file that was just extracted from a business system and is now sitting on a shared drive inside the trusted network. Maybe you need to move an encrypted file sitting on an FTP server in your business partners data center. You need the flexibility to encrypt, rename, process and transfer files from any server and deliver them where you need it.
Whether you're still working on-premises or you've already moved many of your systems to the cloud, your file transfer processes should work across both. The reality is that most organizations will continue to keep data living on both, likely settling on a hybrid on-premises and public-cloud mix for security and control purposes. Just as the cloud promises to transparently move user workloads across servers in both environments, your file transfer and deployment solution should do the same. In the end, good management will treat you like the hero you are.
View all posts from Eric Bruno on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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