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Migrating to Cloud SFTP from traditional servers and other solutions

Migrating to a new solution can be daunting and can seem like a large undertaking by an organisation, especially if it is critical and business dependancy means it can’t skip a beat, or someone set it up years ago (and has since left) and everyone is too scared to touch it.

secure file transfer and file automation platform
User management within Couchdrop’s Cloud SFTP and File Automation

Rest assured, moving to a new platform, especially a modern one, doesn’t have to be difficult or tiresome. Especially with a Cloud SFTP server preparation and communication is key, as with any organisational change. Below we are going to look at the steps it takes to transfer your workload to Couchdrop - the Cloud SFTP and File Automation platform.

An important item to note is that you will never do this alone with Couchdrop. Even though you may not need it, Couchdrop provides engineering support right from the start to help with planning, configuration and support to help you achieve your desired outcomes. There is no cost for this and is part of the base service. Simply reach out to or book in a technical call.

Steps to adopt a new solution (summary):

  1. Audit your current platforms usage and what is actually being used
  2. Ensure your new solution can meet your current and future requirements
  3. For SFTP, take note of all usernames, credentials (if you have access), root folders and permissions.
  4. Using a solution such as Movebot, run a discovery scan to understand your file structure and use to migrate data and folder structure from your current solution using its SFTP or another cloud storage connection.
  5. For automation and workflows, draw out your file workflows and annotate around expectations and what should happen at each step.
  6. While running your current platform, configure storage and build out your new platform with SFTP users, map their directories
  7. Create your file automation and workflows in the new platform
  8. When ready communicate with your end users and it is often as easy as switching over the hostname that they connect to your new platforms sub-domain (CNAME record).

Steps to adopt a new solution (detailed):

Step 1. Audit current platform

When looking to adopt a new solution it is paramount to truly understand how your current system is configured and its usage. This not only helps with adopting a new solution when coming to configure, but also how many active workflows are actually required? Do you have 50 SFTP users but 20 are inactive? Has an organisation been attempting to send you files but has been unsuccessful for a period of time? This is a prime opportunity to also cut costs where unneeded operations are running but also workflows can possibly be simplified through a more modern approach. Screenshots are a good way to collect everything as you go through all pages as when you lose access to your current solution, you still retain a record.

Items to look at when auditing your current platform are:

  • Amount of active versus inactive SFTP/FTP users
  • User configurations (great time for a security checkup): permissions, directories, actions, behaviour, passwords, keys
  • Storage: directory structure, file locations, storage utilisation, permissions, could it be moved to a cloud storage solution rather than relying on a third party
  • Inboxes and portal configurations
  • IP addresses used both with yourself and your partners for connecting
  • Failing transfers or highly utilised connections
  • File automations and workflows: configuration, whether they are still required, are they optimal or have you got three workflows that could be condensed into one
  • Alerting and other configuration such as locale for compliance

Step 2. Find the right solution to grow with you

Now that you understand your current use cases, how your organisation uses the the product, first check do you actually need to move to a new solution? If yes, does the new solution tick all of the boxes? Can it scale to meet future requirements? Is it secure? Is it a more modern solution than you’re currently using or is it getting on and it has been adapted to work with the cloud rather than being cloud native?

Also look at pricing and the business relationship, how does the solution scale with pricing, are there volume discounts, are you forced into three yearly commitments? Are you being phoned and does the companies culture align to you and your direction? Remember features and product can be easily implemented and iterated with the right solution, but being stuck in a bad relationship can hurt over the long term.

Step 3. Take note of SFTP and user configuration

Now that you’ve decided on a new platform, it’s time to make sure you have all of the right details to get going. The easiest to get is user configuration that could be used for an organisation to share or send files with you. The items that are noteworthy are:

  • Username
  • Email address
  • Password and/or RSA key
  • Directories that the user has access to and the permissions tied to these
  • Access permissions such as does the user have access to SFTP but not FTP, or a web portal but not email upload
  • Firewall IP addresses to whitelist
  • Anything else noteworthy that could be used later on i.e. does this user have notifications configured for when a file is dropped or sent in

Step 4. Storage configuration

Some platforms allow you to mount your cloud storage (SharePoint, S3, Dropbox, Google Cloud or Azure), if this is the case it is worth understanding how this connection works and its configuration, for example where the root directory resides. Otherwise if using a vendors storage, what does the directory structure look like, where is the storage hosted and how easy is it going to be to get the data out of there?

If migrating from location that supports SFTP you could utilise a solution such as Movebot which can migrate files and the folder structure from an SFTP server to another or to a cloud storage location if you wished to save time recreating everything. Otherwise if leveraging cloud storage you can often just connect it at the new platform without the need to change or recreate any objects.

Step 5. Draw out automation and workflows

It is good practice to draw out the workflows that are going to be configured on the new platform, this not only helps when it comes to configuring the workflows and automations on the new platform, but also assists with visualising the stages and helps to see if there are any redundant steps or steps that can be visualised.

Step 6 & 7. Configure new platform

This is point where all of the pre-work comes into play, you should now configure everything in the new platform and have everything in place ready for cutover. This includes configuring the users, automations, workflows, storage, directories and any other settings that will be required.

Often you can reach out to the new company for support during this and they may be able to assist with configuration, for example in the backend they may be able to bulk upload users, or help ensure your automations are configured appropriately to get your desired outcome.

Step 8. Cutover

It’s time to adopt the new solution. Leading up to cutover and the adoption of the new platform it is strongly recommended that you be transparent with your partners and customers and communicate and send through new information ahead of time. Occasionally it can take partners up to 10 working days to adopt new changes such as a change of IP address or password, however if using a hostname and username and key, a lot of this leads to the end partner not having to change anything as it will redirect with time.

A key item that could be forgotten as a wholeis the internal processes that may need to change as well when moving to a new provider or potentially if adopting cloud storage for the first time, you may no longer need to work through your file transfer solution, and rather interact directly with the backend storage. For example you could interact directly with Google Cloud through the Google ecosystem, or potentially you have someone in accounts who can interact with the data via the SharePoint sync agent on their computer.

While this article may seem long winded and complex, it can really be straightforward if the right preparations are put in place and there is an understanding of the current state versus the end goal. In the end there are teams within the likes of Couchdrop who are happy to help and available.

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