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What is SFTP Automation?

SFTP is a common file transfer method for organizations and systems to share and exchange files securely. Due to its compliance recognition with both PCI and HIPAA, SFTP has been the de facto method of choice for health, finance and other compliance driven industries for years to receive and share data with external clients and vendors.

Although it has been in the market for sometime and is a recognised standard, the adoption of SFTP in the cloud is a fairly recent adoption, as expected, and not many platforms truly offer this, but the next stage is the utilization of SFTP as an ingestion or sharing method as part of a wider file workflow that ties into an ETL pipeline or other automation process which is between systems (no human or manual involvement).

SFTP Automation is a process where data is sent or received over the SFTP protocol that has either already been transformed prior to sending, has been sent automatically from a system or on receiving an action is taken on the files automatically based on specific triggers and conditions.

file automation sftp ftp
An example of pulling data from an SFTP server to SharePoint in Couchdrop

Some use cases that organizations use SFTP automation for are:

  • Routing files based on file names to different destination folders or storage locations (i.e. a file may be sent to SharePoint, another sent to an Azure bucket)
  • Decrypting and encrypting files with PGP in real-time
  • Copying files from/to a remote SFTP server to cloud storage
  • Compressing files/decompressing folders automatically prior to sending/on receiving
  • Or, a combination of the above mashed into a single automation

Some considerations when looking for an SFTP automation platform is that the platform you are looking to adopt actually supports the endpoints you require, whether these be remote servers, traditional file servers and/or cloud storage, and whether it is a real-time transfer or a delayed sync functionality. Other considerations are the deployment of the solution and whether you need to manage the infrastructure itself which involves opening up your infrastructure to the public cloud, or whether you would rather a solution handle this as a gateway.

A more hybrid option to adopt a solution like this is to run a SaaS platform in front of your file server where you don’t need to run SFTP on your file server or open it up to the cloud, but rather install an agent and have a cloud SaaS platform act as a file transfer gateway to your file server to ensure a secure and robust solution requiring very little management and monitoring.

Overall a cloud hosted SaaS cloud SFTP and file automation platform can increase productivity and communication within and organization and internally while offering a highly available service to meet critical workflow requirements.

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