Creating a strategic infrastructure . . .

Don Miller

Technology infrastructures, much like living organisms, grow and evolve in order to sustain meaningful existence within their environments.  Unlike living organisms, though, the growth experienced by technology is applied in layers without removing or replacing the older components.  This inevitably creates infrastructures with processes and operations that are vastly more complicated and bloated than they need to be.

These complicated and bloated infrastructures resolve only tactical needs/requirements for the promotion of specific processes or operations, while ignoring what should be more prevalent—the sustainable infrastructure.  In other words, it is a forest and trees scenario in which the focus is more often on the trees.  The preference is for a more balanced approach.

When reviewing the various data streams and exchanges handled by the infrastructure, the steady growth in terms of both interactions and data quantity give some explanation as to the growth, which we can deem organic.  The worrisome side, though, is the inorganic growth caused by the utilization of point solutions, and layering them over time, causing a spawn of tactical solutions that evolve into a “strategic” environment.

The deployment of point solutions over time creates a cycle that promotes the inorganic growth of the “bloated” infrastructure.  This cycle is spherical in the sense that there is no beginning or end when addressing requirements from any player; each deployment is deemed necessary in order to support the businesses’ ability to maintain and grow.

Thus, the challenge for any such organization is:  How do we combat inorganic growth and still support the needs of the business while not causing bloat in order to sustain?  The best answer is convergence and consolidation.  Convergence is the bringing together of two or more points into one at a common end point.  Consolidation is the combining of two or more processes into one.  To visualize this, imagine a series of points on two distinct lines; convergence would be the lines coming together, while consolidation would be the combining of the points to lessen the quantity in the series.  Another way to visualize this would be to imagine two roads merging into one with people riding together in busses rather than cars.

Now let’s examine these two principles from the perspective of data transmissions.

Convergence of transmissions to a single point behind the corporate firewall would entail the bringing together of the various file transfer services and solutions into a single solution, thereby creating a single entrée into the organization for trading partners and system exchanges.  It is, in essence, a hub model which is secure by design since it dispenses all of the independent and rogue transmission channels into a singular flow within a single pipe.  This also breaks down the business silos by not allowing each type of flow to use its own tactical solution.  The result is a single, secure, strategic transmissions solution that affords complete auditability and accountability for the entire organization.

Consolidating all of the FTP, FTPs, AS2, etc., traffic into combined flows promotes security and streamlines the environments by taking advantage of the security provided for all the flows, and the hardware required to support and scale becomes singular.  The value of the upfront efforts at deployment will greatly outweigh the ongoing maintenance, and coordinating for security and compliance becomes a centrally administrable function.  Thus, the consolidation of transmissions by protocols into a converged gateway requires much less administrative and operative input since it is now centralized and singular.

Because the converged and consolidated transmission platform replaces numerous point solutions, the organization can be optimally effective and secure since there would be only one entry and exit point for data and file transmissions.  More beneficial is the elimination of the crossover abilities of the solutions and platforms that created security and audit voids due to the sheer number of possible channels for the data to flow.

The same practices of convergence and consolidation apply to other services and solutions in the organization.  The goal is to review what is in place today and peel back the layers in order to work towards operational efficiencies that will allow the business to scale while utilizing the technologies that make you easy to do business with.

Overall, this strategy will provide a smarter infrastructure, support organic growth and adhere to all security and compliance requirements without sifting through multiple layers of multiple solutions.  Strategic planning for the enterprise should include efforts to consolidate and converge in order to limit point solutions and create simpler patterns and flows.  The aspiration of the past is the possibility of today; meaning we can do more with less in a more meaningful way.

bTrade can help in that regard.  For more than 20 years, bTrade has supported and promoted converging and consolidating data flows by simplifying data exchanges.  Today, secureXchange is the embodiment of that experience.  It is the most simple-to-use and scalable managed file transfer and secure data transmissions platform that you can find.  secureXchange is what MFT is supposed to be.