Sterling Enhances Managed File Transfer Products
September 23, 2008 Alex Woodie
Sterling Commerce last week unveiled two new solutions aimed at easing the transfer of business information among trading partners. The first is File Gateway, a new component of Sterling’s Managed File Transfer (MFT) suite designed to consolidate the various methods of managing file transfers within the context of a service oriented architecture (SOA), and File Accelerator, another new MFT component that provides a UDP-based alternative to traditional FTP.
Many AS/400 shops are familiar with Sterling for its Gentran suite of EDI and B2B integration products. In recent years, the AT&T subsidiary has been looking to broaden its offerings, which it has accomplished through the introduction of a Java-based warehouse management system (WMS). Closer to its traditional core competency are the new MFT family of products, which were originally part of Gentran.
Now standing on its own (but with integration hooks for Gentran), the MFT suite is designed to help organizations safely manage high volumes of file transfers, and the transfer of large files. The suite originally was based on FTP, and surrounded that TCP-based protocol with tools for managing, monitoring, and securing the file transfers.
With the introduction of Sterling’s new File Gateway, the company is delivering a way for users to consolidate the management of file transfers and provide a single interface for executing file transfers, without regard to which applications, workflows, security mechanisms, or transfer protocols are being used. The software, which is based on the Sterling Integrator B2B platform, integrates with existing Sterling Connect solutions, and allows users to build connections to other partners with a template-based approach, and then monitor the execution of the transfers in real time from the management console.
The company also launched its Sterling File Accelerator (SFA), which is based on the existing Connect:Direct component of the MFT suite, but which uses the application-level protocol UDT instead of regular TCP, which makes SFA superior for transmitting larger files.
Sterling says standard TCP-based transfers often suffer from higher latency, which can have an especially big impact when large files are involved. By basing the SFA solution on UDP, Sterling is able to implement flow-control algorithms, which allows it to regulate network traffic more efficiently and therefore increase the speed compared to traditional file transfer methods.
“Trends such as globalization and outsourcing have increased file sizes and the distances they have to travel,” says Geoff Baird, a vice president in Sterling’s MFT business. “As these demands continue to grow, Sterling Commerce is in a unique position to add the speed of the UDT protocol to our . . . MFT offerings.”
The market for managed file transfer software is growing quickly. According to Gartner (which ranked Sterling in the leaders portion of a recent “Magic Quadrant”), the market for managed file transfer software and services is worth about $450 million per year, and is growing at a rate of 21 percent to 26 percent per year.