nuBridges SFTP Software Now Native on IBM i
March 8, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that use managed file transfer (MFT) software from nuBridges will be happy to know that the latest iteration of nuBridges Exchange i includes an implementation of the SFTP protocol that’s native to the IBM i OS. nuBridges says customers will see easier implementation and maintenance, and better throughput compared to the previous iteration of the Secure Shell-based protocol in Exchange i, which was written in Java.
nuBridges Exchange i is an MFT solution that enables organizations to manage the secure distribution of files among internal and external users. Like most MFT solutions, Exchange i supports a range of protocols, including SFTP, FTPS (based on SSL encryption), FTP encrypted with PGP, and HTTPS. AS1, AS2, and AS3 are also supported for EDI transactions. Error monitoring and notification are built into the software, as is the capability to automatically kick off CL programs. All transactions are logged, providing an audit trail for compliance purposes.
With previous iterations of the software, nuBridges utilized a Java-based FTPS client that didn’t run natively on the IBM i platform. Customers could run it under the PASE runtime for AIX, or run it on an outboard PC server. But this was less than ideal for some of nuBridges customers, according to Meredith Russell, a senior product manager for the Exchange product line.
For these customers, “Anything that’s not 100 percent native is not as good, regardless of how it performs,” she tells IT Jungle. “They just prefer the completely native thing. It makes things more robust, in our customers’ mind.”
With Exchange i 4.0, nuBridges has replaced the old Java-based FTPS client with a new client that’s written in C. The elimination of Java will probably make some clients happy.
While the old Java-based SFTP client undoubtedly got the job done, the big question for nuBridges’ IBM i customers was how it got the job done. According to Russell, the new native IBM i client offers a cleaner overall experience, from setup and integration with CL programs, to production and ongoing maintenance.
“It streamlines what they have to set up or manage. Now they just have to say ‘use SSH’ in the profile. There’s no additional setup and no additional components,” Russell says. “Everything is all contained in one area. When you remove components or pieces, it removes opportunities for there to be failures.”
The outboard Java-based SFTP client used to be a performance bottleneck for some clients. Because the SFTP client is native to IBM i, any improvements customers make to their Power Systems hardware will speed up the processing of SFTP transactions. (Encryption tasks tend to eat up CPU cycles.)
nuBridges is seeing increasing demand for SFTP capabilities from its customers, Russell says. “It appears there are a lot more trading partner mandates these days requiring SSH, as opposed to SSL or PGP,” she says. Companies are saying that “FTP and SSH are going to be our corporate standards, because it’s believed to be more secure.”
Exchange i 4.0 also gives customers more options when it comes to user-based authentication (which involves user IDs and passwords) or certificate-based authentication (which uses public or private keys). “Because security is on everybody’s mind, and because they’re moving to SSH-based security due to various security mandates from partners and internally, the way customers authenticate to trading partners is important,” she says. “We made improvements there, and offer customers more options for them to meet whatever mandate there is.”
nuBridges charges extra for the SFTP client, whereas FTPS is offered as part of the core FTP offering. The entire Exchange i product suite resembles an a la carte menu, with various options that customers can choose to buy, depending on their requirements. For example, the ASx (including AS1, AS2, and AS3) functionality is priced as an add-on.
Pricing for nuBridges Exchange i can start as low as $2,000, but a typical installation is going to be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. For more information, see www.nubridges.com.