From its inception in 1980, File transfer Protocol (FTP) has made moving large volumes of bulk data between any two entities—including file servers, applications, and trading partners—possible. However, FTP (and other communication protocols such as HTTP and SMTP) do not, on their own, provide a way to secure or manage the payload or the transmission. This practice is changing, however. As more and more companies realise that FTP is not an option for secure file transfer, Managed File Transfer (MFT) is becoming a necessity, not an option. So what additional functionality does a MFT solution provide? BusinessComputingWorld spoke to Stonebranch’s CEO, Wolfgang Bothe, to find out more. Interview by Christian Harris.
BCW: Stonebranch is an American company headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Is the UK market important to you?
WB: Stonebranch is essentially a global company, with offices throughout Europe and founders from Germany, Denmark and the United States. The UK is one of the key markets, not only from a European perspective, but also from a global one since the UK is a leader in the global financial markets and is a highly sophisticated and growing technology market in general. With key customers already established in UK, we are investing in the market to expand share and brand visibility. Part of the investment is in the growth of our indirect channels as noted in a recent press release of a key partnership and increased presence with sales force extensions.
BCW: Tell us a little about a typical Stonebranch customer.
WB: Until recently, our typical Stonebranch customer had a large distributed IT infrastructure; several platforms and various job scheduling and file transfer solutions. To put it from another perspective: Our typical customers had a lot of file transfers and other scheduled processes.
With our new product, Scribbos, we want to expand into completely new markets and customers. Individuals like you and me can use this product or small and medium companies like law firms or architects or even a Fortune 2000 enterprise. To accomplish this, we have taken both a traditional enterprise software approach and a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model to enable smaller organisations with less IT resources to easy adopt Scribbos for secure business communications and data exchange.
BCW: Which business sectors offer the largest growth potential?
WB: I think there is potential in every business sector, especially with Scribbos. Secure communication is still not taken seriously enough, as you can see when you read the headlines in newspapers and magazines. The secure transfer of information is something companies need to be very careful about, as data breaches and data loss bring a lot of negative press, and that is definitely something companies and enterprises need to avoid.
BCW: How are you planning to target these customers?
WB: We are using different channels. On one hand, we have already established our international presence outside of the U.S. Currently, we have subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and in Spain. We are planning to expand this throughout the world to serve our enterprise customers directly. We are also building a network of service providers and software companies, such as Grey Monarch in the UK, from an international perspective to sell Scribbos, Infitran or Indesca as part of their solution to their customers.
There is a big need for a solution that guarantees a safe way to communicate internally, but also externally with trading partners, the authorities or associates. Our solutions, Infitran and Indesca, are very strong in the area of automated movement of data between different systems. These products are very simple to implement and to use, but very sophisticated. In addition, Scribbos adds the ability not only for end users to communicate securely with each other, but also allows the user to receive data from different back-end applications—or to upload them to feed the systems in a secure manner.
BCW: 2009 marks an important milestone for Stonebranch—your 10th anniversary. What are your next steps to grow the company?
WB: With our solutions, Infitran and Indesca, we’ve grown consistently with about 30 percent growth each year, and we will continue to do so, if not more, with Scribbos now in our portfolio. The goal is to establish Scribbos as the defacto standard for online business communication.
BCW: Your Web site says that a secure FTP solution is no longer sufficient. How does your solution differ from traditional business communication tools such as FTP and e-mail?
WB: Many organisations may deploy FTP solutions and while this does support limited encryption of the session, the data at rest is not encrypted, putting this information at risk. FTP is not an intuitive solution and requires the users to have the skills, capabilities and tools to support the solution, which is often not the case. The software and connection configuration is time-consuming. On-going management is costly and too complex for many organisations.
Many people are under the assumption that FTP and e-mail are secure. This is not true. Recent headlines point to this fact. While e-mail is a pervasive technology that no business professional could do without, it’s not encrypted, enabling users to send confidential, proprietary or sensitive information unprotected. While FTP is free, it is not secure either. Scribbos, while as easy to use as e-mail, provides both the security and governance of Managed File Transfer. Since it does not have the size limitations of traditional e-mail, even large files can be sent via Scribbos. This eliminates the need for a cumbersome and insecure FTP solution for the transfer of large files.
BCW: You claim that you use the ‘most advanced’ technology available to protect information. What is this technology and why is it more secure than other solutions on the market?
WB: Scribbos is built leveraging industry standard technology from the Web layer to the database and each layer keeps the data encrypted. What this means is not only is the connection between the user and Scribbos encrypted via SSL, we also encrypt the data at rest with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the defacto standard for governments. Ultimately, Scribbos encrypts the messages and attachments, as they are stored on the servers that are not available with FTP or e-mail.
Furthermore, we will soon launch the capability to save attachments on the user’s system in encrypted form allowing for only the intended recipient to view the file on their laptop or desktop computer. The decryption will happen transparently on-the-fly when an application opens the file on behalf of an authorised user.
BCW: From infrastructure to people, secure file transfer needs to be adaptive to the situation. Whether it’s a solution for a global conglomerate’s data centre or a secure ad-hoc solution for a mobile application, a MFT solution should scale accordingly. What’s your take on this?
WB: This is the Stonebranch philosophy on Managed File Transfer. Infitran, our Intelligent File Transfer solution, was designed for the data center and is implemented on hundreds of thousands of servers. Scribbos is an ad-hoc file transfer solution that was developed for the end user who needs to quickly and easily communicate with other users and exchange confidential information. Together, our solutions truly provide secure file transfer from ‘infrastructure to people.’
BCW: Is your solution available in various deployment methods—whether it’s SaaS, on-premise software, as a mobile application or as a customised deployment option?
WB: Scribbos is available both as a SaaS offering and as an on-premise version. This way, a customer can both benefit from the rapid ROI by simply subscribing to Scribbos on our Web site or implement and manage the product according to his preferences and business needs. Also, we are offering Scribbos as an iPhone application, so people can use it on-the-go. The next releases will see other mobile devices being compatible to Scribbos.
BCW: MFT solutions that interoperate with other platforms and applications easily scale to meet an organisation’s needs. Is your solution sociable?
WB: Absolutely. Scribbos can be used as a separate product or can interoperate with our Managed File Transfer solution, Infitran. This is an absolute unique selling proposition for Stonebranch as companies can take advantage of central managing and monitoring of ad-hoc communication and data exchange. Additionally, both solutions are scalable to very large environments.
BCW: Do your auditing, reporting and password policy features comply with various UK government requirements such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley?
WB: Yes, all Stonebranch solutions were designed and developed to ensure compliance with UK regulations. Organisations need to comply to a host of governmental and industry specific requirements, such as Basel II, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley. The beauty of Scribbos is that the business professional does not have to worry about whether they are complying with these regulations. Scribbos does the work for you.
BCW: Tell us a little about the benefits of business process automation.
WB: Organisations are challenged daily to reduce cycle times, improve operations and to continuously change the way they do business?automating key business processes is a core competitive requirement for all sectors. Through automation, businesses can allocate their resources on higher value activities and increase productivity by focusing only on the exceptions, which is not possible without automation. In a highly manual environment, the people perform repetitive, not value-add activities that don’t improve their operations or their compliance. Automation also provides business the ability to govern the process through increased visibility and enforcement options not available in manual processes.
BCW: You have a new secure business communications solution called Scribbos. What does this do and who should consider using it?
WB: Scribbos can be used by any business professional or individual that needs to send confidential information or large files securely. Our packaging offers the right solution for everyone. From the healthcare, financial and insurance industries to smaller businesses, Scribbos scales to meet the needs of all businesses or individuals.
BCW: What’s next for Stonebranch in terms of technologies?
WB: Stonebranch will continue to add additional functionality to Scribbos. As we work to complete our Scribbos iPhone application, we are also looking to create an application for BlackBerry and Outlook integration. The great thing about Scribbos is that the possibilities are boundless.
BCW: Anything to add?
WB: We continue to see significant interest in securing communications, not just with inquiries such as yours, but from individuals, governments and corporations since they are being made increasingly aware of the risks associated with unmanaged data. The UK government alone has lost over 4 million records in recent years due to multiple issues such as the UK Ministry of Defense’s lost military IDs, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) leak of child benefit records, The Justice Ministry’s loss of supplier information and we have seen the largest loss at the Health Ministry.
Many of these could have been avoided with leveraging automated solutions that encrypt and manage the communications, rather than using the post to send CDs. Managing data continues to be a critical needs for everyone and the more that people know about the options to better secure their sensitive information the better, so I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion with this interview.