This is the first of a three part blog series that gives some modern day love to older technologies that work seamlessly with cloud-based data integrations. First up: our good friend the File Transfer Protocol, Mr. FTP.
Plug in the lava lamp, dust off your Rubik’s Cube and let’s boogie back to the days before widespread Internet commercialization or even the PC itself.
Back in the day, computers typically filled entire rooms, cost millions, used vast amounts of power and were very specialized and slow. Only the biggest businesses or research institutions could afford them, and integration ranged from ad hoc to impossible. However, this epoch marked a time of breathtaking technological breakthroughs that laid the groundwork for important cloud integration technologies in widespread use today.
As you’ve probably guessed, I have a particular affinity for technologies that have withstood the test of time, and FTP has certainly done that. I need not go into the technical intricacies of FTP, but I’ll give a quick definition here: FTP is an acronym for “File Transfer Protocol,” and is simply a standardized way to transfer just about any kind of computer files from one place to another via a TCP-based (transmission control protocol) network, such as the Internet. As far as integration goes, FTP proves to be an amazingly versatile means of moving data for both A2A (application-to-application) and B2B (business-to-business) integrations.
The most simplified view often looks like this: the source system drops batched data into an internal folder where it’s either pulled from or pushed to the Liaison cloud. Liaison DXP (Data eXchange Platform) then maps, transforms, applies business rules and transmits the data to a destination system (let’s say an ERP). It really is magic in motion, and drastically simplifies complex integrations. Also, there are a wide range of FTP security protocols that help ensure secure data transmission.
One of the beauties of integrating over the cloud is that it doesn’t require costly system purchases or upgrade investments. Clients envision Liaison as an opportunity to forgo much of the research, purchasing, installation, infrastructure, licensing, maintenance, support, upgrade and risk mitigation costs associated with new backend systems or technologies. After all, why throw out a perfectly working FTP-capable system that needs to integrate data with a new ERP when Liaison can handle both the integration and data transformation over the cloud? Genius!
All this talk has prompted me to plug in my Apple IIe, pop in my favorite 5.25” floppy and find out just where in the world Carmen Sandiego is. I’ll let you know when I find out.
Next time we’ll discuss a venerable powerhouse file type perfect for cloud integrations: EDI and its various flavors.
More FTP fun:
- There are loads of fantastic FTP clients out there that you can play around with. My favorite open source one is FileZilla, which you can download for free here.
- I found this to be an amazing read – check out the original 1971 FTP standard, which is the brilliant brainchild of MIT’s Project MAC: http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc114.