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Can't We All Just Get Along? Post-Merger IT Integration

By Kyle Parris TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Feb 4, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Enterprises that have merged with or acquired the systems and assets of another company know how difficult it is to combine disparate systems -- platforms, databases and software solutions -- with its existing infrastructure. Mergers can be very disruptive, especially if the companies have standardized on differing platforms, protocols and encryption methods.

Can't We All Just Get Along? Post-Merger IT Integration

Some of the issues inherent in combining systems, software and processes can be eliminated by replacing multiple legacy file transfer solutions with a single, platform-independent managed file transfer (MFT) solution. Not all MFT solutions are created equal, so it is important to evaluate them carefully to ensure that the one you choose supports all of the file transfer and management requirements currently in place within both organizations.

Post Merger: Eliminating the Complexity of Layered Architectures and Systems

It would be more of a coincidence than an expectation that two merging companies would have the same IT infrastructure and use the same file transfer protocols and encryption algorithms. Even if the goal is to eventually standardize on one platform, it's likely to be an evolutionary initiative. An MFT solution that integrates with any hierarchical file system to transfer any type of document, and also supports exchanges among most platforms, will ensure that it supports existing IT environments.

With previously separate organizations, there is a strong likelihood they will each be using different protocol standards for file transfer. For example, one company might use AS2, the other HTTPs or some secure flavor of FTP such as sFTP (SSH) or FTPs (SSL). An MFT solution that supports all standard transfer protocols will enable business continuity by allowing the previously separate entities to continue using established protocols to communicate internally and externally.

Preserving Business Processes

It is a given that each company will have its own business processes. An MFT solution should preserve these processes, in part, by providing the ability to control user access and the administration of transactions, including which transactions go to which business unit. For example, even though the two companies are now one, there may still be a reason to restrict administrators to having access to only one of the formerly separate company's transactions.

Choosing an MFT solution that incorporates business process management and intelligent routing -- which is the ability to look at a file and intuitively know how to route that file to the proper destination -- provides this control. The right MFT solution can effectively manage who has access to a transaction, who can administer it, and what happens to a file when it enters, or exits the new combined company's specific divisions.

As a related aspect of this, one company might allow individuals to transfer files, but the other might require IT to do all of the transfers. To minimize the merger/acquisition impact on each company's existing business processes, the MFT solution should be able to give the combined organization control over file transfers at a business level as well as on a more granular scale. Not to mention, a company that may have previously required all file encryption and secure transfers to be handled by IT may want to shift this responsibility to select business-unit employees to make the process more efficient. Selecting an MFT solution that supports differing business processes at various business levels minimizes disruption and provides the flexible option to remove the daily file transfer burden from IT by empowering end users to encrypt and send files securely.

What's more, using an MFT solution that has a service-oriented architecture (SOA) interface allows enterprises to incorporate file transfer operations and applications into existing business processes, and to also enable Web-based interfaces for user self-service operations such as business partner administration. During a merger or acquisition, SOA enables the different systems and processes to "talk" to the MFT solution. For example, each company will likely use a different order management system and both of these systems would be required to work directly with the MFT solution. SOA allows that communication to happen automatically, without the company incurring programming costs.

By definition, best-in-class managed file transfer solutions are designed for heterogeneity, supporting multiple protocols and running on open systems platforms.

Streamlining Trading Partner Management

MFT solutions that can handle information flow -- regardless of the origin of the data, its destination, encryption methods used, or protocols through which the data flows -- will prevent the disruption of the information flow between the merged companies and their respective business partners.

Where both companies have a relationship with the same trading partner, choose an MFT solution that provides a centralized management console that can create one business partner relationship where there were once two. The ability to handle multiple connections where this overlap occurs and also manage each company's unique trading partner connections reduces administration costs.

A self- provisioning process within the MFT platform resolves the complexities associated with heterogeneous systems. It vastly improves time-to-value as new departments and trading partners on-board within days rather than weeks or months, and they quickly begin to contribute financially.

SSH or PGP Encryption: Why Choose?

One company may have standardized on SSH encryption and the other on PGP encryption. Selecting an MFT solution that can handle flow from origin to destination using any encryption method eliminates the problem of having to select one over the other.

MFT solutions provide business value for companies after a merger or acquisition by centralizing electronic file transfer of any file type or protocol on a single solution. This value is captured in the newly combined organization's ability to reduce the complexity of file transfer and IT support and administrative overhead. In the end, choosing an MFT solution based on the requirements of the combined organization will reduce the impact of the merger or acquisition on the companies involved and -- perhaps more importantly -- their business partners.


Kyle Parris is director of product management for data protection software vendor nuBridges. Kyle can be reached at kparris@nubridges.com.


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